Punjab: 2,667 primary, upper primary schools don’t have enough teachers
Punjab education minister Aruna Chaudhary scrapped the deputation orders of government school teachers last week for their proper utilisation.
But this is just the first small step. The Congress government, which promised rationalisation of teacher deployment to impart quality education in state-run schools, needs do much more, given the serious imbalance in deployment of teachers in elementary and secondary schools in the state.
The education department, which has 74,782 teachers at primary and upper primary levels, has a comfortable overall pupil teacher ratio of 16 students per teacher as against the RTE norm of 1:30 for primary classes and 1:40 for upper primary. However, 2,667 primary and upper primary schools still lack adequate number of teachers in the state.
Of 12,997 primary schools (classes 1 to 5), 1,728, which comes to about 13%, have adverse pupil-teacher ration (PTR). At upper primary level (classes 5 to 8), 15% schools do not have adequate number of teachers. Adverse PTR means more students per teacher than the norm and has been seen to affect teaching-learning processes.
Also, 28% upper primary schools do not have the subject teachers as per the norms prescribed under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, according an analysis of teacher deployment in the state carried out by the Union ministry of human resource development (MHRD) recently.
Though there has been improvement in teacher deployment in the past three years with the education department bringing down the number of such government schools, the number of 2,667 schools with adverse PTR is seen as “high”. The situation is not any better at secondary level where there is severe shortage of teachers and deployment is not balanced.
Punjab Government School Teachers’ Union general secretary Balkar Valtoha, who welcomed the education minister’s move to scrap the deputation orders of teachers, said there is discrepancy in deployment of school teachers across the state. “There is severe shortage of teachers in schools in rural and border areas. In Khalra village of Tarn Taran district alone, the government school has 4-5 teachers for over 400 students. It is the same story in several schools in the district. At the same time, several schools in urban areas of the state have more teachers than required,” he said.
Additional chief secretary, school education, GR Vajralingam, could not be contacted despite efforts. However, an education department official blamed political interference in teachers’ transfers over the years for this situation. “There is influence peddling at times or attempts to give favourites stations of choice. The department has been trying to rationalise deployment. And that’s how things have improved in the last two-three years,” he said, requesting anonymity.