Vacant posts, petty politics bane of education
Chandigarh: Education is in a shambles in villages of Punjab’s border belt. Vacancies have not been filled for years, defying the guidelines of the Right to Education (RTE) Act. The less said about infrastructure the better.Of the 16 education blocks in Gurdaspur district, eight are located along the border with Pakistan. The staff strength is skeletal in these blocks. At Bhalonwali village middle school in Fatehgarh Churian block, there is just one teacher who teaches all subjects to 50 students.At Rattan Abdal village high school, Dera Baba Nanak, there are three teachers for 145 students.Amarjit Shastri, a union leader, said petty politics had ruined the education system. “Since Independence, Gurdaspur district has had seven Education Ministers. All catered to their respective vote banks,” he added.In 2012, then Education Minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan used Rs1 crore from the sports quota to get a stadium constructed near a private school owed by him in his native village.Incumbent Education Minister Aruna Chaudhary added the science and commerce streams in Darbar Pandori Senior Secondary School, but did not allocate adequate staff. It falls in Dinanagar Assembly segment, which she represents.“The ministers upgraded the schools, but did not recruit staff,” Shastri alleged.“Within an 8-km radius of Gurdaspur, there is no staff shortage. But outside, schools operate at just 40 per cent of their strength. No one wants to get posted in the border belt,” he added.Many buildings were constructed just to avail Central funds under the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) — without recruiting/deputing teachers.In Pathankot, there are 150 teachers who share cabs to reach their places of posting in Dera Baba Nanak and Sri Hargobindpur. “As there is no proper transfer policy, teachers spend hours commuting,” said a senior officer. Pathankot DEO Ravinder Kumar said a grant would be used to purchase desks. Other infrastructure will have to wait as the department is short of funds, he added.