Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Highlanders of Orissa, particularly in the tribal belt, may soon see misgovernance in another ugly form hitting them hard.

It was a matter to cherish for people of Orissa in general and the highlanders in particular when the Bandaa community dwelling in deep forests floated its first batch of High School graduates last month. It had generated a great hope amongst people living in utter disadvantage in high lands lacking in basic amenities of life. A day shall come when more and more of their children shall graduate from schools and colleges and usher in new avenues of sustenance, they were thinking. But that is not to be. The government of Orissa is seriously contemplating to close down as many as 4000 primary schools in the tribal belt. The reason: absence of adequate students!

When the Constitution of India calls for compulsory primary education to all and the national guideline in this respect requires that Orissa should add at least 30,000 more primary schools to her present strength, contemplation to close down so many schools in the tribal belt is a conundrum that breaths misgovernance to the limit one may imagine.

That adequate students are not coming to schools in the tribal belt does not suggest that they are going to any other school than the government run schools in their locality. They are not coming to the schools because there is no regular teaching in the schools. There is no teaching, because there are no teachers. The government has not posted adequate number of teachers in the primary schools. How can there be adequate students?

Let us take a look at the real scenario. There are 43, 409 lower primary and 14,000 upper primary schools in the State. These schools are manned by 85,000 and 28,000 teachers respectively. A simple arithmetic shows the government has posted less than two teachers per lower primary schools having three classes each from 1 to 3. On the other hand, only two teachers are appointed by the government per upper primary school having five classes from 1 to 5. How can a school run? Who must be teaching the students in the schools?

The government must come out with an answer before it executes its plan to close down 4,000 primary schools in the name of ‘reform’. Otherwise, it would be adjudged as a government of misgovernance. Should it be?

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