Locking up school

Shortage of teachers hampers literacy drive

Locking up school

The urban-rural divide in the field of education, exacerbated during the pandemic, has again been brought to the fore by the incident at Lehal Khurd village of Sangrur district, where residents locked up the local government primary school to protest against a shortage of teachers. They insisted that the school would not be allowed to function till it had the required number of teachers. The school has just two teachers for 200 pupils, raising doubts over the attention being paid to improve the quality of education in the village. Government schools had come under scrutiny after the Covid-19 lockdown forced millions of migrant workers and their families to return from cities to small towns and villages. While schools in urban areas were able to continue with online classes, those in rural areas had to face difficulties in the absence of adequate technology-enabled learning tools.

Punjab has, from time to time, seen protests by teachers demanding jobs and regularisation of their service. The Sangrur incident calls for assessing the reasons behind the shortage of teachers despite the claims of the government of providing adequate number of teachers and amenities. Government schoolteachers also have to perform a host of duties besides teaching. Working in rural and remote areas can mean enduring hardships and incentives may not be out of place. Appointing properly qualified teachers is a pre-requisite not just for imparting quality education but also preventing students from dropping out. The government recently urged the schools to restart the midday meal scheme that had to be discontinued after the onset of the pandemic as a precautionary measure.

In its first budget, the AAP government in Punjab had promised ‘schools of eminence’ in terms of upgrade and posting of estate managers for the upkeep of a cluster of government schools, besides providing infrastructure such as digital classrooms. It would only be proper for the government to work harder to overcome the impediments and bring about a qualitative change in the field of education.

Tribune Shorts


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