The survey whose results were published on Sunday revealed that 314 primary schools are functioning without any teacher, with the highest 55 in Tezpur educational sub-division, followed by 38 in Dibrugarh and 37 in Guwahati.
Surprisingly, despite being close to the policy makers, the highest 224 single-teacher schools are in Guwahati educational sub-division. In Dibrugarh and Goalpara educational sub-divisions, the corresponding figures are 215 and 167 respectively. The highest 342 single-room schools are in Morigaon educational sub-division, stated the survey. It also found that 3,716 schools are functioning with a single teacher, whereas in 1,664 schools, several classes are being imparted from one room.
In this backdrop, the association has questioned the relevance of education department’s plan to organise Gunotsav every year to gauge the quality of education in the government schools instead of addressing the loopholes.
“In Guwahati educational sub-division areas, which come under Kamrup (Metro) and Kamrup districts and can rightly be termed as the home districts of chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, 37 schools are on the verge of closure. On the other hand, in education minister Ranoj Pegu’s home district Dhemaji, 17 schools are without teachers,” said ASPTA president Akhil Chandra Nath and general secretary Ratul Chandra Goswami in a statement.
The survey was conducted across 33,829 schools located in 51 educational sub-divisions in 32 districts where the association has its presence. The ASPTA claimed that the number of single-teacher schools is even more alarming, if the situation of three hill districts are incorporated. “Overall, there are 4,444 government elementary schools in Assam where one teacher is compelled to teach in multiple classes simultaneously. If that only teacher goes on leave or is assigned other duties by the government, teaching comes to a halt,” said Goswami.
He said that according to data furnished by the education minister in the assembly in 2020, the number of single-teacher schools in Assam was 3,085, but the same crossed 4,000 by January this year.
“Still, we don’t have toilets in over a thousand schools. In over 10,000 schools there is no electricity,” Goswami claimed, alleging that the government has not supplied new desk-benches in the last 20 years.
The state government announced additional funds in the 2019-20 budget in order to address the lacunae identified in the first edition of Gunotsav. The ASPTA, however, said that they could not see a change.
“If Gunotsav fails to improve the basic infrastructure, what is the need of organizing it year after year?” questioned Goswami.
The ASPTA reiterated its demand of officially appointing full-fledged headmasters in all the primary schools of the state.