Himansu Shekhar Rout

There seems to be no end to the sufferings of students in Odisha due to teacher crunch in schools across the state. If reports are to be believed, there are 56,000 primary and upper primary schools in Odisha where 24,000 teaching positions are vacant.

Similarly, a total of 15,000 teaching positions are reportedly vacant in as many as 7000 high schools across the state.

This report of huge vacancy has raised eyebrows over the tall claims of the state government that has been claiming that schools are being transformed under its 5T Initiative. 

Can there be quality education sans adequate number of teachers?   

Here is a case in point. As per reports, Rajgharpokhari Panchayat High School under Basudevpur block in Bhadrak is plagued by a severe crunch of teachers, even though the school was transformed under the 5T initiative. 

Huge funds were reportedly spent for the overhaul of its infrastructure– making well-furnished smart classrooms, digital blackboards, nice desks and benches, and other modern facilities. All here look spic and span from the outside. In fact, what worries local guardians about the school is the acute shortage of teachers for 111 students. 

Reportedly, only two teachers are there and the duo struggles on daily basis to impart education to these students in different classes. 

A Hindi teacher is posted as the headmaster while a PET teacher looks after the education of the students. Over such a sorry state of education at the school, students and their guardians have expressed their displeasure.

“What sins we have made that we are forced to study in such a school where our studies are hampered due to lack of teachers. We appeal to the Odisha government to appoint teachers to cater to our study needs. If nothing is done, we will start agitation or abandon the HSC examination," Manas Pritam Dalei, a student fumed.

ALSO READ: 'No teacher in school, don't expect too much from us'; Class 9 student’s remark in answer sheet goes viral in Odisha

As for vacancies, headmaster Ghanashyam Biswal admitted that the school requires more teachers. “We are only two teachers for two classes. Basically, I am a Hindi teacher but was given charge as headmaster. Another is a PET teacher. We two are struggling to manage things. We are unable to clarify everything to our students.”

However, Deepak Padhi, the additional district education officer of Bhadrak, said, “The recruitment process for regular teachers is currently underway. We are trying to recruit some guest teachers to fill up the vacancies.” 

Teacher Crunch - Unique Protest by Students in Jajpur

On Sunday, an answer sheet of a Class 9 student in Jajpur mentioning, ‘We don’t have teachers for Sanskrit, so don’t expect too much from us,’ went viral, adding fuel to the issue of large-scale vacancies of teachers hampering the upper primary and high school education in Odisha.

Hours after the answer sheet of the Class 9 student went viral, the campus of Prahaladchandra Brahmachari High School in Khairabad panchayat of Jajpur block remained tense as guardians created ruckus over teachers’ shortage. The guardians argued with the headmaster and expressed concerns over the future of their wards. The post of the Sanskrit teacher is reportedly lying vacant. 

Headmaster Sanjukta Dei clarified that students wrote whatever they liked in the answer sheet. Sanskrit was not taught due to a lack of teachers. "We conducted the exam. If we had not held the exam, the guardians would have blamed us. What can we do?” Dei added.