Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Though the Odisha government is boasting of transforming several schools across the State under the 5T initiative, the main problems pertaining to school education seem unresolved. Several allegations have surfaced that though the government has developed the infrastructure of many schools; those educational institutions are grappling with an acute shortage of teachers. 

As per reports, while there are only two to three teachers for 9th and 10th standard students in some schools, primary school teachers are teaching high school students in some other 5T schools. Making things worse; as many as three to four subjects have not been taught to the students in some schools with the Matriculation examination due in two months.

Smart classrooms, but no teachers?

Take the case of Kasipada Panchayat High School in Balasore district which has a strength of 228 students. The school has been transformed under the 5T initiative. The educational institution has good infrastructure including a shining building, smart classrooms, and digital blackboards. However, it’s hard to believe that there are no teachers in the school to teach the students. Following the retirement of all the teachers in this school last June, no other teachers have been appointed yet. Some old students are trying their best to keep the educational curriculum alive in this school. Though the district administration is trying to bring some teachers to the school in deputation, nothing has materialized yet. 

'Forget desks, we need teachers'

Students of the school have demanded the appointment of teachers in the educational institution on an urgent basis.

“We don’t need benches and desks. We need teachers in our school,” said Suchismita Das, a class X student.

“We need teachers more than infrastructure. Let the government take away all the facilities. But they should appoint teachers in our school. It is being said that 5T schools are meant to uplift the careers of students. However, it is completely different in our school,” said Sagar Mandal, another class X student.

Meanwhile, responding to the situation, Balasore Collector Dattatraya Bhausaheb Shinde assured that the district administration has prepared a special plan for the school.
“With a specific focus on Kasipada High School, we have prepared a special plan. We will appoint special tutors in the school to teach the weaker subjects to the students,” said Shinde.

Not only Balasore, but the situation is more or less the same in several 5T schools of the State.

No teachers for Odia, English, History!

Though Omadingi Government High School under Ramanaguda Block of Rayagada district has been transformed under the 5T initiative, there are only three teachers to teach the class X students in the school. The school has no teachers to teach subjects like MIL, English and History.

The situation is no different in the 5T-transformed Telanadi High School at Jharigaon of Nabarangpur district. The school has 75 and 55 students in Class IX and X, respectively. However, there are only three teachers in the school. Making things worse, primary school teachers are teaching class X students in the school.

“We don’t have the required number of teachers in our school. Subjects like English, MIL, and History are not taught in our school,” said Priyanka Gouda, a class X student of Telanadi High School.

“The infrastructure of our school has been developed under the 5T initiative. Though there are more than 300 students in our school, the severe shortage of teachers has hit the educational curriculum hard. We demand the appointment of more teachers in our school,” said Trilochan Gouda, MCC President of Telanadi High School.

CM Naveen's district no better!

The story is more or less the same even in a 5T school in Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s district in Ganjam. The curriculum has not yet been completed at Gupteshwar High School in Gopapur under Khallikote Assembly Constituency. Moreover, the Hindi subject has not been taught at all to the students.

“We have not been taught Hindi in our school after the retirement of the teacher. Our Headmaster is teaching us science. However, he is not able to take classes regularly as he often remains busy with office work,” said Sahil Sahu, a class X student of Gupteshwar High School.

Rs 3,400 crore spent but no improvement! 

Odisha government has transformed the infrastructure of as many as 6,872 schools across the State under the 5T initiative with an expenditure of Rs 3,411 crore. However, the quality of education has not improved due to a severe shortage of teachers. Responding to a question in this regard, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had recently replied in the Parliament that the shortage of teachers is the main reason behind many students failing in the examination. With the Matriculation examination scheduled to begin on February 20, 2024, in Odisha, it remains to be seen how much emphasis the State government will give to solve the crisis at hand.