Mrunal Manmay Dash

While the Odisha government is spending crores of rupees under the 5T initiative to provide quality education to the students in smart classrooms, the ground reality however presents a completely different picture.

Several government-run schools in the state are grappling with a shortage of teachers, affecting the education of students.

In a glaring example, about 129 students study in Classes 9 and 10 at Putineshwar Government High School under Balasore’s Bhogarai block. However, the school reportedly has only three teachers including the Physical Education Teacher (PET). There are no teachers to teach subjects like science, mathematics, Sanskrit and Hindi.

In the absence of teachers, the sports teacher is reportedly forced to teach science and mathematics to the students sometimes, which has exposed the dire situation of the education system in the area.

In addition, the position of headmaster in the school was lying vacant. The headmaster of another government high school located 20 km away has reportedly been given the additional charge of the school.

“We have only three teachers including the PET. We cannot study science and mathematics in school. Who will be responsible if we score less in the exams due to this,” asked a student Rashmirekha Mohapatra.

Despite repeated complaints to the administration about the problem, the results were nil, leading to widespread resentment among students and parents.

“There is no headmaster in this school for the last 20 years. A headmaster from another school was given the charge to look after this school. Even he does not come. There are five teacher posts lying vacant since years. Only making smart classrooms won’t suffice. Students need teachers first,” said a parent Banka Bihari Mohapatra.

Speaking about the teaching, teacher of Putineswar High School, Purnachandra Jena said, “We are three teachers in this school. Two of them are TGT Arts and another is the PET. There are no teachers for Science, Mathematics, Hindi and Sanskrit. So, we are forced to manage whatever we can. Even though we have many official works to do too, on top of that we are called for training many times leaving the studies with no teachers at all.”

Similar is the case at Banshada Government High School in Chandbali block of Bhadrak district. The school has 209 students and only one teacher to teach. Headmaster Sarbeshar Padhi who teaches in the school also does the paperwork hindering the studies of the students.

“There are no teachers in our school other than Headmaster Padhi sir who always remains in great tension because of this. We have Class 8, 9 and 10 in our school. And it seems the government does not care how class ten students will appear for Matric exams without teaching them in school,” said a student Abhilipsa Pradhan.

Headmaster Sarbeswar Padhi said, “There are 209 students and I am the lone teacher. I have requested the DEO many times, but he replied that there is no provision of teachers to schools under the government scheme.”

Asked about the school, Chandbali BEO said, “We are managing all the single-teacher schools by deputing other teachers. I think there is a communication gap because of which this school was left out of the list. If the Headmaster writes us, we will take steps within seven days to address the issue."

It is pertinent to mention here that the students and their parents in these schools are particularly worried because Matric Examination is around the corner and there are many subjects left untouched by the students in school.

The Annual High School Certificate, Madhyama and State Open School Certificate Examination for 2024 will be simultaneously conducted from 20 February 2024 to 4 March 2024.