Govt schools in tribal districts run without maths, science teachers

The Bhiloda Prathmik Shala in Ghoghamba taluka of the Panchmahals district has been running without a single mathematics and science teacher for the last three years. The subject is being taught by science graduates or other "eligible" teachers under the "vaikalpik" (alternative) scheme of the State Education Department. Bhiloda is not alone to face the unavailability of qualified teachers. As per the records available with the Gujarat Education Department, currently 441 "vaikalpik" teachers are running classes in 900 schools in various villages of the Panchmahals district.

Even tribal districts of Sabarkantha and Banaskantha share similar fate. These three districts top the list of vacant posts for mathematics and science teachers in upper primary government schools. The three districts alone account for 1,477 vacancies in the two subjects, which is 25 per cent of the total vacancies in 27 districts across Gujarat. The Panchmahals district tops the list at 546, followed by Sabarkantha (495) and Banaskantha (436).

The absence of qualified maths and science teachers reflected badly in the Class X Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board results of 2012-13, where these two subjects posted the lowest pass percentages. While the pass percentage in maths was 71.11 per cent, it was 75.66 per cent in science, the lowest in the last three years. The overall pass percentage of Class X this year was 65.12 per cent.

The Panchmahals District Primary Education Officer, R R Patel, said that the issue was being addressed. "An estimated number of maths and science teachers require to be recruited, based on students' strength. The vaikalpik teachers list has been submitted to the state Education Department. The recruitment, which is being done in a phased manner, is in the process," said Patel.

The total number of vacant seats to be filled in government schools (under zila panchayat) is 5,766. In municipal schools, this number is 95. The shortage is more acute in Surat (44), followed by Vadodara (23). This was revealed in the statewide survey carried out last month on the instructions of the state Education Department by District Education Officers (DEO) and District Primary Education Officers (DPEO) in their respective districts. The survey also revealed that a large number of schools had no maths and science teachers at all.

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