Exposing the poor state of affairs in the J&K’s school education sector, the ministry of human resource development (MHRD) has painted a grim picture in terms of retention rate of students as well as availability of teachers. The ministry has prepared a 290-page document after holding project approval board (PAB) meeting to review and approve annual plan for 2019-20. Bellying the tall claims of the department to take academic scenario to new heights, the MHRD in its report has revealed that around 70% of upper primary schools are without subject teachers. The dearth of specific teachers at primary and middle level takes a toll on the academic performance of the students. The MHRD has also revealed that the around 90% secondary schools don’t have four subject teachers for students, deflating the government claims of providing adequate teachers to the students in all schools to improve the learning outcome of students enrolled in the government-run educational institutions. The MHRD has also stated that there are 2061 untrained teachers in government schools at secondary level affecting the academic performance of schools. “These teachers do not meet the requisite professional qualifications. State may prepare an action plan to conduct the requisite training of these teachers,” reads the appraisal note on various indicators of the department. As per the official figures, there are around 1837 secondary schools with an enrolment of 199673 students across J&K. These schools have 15375 teachers. The department has however failed to provide subject specific teachers to the students. Similarly, there are 13205 government primary schools and 8156 middle schools with an enrolment of 5.9 lakh and 3.22 lakh students respectively. “State should focus either on teacher’s rationalisation to meet requirements of the subject teachers or to recruit fresh subject teachers on priority,” reads the official document assessed by Greater Kashmir. The department has picked loopholes in the posting of teachers four years after the department started rationalisation of schools, to streamline the pupil-teacher ratio in schools and provide adequate teachers to the students. The MHRD has further revealed that the retention rate at secondary level is only 56%. The revelation comes a year after the ministry has asked the department to maintain 100% retention rate in schools at every level to control the dropout rate in schools.
The school education department has also kept 39% seats vacant in KGBV residential schools for females. These schools were specifically established for the girls belonging to educationally backward blocks. “2625 seats are lying vacant against the target of enrolling 6700 girl students in these schools,” reads the document. Besides academics and enrolment, the school education department has poorly performed in the execution of civil works approved over the years. “The state has not been able to complete construction of 76 KGBV buildings in phase first. The construction of KGBV schools of second phase is yet to start,” reads the official document. The state has been asked to fill-up all vacant seats in KGBVs so that the capacity can be fully utilized. As per the official document, there are around 3952 posts of teachers vacant in the department in secondary schools. “There are 418 posts of headmasters and 102 posts of higher secondary principals vacant in the department which should be filled on priority,” reads the document. The MHRD has directed the state to fill the gaps in respect of the implementation of ICT laboratories in schools. “There are 455 secondary schools where ICT laboratory is yet to be implemented. The state is directed to fill the gap on priority,” the document reads. The school education department has poorly performed in execution of civil works approved over the years. The laxity has resulted in incomplete construction of the school buildings approved for the institutions where students are facing accommodation crunch. As per the document, the department is yet to start the construction of 107 secondary school buildings which were approved in the past. Also, the department has shelved the construction of 189 additional classrooms (ACRs), 172 science laboratories, 195 library rooms and 197 art and craft rooms. “State may take up these pending works on priority and ensure their completion,” reads the appraisal note. The MHRD has also censured the department over out-of-school children citing that the rate of mainstreaming of these children in regular schools was very low. “State has not conducted or updated survey of out of school children since 2016-17. There is an urgent need to have a renewed focus on Universal Enrolment, attendance and completion of elementary education,” the MHRD has stated.