Teacher Shortage Despite Surplus
Ironically, when thousands of students in the state are set to write HSLC and HSSLC examinations conducted by the Nagaland Board of School Education (NBSE), starting next week, the Yimkhiung apex student body (Yimkhiung Akheru Arihako) is protesting against an acute shortage of teachers, up to the tune of 280 (from primary to graduate teachers) in its areas. Earlier this week, the Department of School Education (DoSE) had acknowledged the severe shortage of teachers in the state, particularly in subjects like Mathematics, Science and Hindi. In the meantime, it said the state has surplus primary teachers, with shortages in some pockets and excess in others. The government has also been crying for years about the avoidable financial burden it faces in the form of salaries for thousands of excess teachers. Isn’t it a strange paradox that the state has surplus teachers and yet faces an acute shortage? Why are the concerned department and the government sleeping on burning issues, including inadequate staff and deplorable infrastructure, that are killing its professed endeavour towards providing quality education to all? Why hasn’t action been taken against those practicing proxy teaching despite repeated warnings? There are too many questions that need concrete answers.
As per the results of last year’s HSLC exams in the state, government schools registered a 49.13% pass percentage, compared to 91.15% recorded by private schools. And all 24 schools with zero/nil results were government schools. Data also showed a huge disparity in the performance of government schools in the urban and remote areas of the state, a clear indication that there is more to the issue than meets the eye. Is this a result of the government’s indifferent attitude towards facilities as basic as adequate teaching staff, as pointed out by many, or a case of incompetency on the part of school administration? It appears like the whole system has failed but the authorities should first remove the plank from their own eyes through corrective measures before shutting down schools, which will ultimately affect the rural population, who need help more than their counterparts in urban settlements. It should know that addressing proxy teaching practice, deployment of teachers and good infrastructure are musts for a positive outcome for students. The fact that some schools have excess teachers while others are on the brink of closing down for want of the same shows that the School Education department is in a mess, with no will to solve issues that have been the state’s Achilles heel all these years. It’s time the authority gets down to the nitty-gritty of the matter at hand and gets its act together before taking actions that will affect not the real culprits but children who deserve quality education.