An increasing number of complaints is being raised regarding acute shortage of teachers facing government schools and their students, particularly in rural areas of Manipur despite the state government taking the step of launching School Fagat-Hansi Mission to improve educational facilities in all government schools. In a shocking revelation, Tangjeng Ahallup Upper Primary School located in Bishnupur district has been running without a single appointed teacher, according to the school management committee.
Raising the issue, the Tangjeng Ahallup Upper Primary School Management Committee and guardians of its students are demanding the government to provide adequate number of teachers for the school at the earliest.
According to committee member Ningthoujam Pakpi, the school was functioning up to lower primary classes and upgraded to the upper primary level after the launching of School Fagat-Hansi Mission. But, the school does not have a single teacher yet, she told mediapersons.
Acting out of fear that the school may lose its recognition, one teacher has been hired for the purpose of running the management, she said, adding that the initiation was taken up jointly by guardians of the students studying in the school and the management committee.
She also said that in February 2022, the authority concerned had urged them to begin the academic session, with the assurance that the required number of teachers will be provided soon. However, the state government did not pay any attention in this regard, she alleged.
At present, 50 total students are being enrolled in the school. Therefore, it is quite difficult to run the school with only one hired teacher, she lamented.
Raising the demand for adequate numbers of teachers in the school, she told mediapersons that agitation would be launched if the government failed to meet their demand.
One of the guardians, Th Tiken said the Tangjeng Upper Primary High School has been facing teacher shortage issue for about three years now. Each year, the condition of school has been worsening and it may even come to a situation where children are unable to write their exams, he said.
"If the situation of government schools continue to remain like this, the future of children from poor economic backgrounds remains bleak," he added.
Urging the state government to ensure improvement in the condition of government schools, he lamented that owing to poor financial condition, they are unable to send their children to private schools.
Considering the importance of government schools, particularly for children belonging to low income groups, the state government should address their grievances soon, he said.
It may be mentioned that the Moirangpurel High School at Andro in Imphal East district was selected as one of the model schools under School Fagat-Hansi Mission in February 2020, but the school which has around 700 students is being managed by only eight teachers, the school headmaster revealed.
Demanding more teachers to fill up the vacant teaching posts at the earliest, students of the Moirangpurel High School staged a protest against the acute shortage of teachers on September 1.
“The school has been achieving 100 per cent pass percentage in class 10 board examination every year. So people had high expectations from the school when it was selected as a model school in 2020. But on the contrary, the condition of the school is worsening due to the disproportionate number of teachers and students,” Moirangpurel High School headmaster Kshetrimayum Johnson said.
In far flung areas, most of the schools are facing shortage of manpower and it is unfortunate to see students protesting over acute shortage of teachers, Democratic Students' Alliance of Manipur general secretary M Somorjit alo said.
The problem of acute shortage of teachers and other manpower in government schools has been prevalent for long years. With the growing awareness about the importance of education, serious concern is being expressed by parents, guradians and all stakeholders as the situation has not improved over the years.
Recently, the Imphal Free Press drew the attention of the state government to the problem of shortage of teaching staff in hill areas in its exclusive report entitled: School Fagat-Hansi - a far-fetched mission for government schools?