The provision of teachers is essential for all children, including those from rural India, to ensure that all have access to quality education. To ensure the same, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 has set a pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) of 30:1. However, teaching in remote areas in India has many challenges as the shortage of primary school teachers and facilities continue to be a problem throughout India. A report by Oxfam, India found out that 37% of the government primary schools do not have adequate teachers. The same report further reveals that the country currently has five lakh teacher posts lying vacant, while over six lakh in-service teachers are untrained.
The story of the Uttar Dariapur primary school in Malda district, West Bengal was no different than that of many other government primary schools in rural India. Soriya Banu, Video Volunteers correspondent in West Bengal found that the 193 students of the primary school were being taught by only three teachers, which is more than double the PTR recommended by RTE. "The school had only one permanent teacher and two para teachers," recalls Soriya.
With an issue at hand, Soriya set out to make the video, documenting the various problems the school was facing due to the lack of teachers.
Caught between the administrative workload and education, the school's headmistress Belenur Khatun had been quoted saying, "Including me, there are three teachers in this. Due to lack of staff, we have to skip four classes every day."
For six months after making a video on the issue, Soriya went to several administrative officers in Malda district with the video, showing them the evidence of the shortage of teachers, urging them to take action.Finally, her appeal reached Manas Chowbay, the School Inspector from Kaliachak, Malda District.
After seeing the strong visual evidence on the problem at Uttar Dariapur primary school, Chowbey sent a request to the Chairman of region's District Primary School Council, requesting that a teacher should be immediately sent to Uttar Dariapur, to improve the educational standards of the school.
As a result, within six months from the report, Chandan Kumar Das joined the school as the headmaster, bringing the total strength of teachers in the school at four. Though the PTR of the school is at 48:1, the small step has been instrumental in solving the severe dearth of teachers in the school. "Now that we are four teachers, we can take a class each," says a relieved teacher, Mishlefa Khatun.
We would like to thank all our viewers and Manas Chowbay for taking swift action to ensure a better education for the students of Uttar Dariapur primary school. Your constant support has been instrumental in bringing change at the grassroots levels across 16 states of India.
This video was made by a Video Volunteers Community Correspondent Soriya Banu.
Community Correspondents come from marginalised communities in India and produce videos on unreported stories. These stories are ’news by those who live it.’ They give the hyperlocal context to global human rights and development challenges.
See more such videos at www.videovolunteers.org. Take action for a more just global media by sharing their videos and joining in their call for change.
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