The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Odisha Legislative Assembly expressed its displeasure over the large number of vacancies of teachers at the primary level. Huge shortage of teachers at the primary and secondary levels has defeated the programme of universalisation of primary and secondary education, PAC chairman and Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh said.
Claiming that more than one lakh teachers’ posts are lying vacant, Singh said officers of the School and Mass Education Department told the committee that the process to recruit 17,000 siksha sahayaks has been initiated. Some PAC members said there are many single-teacher schools and in some cases one teacher is looking after educational needs of three classes. The shortage of teachers has seriously affected the primary education, Singh said. Although the State Government upgraded 1,087 primary schools by opening Class VIII, there are no teachers to teach the students.
As per the national yardstick, there should be one teacher for 40 students. However, the teacherpupil ratio in the State is poor. The committee was told that the department has initiated process for recruitment of 2,800 teachers on contractual basis. “There is a huge flow of funds from the Centre under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan However, the State Government has miserably failed to utilise the funds timely,” Singh said.
As the Centre is sharing the bulk of expenditure under SSA, the State Government should have no problem in filling up the vacant posts, Singh said. The Assembly Committee took strong exception to the non-compliance to objection raised by the Comptroller and Auditor General. The PAC advised the State Government to dispose of the cases relating to financial irregularities expeditiously and take appropriate action against officials responsible.
The State has undoubtedly made a significant achievement by reducing the dropout rate from 52.41 per cent in 2002-03 to 3.1 per cent in 2011-12. The number of out-of-school children came down from 10 lakh to 0.31 lakh during the same period. Besides, gender gap in primary enrolment has narrowed down. Under the annual action plan for 2012-13, a budgetary provision of Rs 3,679 crore has been made in which SSA component is around Rs 3,571 crore, National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL) accounts for Rs 18 crore and Kasturaba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) component is Rs 89 crore.