DHAKUAKHANA, Oct 15 - Assam has one of the worst student-teacher ratios in primary and upper primary education in the nation. Officially, the pupil-teacher ratio in lower primary schools in Assam is 26:1 which is better than the 30:1 that Right to Education Act (RTE) desires. The figure for upper primary schools in the State is 17:1 compared to the RTE standard of 35:1.
But two schools in rural Lakhimpur district have a far better student-teacher ratio, where there are more teachers than the pupils attending the classes. This strange ratio of teachers outnumbering pupils is found in Kothalpora ME School in Dhenukhona under Dhakuakhana Elementary Education Board of Lakhimpur district. The school, which was established in 1984 and provincialised in 1991 has three teachers including the headmaster but has only 13 pupils in three of its classes from Class VI to Class VIII. That means the teacher-pupil ratio in this school is just above 4:1, which is hundred times bigger than the ratio of no. 1 Sukharjar Lower Primary School in Barpeta district where the figure is 400:1, which attracted national media attention in 2014. Thus, the Kothalpora ME School has earned the distinction of the most fairly held ratio between the pupils and teachers.
The three-decade-old school, which also has a fourth grade employee (chowkidar) and a MDM-cook, is also in a dilapidated condition despite receiving financial grants from the State Government for infrastructure development. All the three class rooms of the school have broken and open windows with dusty floors. Two of the three classrooms have only one bench and no desk indicating the number of students attending the school. The founder headmaster of the school, who will be retiring recently, is solely responsible for the present poor condition of the school, allege the local villagers. He is alleged to have embezzled the financial grants meant for the development of the school. The concerned block elementary education officials also seem to be complicit so far as the condition of the Kothalpora ME School is concerned.
Another school in the same vicinity is the Kothalpora High School which too has a better ratio of teachers compared to the number of pupils. Founded in 1989 and provincialised in 2013, this high school at Dhenukhona village under Dhakuakhana Education Block has 13 teachers against 17 pupils. This makes the pupil-teacher ratio 0.77:1. That means a teacher has to attend to less than one student. This high school, which has classes from Class VI to Class X is still in a kutcha house with non-plastered bamboo walls and dusty floors. The classrooms have no doors and have only a few desks and benches. Stray cattle always stay inside the classrooms after the school hours in this school.
However, the poor condition of the school can be attributed to the fact that it got provincialised late in 2015 with effect from the year 2013 and financial grants might have not been received for infrastructure development since then. But the strange ratio of teachers outnumbering the pupils is a matter which the local people find hard to justify. This strange case is witnessed in rural Lakhimpur when the schools elsewhere in the State have poor teacher-pupil ratio.