The lacunae in Assam’s educational system are too numerous for brief encapsulation. A glaring contradiction is the difference between the infrastructure and resources of privately run educational institutions and Government managed ones. In the case of the latter one major constraint is the lack of qualified teachers. There are numerous instances at the primary level of schools being run by a single teacher. There too are cases where teachers have been working for years in a school without being paid or recompensed! There is no gainsaying the truism that teachers are the backbone of any education system and deserve far more focus from society and the State than they have been given so far. It is in such a context that one welcomes the appointment recently made of 29,701 teachers by the Assam Government. On 5th February appointment letters were formally handed over by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to 16,484 teachers whose schools had been provincialized and 13,217 teachers who had qualified through TET (Teachers’ Eligibility Test). Notwithstanding the fact that the appointments were made at the fag-end of this Government’s five year tenure and with an eye on the imminent Assembly elections, this is a positive step designed to fill an existing lacuna. The Government’s assurance that within this month another 5,000 teachers would be appointed is equally to be welcomed.
The Sonowal Government has been making an effort to tackle the adverse teacher-student ratio that has been a primary bane of schools in Assam through systematic provincialization of Primary, Lower Primary, M.E., High and Higher Secondary schools which has benefitted large number of teachers. Till date this Government has appointed 71,765 school teachers, yet even today much remains to be done to mitigate the shortfall of school teachers, since 24.97 per cent Lower Primary and 22.73 per cent Upper Primary schools have been estimated as having adverse teacher-student ratio. It hardly needs to be pointed out, of course, that appointing teachers by itself is not enough; they must be qualified for the job and their methodology constantly updated through training courses, seminar attendance etc. Moreover, there has to be an up-gradation of infrastructure facilities and teachers must be provided with proper educational tools if there is to be improvement in the education scenario. The rate of school dropouts in Assam is abnormally high as compared to other parts of India, a trend that can only be reversed through improvements in the imparting of education in Government run schools. However, if media reports be true that teachers will be given a choice of the school in which she or he will work, such a provision would be detrimental to the system since bad schools might be saddled with bad teachers.