As many as 111 schools in Nuh district of Haryana do not have a single teacher. The district is only about 100 km away from Delhi.
The Government Girls’ Middle School in Nuh’s Devla Nangli, with around 100 students, has never had a teacher over the past decade, except for a few months in between when a science teacher was appointed. But she soon got transferred. The headmaster at the primary school on the same campus has asked his staff to teach the girls in their free time. The staff members, though qualified to teach only the primary classes, also teach the students at the senior secondary school, also on the same campus, but with only one trained graduate teacher for physical education.
Nuh is a Meo Muslim-dominated area that not only just borders the State’s financial capital and IT hub of Gurugram, but also falls in the National Capital Region.
It figures among NITI Aayog’s 100-odd “Most Aspirational Districts”, a euphemism for backward areas, and was at the bottom of the table in 2018. Now it ranks 31. Education is among the five thematic areas identified for the rankings.
Another Government Girls’ Senior Secondary school in Nuh’s Khor Basai with a strength of 300 and catering to around half-a-dozen villages has a lone woman teacher, commuting from Gurugram. School principal Dinesh Sharma has requested the staff from the neighbouring boys’ school to teach the girls. “There has been no deployment of staff on deputation officially,” says Mr. Sharma. His former student, Rahul Khan, an Arts student at Dayal Singh College, and Raisika, a local girl, also volunteer to teach.
“Amenities like blackboards and drinking water are also missing. The doors to the toilets are broken. The contractor has left the construction work midway. There is no communication and visits from officials despite several complaints,” says Mr. Sharma, an Urdu teacher recently promoted as principal.
As one drives down the NH-248A, locally known as the Gurugram-Alwar Highway, the number of schools without teachers grows in Punhana and Ferozepur Jhirka blocks bordering Rajasthan. Of the five blocks, these two blocks together account for around 80 schools without teachers.
The 2017-batch Junior Basic Training teacher Surender, a teacher posted at Devla Nangli’s Primary School, saysthat not just the teachers, but the staff in other departments too is also reluctant to be posted at Nuh owing to poor connectivity and lack of basic amenities such as drinking water, power supply and health infrastructure. Surender, a native of Mahendragarh district, daily spends six hours travelling to and from Nuh for lack of good accommodation facilities in the area. “I tried staying at a rented accommodation in a village, but the water was not even fit for bathing. It is difficult to get even a branded drinking water bottle in this area, not to talk of other things. For the vegetarians, it is even more difficult to stay here with a majority of the population being non-vegetarian,” says Surender.
Appointed under the Mewat cadre, specially created by the Congress government to tackle the shortage of staff, Surender said he could not get transfer outside the Nuh and felt like “married to this area”. Many of the teachers, even from far-off areas such as Sonipat and Rohtak, prefer to commute daily and hired luxury buses to travel in groups.
Dhirpal, a teacher in Nuh, says posting to the district was considered “punishment posting” with the area having a bad reputation andbeing crime-prone, but the situation had changed drastically over the past few years. “People, especially the women, would fear posting to Nuh. Education was never the priority for the locals. But the outlook has changed a lot. A large population prefers to send their kids to madrasas for education, but simultaneously enrol them in schools just to take benefit of government schemes. Most come to schools just have a matriculation certificate at the end so they are eligible for a driving licence. Besides agriculture, driving commercial vehicles is the main occupation here,” says Dhirpal, a native of Jhajjar’s Badli.
The acute shortage of teaching staff has also been an important contributor to the high dropout rate. The enrolment figures for the current year show the dwindling number of students from primary to senior secondary level with only 14,779 students enrolled for Class XI and XII compared with 1,28,729 admissions in the primary classes. The total admissions for Class VI-VIII are 56,051, but for Class XI-X the number falls to almost half at 25, 968.
The government hired around 1,100 JBT teachers under the Mewat cadre four years ago for the last time. Earlier, some PGTs Post-Graduate Teacherswere hired in 2013. While the hiring for the Mewat cadre is disproportionate to the number of sanctioned posts, the teachers from the rest of Haryana, if transferred to Nuh, take legal course citing the special cadre for the district to get their transfer order revoked.
“While many schools in the rest of Haryana have surplus teachers, almost half of the sanctioned posts in Nuh are vacant for years,” says Surender Kumar, a teacher. Either the government should ensure more hirings under the Mewat cadre or end it to facilitate the transfer of teachers from the rest of Haryana to this district. The government had also promised 10% allowance to the teachers in Mewat cadre, but it the promise remains unfulfilled,” says Surender Kumar, JBT teacher, hailing from Bhiwani district.
Mohammad Alisher, reengaged as a teacher this month after his retirement to tackle shortage of staff, suggests that hiring more local youth could help deal the problem effectively.
Deputy Commissioner Capt. Shakti Singh told The Hindu that multiple steps were being initiated by the local administration to deal with the crisis and the matter was taken up with the government. “We have temporarily deputed staff from other schools to these schools so that the students are not left completely unattended,” he said.