On Thursday morning, students at three government girls’ schools in Bhim, Barar and Diver in Rajsamand district arrived even before the staff could, locked up the school gates and sat on demonstration against what they called ‘gender bias’ in the public education system. ‘Ladkon ka school adarsh bana, hamara kyun nahin?’ (Boys’ schools were made Model Schools, why not ours?), they asked and raised slogans against the dismal state of their science and computer labs, lack of teachers, no sports coaching and overall crumbling education system.
Neha Kumari, a class X student of the secondary school in Diver in Rajsamand, pointed out, “The schools do not have teacher, so we perform poorly in our exams and fail. So our parents make us stay at home and get us married off at an early age. For us it is a double whammy.” Neha’s school until last year had just one teacher for more than 300 students, for Classes I to X but got three more this year which too stands at a teacher-student ratio of 1:100.
All the three schools have been holding protests but received little support from the government so far. In October last year students at Bhim Girls’ Higher Secondary School staged a similar protest and were back to the same demand of more teachers on Thursday. But the protests met with threats of stern action from the local police.
The students complained that pass percentage at this school for 2014-15 batch stood at 53 percent for Class X and 44 percent for Class XII. “We have no professors for political science over the past 17 years and none for home science over the last 13 years. There are also no professors for history and geography. In stark contrast, the government boys’ higher secondary school in Bhim, has a strong teaching staff of seventeen while our school has a staff of just four teachers for 700 students,” the agitating girls said.
In neighbouring Barar girls’ school no appointments of teachers have been made for major subjects of Science and Maths for Classes IX and X. “The pass percentage of Class X students (2014-15) batch was 50 percent. We have held protests twice in 2013 and 2011 but no action was taken,” students at Barar maintained.
All the three schools have been functioning in the absence of 70 per cent of the teaching staff, no water connections in the toilets and no developed playground.
As the girls continued agitating, the sub-divisional magistrate and the block education officer agreed to hold a meeting with the girls. A delegation of five students from each of the three schools met the officials and demanded written orders on appointments of teachers. The block primary education officer issued an order on Thursday announcing appointments of new teachers for Hindi, History, Political Science, Geography and Science/Maths at the Bhim girls’ school.
Assurance was given that teachers would be appointed on a temporary basis for vacant posts at the girls’ schools at Barar and Diver by Monday.