Teacher-student rationalisation in Kashmir schools still incomplete

SRINAGAR: Contrary to the announcement made by the PDP-BJP in the Assembly about five months ago, the process of rationalising the teacher-student ratio in the schools in Kashmir Valley is still incomplete.
Last year, the PDP-BJP coalition announced rationalisation of teacher-student ratio in government schools across Kashmir Valley. The aim was to have a teacher per 30 students in every school.
Later in the state Assembly’s Autumn Session, the government declared that rationalisation process was complete.
However, five months after the claim was made, the documents accessed by Kashmir Reader reveal that most government schools still don’t have 1:30 teacher-student ratio.
In Zaldagar Education Zone, for instance, most schools don’t have the accepted ratio.
Girls Middle School Bohri Kadal in the zone has five teachers teaching seven students, while the Primary School Shah Mohallah has two teachers for just two students, the documents show.
In the zone, government spends more than Rs 26 lakh on just the salary of the schools’ staff.
In Rainawari Education Zone, a government-run Middle School has six teachers for 21 students.
The school functions in three rented rooms—one serving as the only classroom, the other as a kitchen-cum-staff room, and the third is the headmistress’ office.
“We have made four groups—KG to 2nd class, 4th and 5th class, 6th and 7th class, and 8th class. The first three groups are taught together, with teachers students to attend the students. Only 8th class students are taught separately,” headmistress of the school, Dilshada, told Kashmir Reader.
Of the 21 students enrolled in the school, five each are in class 2nd and 6th. There are no students in class 3rd.
Chief Education Officer, Srinagar, Arif Iqbal Malik, told Kashmir Reader that this imbalance persisted because of “political forces”.
“My department was compelled by political forces to send teachers back to the schools where from they had been transferred during the process of rationalisation,” he said.
“But we have restarted the process, and I hope that we will be able to complete the rationalisation within two months,” he said.
Director Education, Kashmir, Shah Faesal, said the process was stopped due to the winter.
“Rationalisation process will be restarted soon,” he said, refuting that there were “political forces” opposing the process. “We want fewer schools with quality education than more schools with poor education. Very soon, we will close down all the schools that have become a liability on the government, and the schools with less students will be joined with bigger ones to make the rationalisation effective,” Shah said.