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In this Rajasthan school, a student doubles up as teacher

Class 7 student Madhu Kumar teaches primary classes in government-run school on Saturday in Bharatpur.

Madhu Kumari teaches students of Class 1 to 5 in a government upper primary school for three hours devoting one hour each to mathematics, English, and Hindi.

After that, the 15-year-old attends Class 7 for three hours in the school in Patpara locality of Rajasthan’s Bharatpur city.

“I make all students of primary classes sit in one classroom and teach them from 9.30am to 12.30pm,” said Kumari.

Kumari has to perform the duties of a teacher because the school of 134 students, including 73 girls, has just one: the principal.

The school’s principal, Rajni Upadhyay, said she had to request Kumari to teach the primary classes after her petitions to the education department went unheard.

“I have been requesting senior department officials for posting teachers here but in vain,” Upadhyay said.

There are 1,196 primary and upper primary schools in Bharatpur and most of them face a shortage of teachers.

The student-teacher ratio, especially in government schools, is dismal and there is a need to hire more teachers according to the recommended level in the country, experts say, where the quality of education is sub-standard, with poor learning outcomes across the board.

Kumari’s three siblings are also students of this school – her brother Mayank Kumar is in Class 7, sister Palak is a Class 6 student and Shivani is in Class 4.

“The students of senior classes struggle to complete their syllabus by self-study because there’s no one to teach us,” said Kumari, whose father is a daily-wage labourer and mother a homemaker.

Puja Kumari and Chanchal Kumari of Class 8 said they were sceptical of taking the board examination conducted by the Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education as they fear they will fail.

Principal Upadhyay admits most students are weak in all subjects.

“They don’t even have the basic general knowledge and can’t name India’s President, Prime Minister, forget about their local MP and MLA,” she said.

Additional district education officer (elementary education) Sunil Gupta said most of the primary and upper primary schools in the city have been facing shortages of teachers. He said the government has decided to allot teachers to fill the vacant posts in these schools.

“The education department has received 24 teachers who will be allotted in different schools,” he added.




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