New Delhi: Replying to questions raised by Congress MLAs in March, the BJP government in Gujarat had said that 700 government-run primary schools in the state have a single teacher for classes between one and eight.
The government had added that 100 such schools are in Kachchh district, 74 in tribal districts of Mahisagar and 59 in Tapi. There are 33 other districts which have a high number of schools with single teachers.
ThePrint visited six such primary schools in Gujarat, three in Kachchh district and three in tribal areas of Mahisagar, comprising mostly students from the Bhil tribe.
In its travels across Mahisagar, ThePrint passed a vehicle packed with students, holding on to their clipboards as they returned from their exams. A school teacher told ThePrint that many students in the district do not have school bus facilities and depend on these public jeeps or walk for kilometers.
The first school, Mena Varg-I government lower primary school in Batakwada village in Mahisagar, was some three kilometers away from where the main village road gave way to a red-earth lane, inaccessible by any transport.
A lone woman in a yellow saree stood watching as a child swept the floor. There were a total of seven students in the school at the time of ThePrint’s visit, the others were attending a marriage ceremony in the village.
The school’s two teachers — one of them the woman in yellow — have both retired, but continue to take classes as no replacement has been found for them yet.
In Kachchh, the first school visited by ThePrint was the Shree Shakti Nagar primary school. While a few students were running about, one of the students was armed with an axe and engaged in trimming a shrub inside the school compound. A few others were removing the branches as they fell.
The school’s only teacher had asked them to trim the bush, while he finished some office work. The school had around 14-15 students at the time.
Most of the students here were outside their classes, playing, and a Class 5 student, when asked if they faced any problem because of the only teacher, said, “we do not have any issue”. Some were engaged in odd jobs around the school, repairing locks, watering the plants etc.
In Angiya Nana primary school in Kachchh, two Class 5 students were teaching those in classes one to three, as their teacher evaluated their examination answer sheets.
Students in most of the schools visited by ThePrint did not wear any uniforms. The only exception was Shree Shakti Nagar school in Kachchh district.
Here are a few glimpses from the schools.