While the Maharashtra government keeps talking about how it has focused on increasing the quality of education, especially in government schools, it has come to light that 23,435 teachers' positions in zilla parishad schools have been lying vacant.
The schools are under the state's primary education department and generally see children from rural areas coming through their gates each morning. By not filling these vacant positions quickly, the state government is failing to provide 'quality education' to its students.
Data from the state's primary education department shows that such vacant positions can be found across Maharashtra. There are a total of 8,261 teachers required for students between classes one and five in the state with the number going up to 14,995 for students in classes six to ten. Students from the ninth and tenth standard teachers need 179 more teachers too.
Palghar, a known tribal-dominated and backward district, has the highest number of vacant positions at 1,519, Yavatmal is at 1,406, Nashik at 1,280, Pune at 1,215, Nanded at 1,197 and Jalana (1,125) are other districts where more than one thousand positions for teachers lie vacant.
Meanwhile, over two lakh D.Ed (Diploma in Education) candidates who have finished the course wait for jobs. They have been protesting for recruitment for the last four years. Fresh recruitments would at least accommodate ten per cent of them and bring down these numbers and the unemployment figures by a bit. However, the state government needs to act.
The Maharashtra government has come up with a scheme called 'Samayojan' (in Marathi) to overcome the issue. Schools which are subsidised and where the number of teachers required is more, would see personnel being shifted to ZP schools. However, the scheme is fraught with multiple issues. In many private or subsidised schools, the requirement for teachers keeps changing and many do not permit teachers to leave as a result.
Unions of primary teachers have opposed this scheme too. According to them, the state government should go ahead with a fresh recruitment of DEd and BEd candidates. The process does not seem to have a clear policy behind it.
MLCs from teachers' constituencies have been raising the issue for years, as have those from graduates' constituencies. MLCs from all the parties in both these constituencies have been demanding fresh recruitment to clear the mess. "Every legislative session over the last four to five years has seen this issue come up but the government has failed to design a clear, unambiguous policy. Recruitment of teachers is one thing that you can't keep pending for so long; it has multiple negative effects," said Kapil Patil, MLC from teachers' constituency.
The monsoon session of the Maharashtra legislature will start from July 5. It will again witness the demand to fill all these vacant positions. However, the state's primary education department has not begun the process to come up with a solution.