Ranchi: A rally was held today by parents and children from 16 villages of Garu Block in Latehar District to protest against Single-Teacher Schools, 107 kilometers from state capital Ranchi.
They demanded teacher postings as per the Right to Education Act norms. Out of the 40 government primary schools in Garu, 17 have only one teacher. Even two middle schools have a single teacher. This is illegal under the RtE Act, which mandates that every primary school must have at least two teachers, and at least one teacher for every 30 children.
Single-teacher schools make it difficult to provide quality education. When the teacher is absent or busy with record-keeping, children are left to themselves. Even when the teacher is available, it is impossible for them to teach children of five different grades on their own. In Garu, single-teacher schools have an average of 48 pupils, with some having more than 100 pupils.
The participants of the rally took out a procession from Armu Chowk to the Block headquarters, with drums, slogans and songs like “Kya chahta Latehar? Shiksha ka adhikaar! Balbutru ki pukaar, teacher de sarkar!” reverberating in the air. At the Block office, their demands were heard, and a public meeting was held in the Block premises.
During the meeting, Poonam Kumari, a middle school student from Rud village, demanded at least six more teachers to teach multiple subjects. Her school currently had 145 students and only one teacher. Sandeep Oraon and Neelam Kumari, parents from Gotag village, raised the issue of their children’s single teacher often being busy with other work, leading to many days with no teaching at all. Parents from Latu, Dergaon, and Jaygir also discussed the situation of their children’s schools and demanded an immediate investigation and increase in school teachers as per the RtE.
The Block Development Officer, Block Program Officer, and Circle Officer also addressed the rally. They assured the participants that their issues would be communicated to district and state officials and promised an investigation on the issue of mid-day meals. They received and signed the memorandum submitted by schoolchildren.
The participants also released an open letter to Chief Minister Hemant Soren, signed by gram pradhans, School Committee members, and other representatives of the 16 villages. They demanded the immediate posting of at least one extra teacher in all the 19 single-teacher schools of Garu Block. The letter also demanded the posting of extra teachers in all single-teacher schools of Jharkhand as per the RtE.
The rally and public meetings were organized by Sanyukta Gram Sabha Manch Garu. Aside from local parents and children, the participants included James Herenj, Shailendra, Paran Amitava, Jean Drèze, Aninjit Pakhale, Sabhil Nath Paikra, Laavanya Tamang, Dheeraj Kumar, and others. Zila Parishad members Kannai Singh and Jeera Devi also attended and promised to take up this issue in the next ZP meeting.