'Not just infrastructure, schools need more teachers': Andhra teachers’ union

Teachers’ unions say that the existing teacher shortage is huge and estimate that there are around 24,000 vacant teaching posts in government schools in Andhra Pradesh.
A child writing in a text book with her pencil while sitting at her desk at an anganwadi
A child writing in a text book with her pencil while sitting at her desk at an anganwadi
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Over the past two years, the YSRCP government has introduced several new measures in the education sector. Apart from schemes like Amma Vodi (financial assistance for school children’s mothers), Nadu Nedu (school infrastructure development) and other schemes, the government had attempted to introduce English medium in all government schools and has proposed to switch to CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) syllabus from the coming academic year.

While these moves might be promising, ensuring adequate teaching staff is equally if not more important when compared to measures like infrastructure development, the state Government Educational Contract Lecturers and Teachers Federation (APGECLTF) has said. The federation has called for the state government to regularise contract or part-time teachers, and fill in vacant teaching posts in government schools, to ensure the quality of education is truly enhanced.

At a review meeting on foundational education on May 27, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy discussed proposals to lay special focus on the education of children of ages three to eight. He said that “appropriate rationalisation should be undertaken to make greater use of the teaching capacity of teachers.”

The new proposals focussed on “effective utilisation of teachers”, an official statement said. It was proposed that anganwadi centres be merged with local primary schools, and anganwadi teachers be brought into the teaching stream through training and promotions. However, the existing shortage of teachers is huge, as teachers unions like the APGECLTF have estimated that there are nearly 24,000 vacant teaching posts in government schools. 

Moreover, amid the pandemic, government schools in the state saw a huge spike in enrolments, for various reasons including the economic impact of the pandemic making private education unaffordable. When schools were reopened briefly between the first and second wave of COVID-19, school administrators had said that while some schools were getting new classrooms under Nadu Nedu as student strength increased, inadequate teaching staff remained a bigger concern, especially with the learning loss during the pandemic and new admissions meant many students required more individual attention.

Seeking regularisation of contract teachers, BJ Gandhi, Chairperson of the Contract Lecturers and Teachers Federation noted that the recruitment process of teachers to government schools has also been delayed. The appointment process for Secondary Grade Teachers (SGT) who appeared for the District Selection Committee (DSC) examination in 2018 was only commenced in September 2020 due to pending court cases.

After the matter was disposed of in court, Education Minister Adimulapu Suresh said that the government had started the process for pending appointments to 3,524 posts, following which the DSC 2020 exam would be conducted. The notification for recruitment which has been anticipated for months now is yet to be released. “The previous governments had systematically weakened government education and favoured private educational institutions. The YSRCP government has given much-needed attention to government schools and colleges through various programmes and schemes. The recent budget has also allocated considerable funds for schemes like Amma Vodi, Vidya Deevana, Vasathi Deevana etc., but it’s essential to urgently strengthen teaching staff along with infrastructure,” he said. 

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