Students suffer as manpower crunch cripples education hub

The State Education Department is facing a daunting task in making important decisions with eight state level offices based in the city facing a major leadership crunch, as four top posts have been lying vacant for almost a year now.

Due to the manpower crunch, five super class one level officers are looking after nine state level offices currently, and they have been given additional charge of other offices as well.  The crunch directly affects students of the state board as Balbharti, the institute responsible for publishing and distribution of school textbooks was unable to complete the task on time his year.

Director of State Primary and Secondary Education Shridhar Salunke

The institute has no fulltime director, the distribution process affected students in several districts of the state. The Balbharti director post had fallen on Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) chairperson Sarjerao Jadhav’s shoulders from May 2012.

Pune is known as an education hub, as the head offices of the Maharashtra State Board, State Examination Council, State Council for Education Research and Training (SCERT), Adult and Minority Education Directorate, Maharashtra State Bureau of Textbook Production and Curriculum Research (Balbharti), Balchitravani, State Primary Education Director and Secondary Education Director are based in the city.

Dipti Chiwate Headmistress of Kataria High school

From managing school scholarships to conducting board exams, and from framing syllabus to distributing textbooks, all the major work is done at these offices. From January 2012 however, senior-most posts of four of these offices have been lying vacant, leading to delays in many important decisions being taken.

The same is the case with director posts for the primary and secondary education departments. Dr Shridhar Salunke has basic charge of director of secondary and higher secondary education. But as the former primary education director retired in May this year, he has take charge as primary education director as well since May 2012.

Founder Member of Shikshan Hakk Manch Matin Mujawar

After the Supreme Court’s decision to implement 25 per cent reservation quota for economically backward students in private schools under the Right To Education (RTE) Act, the state education department has started implementing the scheme.  However, the state has failed in implementing this scheme, as the expected number of admissions was not done this academic year, which Dr Salunke confirmed as a fact. 

“Only 38 per cent admissions have been done through the RTE quota this year. There are 2.09 lakh seats available in private schools, which are supposed to be filled through the RTE scheme. But till date, only 73,000 students sought admission under the scheme,” Salunke said.  Education experts and activist claim that one of the major reasons this has happened is because there is no fulltime director for primary education. 

The State Examination Council (SEC) conducts Std IV and Std VII state level school scholarship examinations. But the Commissioner of the SEC Mahaveer Mane also has additional responsibility as director of Balchitravani, an institute that produces audio-visual programs for school children.  Gangadhar Mhamane, state joint director of education has additional charge of the Adult and Minority Education department. On the other hand, the current deputy director education (Pune) has a total of three charges. Along with his current charge, he has been given charge as deputy director, Balchitravani, since the past two years. He was also appointed in SCERT as deputy director four months ago. 

Deepti Chivate, principal of Sheth Dagduram Kataria High School said that schools did face problems this year due to delayed decisions. “The state education department has revised the Std IX syllabus this year, but no workshop of all the subjects has been organised for teachers till date. Same is the case with the new subject Information Communication Technology. The Maharashtra Board informed us in August about this new subject to be introduced in Std IX. At this stage, it is difficult for the school administration to include this subject,” Chivate said.

Directors wanted
Currently, the institutes do not have fulltime directors, including in the State Primary Education, Balbharti, Adult and Minority Education and Balchitravani.  When asked, Primary-Secondary Education Director Dr Shridhar Salunke said, “To promote a joint director level officer to the post of director, the individual should have at least five years experience. To become a deputy director, the officer should work for three years as an education officer. Currently, we don’t have officers meeting the criteria and that is why these posts are vacant.” 

He added that two joint directors will be promoted as directors shortly, which will partially take care of the manpower crunch. On the other hand, a deputy director level officer said on condition of anonymity, “As many state level offices based in the city don’t have fulltime leadership, the state government can relax the norm of minimum experience for junior level officers. The government should first seek to stop the ongoing loss in these education offices.” 

Education activists cry foul
Shikshan Hakka Manch, an NGO in the city, has worked hard to spread awareness about implementing the 25 per cent reservation quota for economically backward students under the RTE in private schools. “I have actually experienced how the processes are being delayed because the post of primary education director is vacant. Secondary Education Director Dr Salunke has taken a lot of time to implement the scheme in private schools in the state,” said Matin Mujawar, chairperson of Shikshan Hakka Manch. 

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