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School runs on hope & free service

Basudebpur (East Midnapore), April 25: A government-aided junior high school with 150 students is limping on, with only the voluntary services of three women and a clerk.

Basudebpur Kanya Gurukul Girls’ Junior High School has no officially appointed teacher, thanks to a tussle between the East Midnapore secondary school authorities and the school managing committee.

While the education department says it is mandatory to recruit teachers through the School Service Commission, the committee insists it can make appointments on its own as it is run by a trustee board.

Arpita Das, Rima Bal and Manju Raul now teach in the hope that they will be appointed officially after the deadlock ends.

The managing committee had recruited two of these women in February 2005. But the district inspector (DI) of secondary schools struck down the appointments. The third teacher had been considered for appointment but no decision was taken.

“I don’t get any salary but I come to school for the sake of the students,” said Das, a postgraduate in English who stays 10km away in Mahishadal.

Bal, who has an MSc in botany, hopes the problems will be ironed out soon. “I attend school daily in the hope that we will get justice and our jobs,” said Bal, the acting teacher-in-charge.

Recognised by the government in 1968, the school had started with five teachers, including the headmistress. All of them retired by February 2004. Only a clerk, 58-year-old Nirmal Kumar Mishra, remained.

Mishra now does all administrative jobs, including collecting fees from students, drawing up class rosters and organising examinations.

“I submit the school accounts to the DI’s office every year. I even handled funds from the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan last year and had a room constructed,” he said.

Inspector of schools Dilip Kumar Ghatak said: “According to rules, teachers must be recruited through the commission. We’ve sent a report to the education department and are awaiting its directive.”

School education minister Partha De said Gurukul would have to follow the rules. “We have told the managing committee that teachers will have to be taken through the School Service Commission. A formal instruction will reach the committee shortly,” he said.

“We want to appoint an administrator for the school as the managing committee is refusing to recruit teachers according to rules,” Ghatak said.

The villagers have no op- tion other than sending their daughters to Gurukul. “There is no junior high school for girls nearby,” said Tridib Mondal, a farmer whose daughter Sharmistha is in Class VII.

The impasse has not affected the girls’ admission to high school. “It is not our job to check whether teachers have been recruited legally or not. We accept Class VIII report cards signed by the teacher-in-charge,” said S.K. Mishra, the head of the nearby Maharaj Nandakumar High School.

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