The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Primary schools till Class V

Calcutta, July 7: State-aided primary schools that meet a set of norms will be extended to Class V from Class IV to reduce the burden on high schools.

The government has also adopted an advance recruitment policy to ensure that all teaching posts in state-aided primary institutions are filled as soon as they fall vacant, school education minister Kanti Biswas told the Assembly today.

The minister said the extension of primary schools to Class V was needed to accommodate Class IV students attending 15,000 shishu siksha kendras (child education centres) in the state.

The centres — where children are offered education till Class IV — were set up as part of the government’s scheme for universalisation of primary education, said the education minister.

“Thousands of students are attending the shishu siksha kendras. After completing the preliminary education in the centres, the learners seek admission to Class V in the secondary level,” Biswas said.

“Unfortunately, most state-controlled and state-aided secondary schools where classes between V and X are offered do not have the infrastructure to accommodate the large number of students from the centres. Their problem will be solved if we are able to provide more capacity for taking in students in Class V in the primary schools,” said Biswas.

Biswas, however, said the government would grant permission for extension to only those primary institutions that fulfil criteria such as having a minimum of four full-time teachers and excess classrooms for accommodating the new students of Class V.

The education minister informed the Assembly that 300 primary schools have already been given permission to run up to Class V and many more are in the pipeline.

The minister said that at present, many primary schools are unable to impart quality education as most of their teaching posts remain vacant because of a long-drawn process of filling up vacancies.

Biswas told Abdul Mannan of the Congress that the government has decided to begin recruiting teachers for primary schools in advance on the basis of the “probable” vacancies that may arise each year because of retirements.

Under the existing system, the government begins recruiting teachers for the 53,000 primary schools only after the posts fall vacant, pointed out the minister.

“In the old system, we took a long time to fill up vacant teaching posts in primary schools,” explained the minister.

“We found it was the students who suffered if the posts remained vacant for a long time. This prompted us to prepare the list of the vacancies in advance,” Biswas said.

The minister regretted that only 48 per cent of the total number of primary teachers in Bengal have completed teachers’ training courses. He pointed out that 60 per cent of primary teachers at the national level are trained.

In response to a directive from the Centre, the state government has made it mandatory for primary teachers to complete teachers’ training courses, Biswas said.

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