The quality consciousness of the schools’ authorities and a glut of students opting for the science stream were responsible for the dearth of seats in the Higher Secondary (HS) section of institutions in the city and the districts.
Answering a call-attention motion raised by Congress MLA Asit Mitra on the problem faced by students in getting admission to HS sections, state education minister Kanti Biswas told members in the Legislative Assembly that though there was no shortage in the total number of seats in the HS section, 5,015 more candidates had sought admission this year, against the previous year’s figure. The pressure was higher in the city schools than in the districts.
Last year, 3.24 lakh students were admitted in the HS section, against 3.29 lakh this year. Justifying his claim that there was no shortage of seats in the HS section, he said there were 3003 HS schools in West Bengal where 3.75 lakh students could be accommodated. Moreover, there were 65 colleges with HS sections where another 13,000 students could be admitted.
He said the state government was phasing out HS sections from colleges. With 3.25 lakh prospective entrants and with 3.88 lakh seats being available, there was a net surplus of over 59,000 seats.
He said in West Bengal, students preferred to study science. This was reflected in the all-India-level comparative study. Whereas the national average of students who preferred to study science in HS was 35 per cent, it was 41 per cent in West Bengal.
When MLA Asit Mal pointed out that a good number of HS schools lacked the basic infrastructure to teach science subjects, Biswas said approval for science school streams was given on the basis of school inspectors’ reports.
The inspectors of schools visit a school before approving a proposal for starting an HS section. They carry out physical verifications on the condition of a classroom and the laboratory facilities available in the school.
Admitting that temporary problems may have cropped up in teaching science in some schools due to vacant posts of teachers, the minister said: “We are creating a large number of teaching posts with a consolidated rate of pay of Rs 2,000 per month.”
Besides, a good number of vacancies had already been filled up through the school service commission.