A single-teacher government school in a remote block of Jharkhand catering to mostly tribal and marginalised girl students has delivered 93.10 pass percentage in Class X (matriculation) exams, the results of which were announced earlier this week.
The Project Girls High School in Patamda block, around 40km from here, had only one teacher, Priyanka Thakur. Thakur joined the school in 2019 as a biology teacher but had to teach all the subjects between 2021 and 2023.
Out of the 29 students who appeared for the matriculation examination this year, 15 passed in the first division, nine in the second division and three in the third division. Two students were declared marginal as they failed to clear mathematics.
“I could have scored much better and be among the state toppers had there been more teachers in our school. However, I will try harder in the coming year and fetch more marks in the intermediate level,” said SanjuMahato who became the school topper by fetching 91.40 per cent.
Mahato, who is the daughter of a poor vegetable vendor and aspires to be a doctor, said she had no option but to seek admission in KasturbaGandhi Girls Residential School in Sundernagar, Jamshedpur, to pursue intermediate studies.
“In our block, there are no intermediate-level colleges and we have to travel 40km to Jamshedpur to take admission in a good college. I do not have the resources to travel daily to study in colleges far away. Hence I opted for a government residential school. I cannot take chances this time as it is crucial for my career. I am going to take up physics, chemistry, botany and zoology, fetch good marks and hope for a scholarship to get admission in a good medical college,” Mahato said.
Jharkhand has of late witnessed public agitations against single-teacher schools that stand in direct violation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009, which mandates a minimum of two teachers in all schools that have up to 60 students.
The Project Girls High School in Patamda has 86 students.
Provisional data of the United District Information System for Education (UDISE) for 2022-23 show that out of the 35,443 government schools in Jharkhand, 7,239 have single teachers.
“Lack of recruitment over the past few years was the main reason behind the rise of single-teacher schools.Earlier this month, we appointed 3,469 teachers,” state education secretary K. Ravi Kumar said.
Thakur, who was the sole teacher for the 2022-23 batch of matric examinees, felt that the students could have performed much better.
“I had to manage both classes IX and X and that too almost all subjects. Apart from that, I also doubled up as the headmistress and did the government’s data generation work for welfare scholarships. These students couldhave done far better if theyhad more teachers. I am certainly proud of their achievements. We have sent the answer papers of the twostudents who failed in maths for re-evaluation,” Thakur added.