On 14th January, the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamta Bannerjee, in a meeting with the university vice-chancellors, principals of colleges and the other education department officials, put forth a proposal in the press conference that followed in the presence of Education Minister Partha Chatterjee. The proposal is being called a two-pronged or twin strategy to solve the crisis of dearth of school teachers in schools run by the state.
One part of the strategy includes pushing up class V to the primary level and the other part of the strategy aims at recruiting graduates and post-graduates as interns for teaching in the schools thus proposed. The Chief Minister herself has been recorded saying that the inclusion of class V in the primary level could combat the shortage of teaching staff at that level.
The recruiting of interns as teachers out of the pool of fresh graduates and postgraduate students will be for a period of two years at both the primary and the secondary school levels. The interns at the primary level would receive a stipend of Rs. 2,000 every month while those at the secondary level would receive Rs. 2,500.
In essence, this would be the third tier to the already existing two tiers in the teaching staff which is the teachers and para-teachers or contractual teachers. The Chief Minister is also proposing a career graph for the intern teachers. During their two year term, their performance will be continually evaluated. At the culmination of their term, they will be provided with a certificate that will be of much use during the recruitment process of the regular teaching staff. These interns will be given a priority in that process.
While the crisis of school teachers is not ubiquitous in West Bengal, with some regions having more than adequate, however, there are some interior pockets like Sunderbans, Jhargram, and Dooars which are crying for help. The strategy is specifically aimed at improving the scenario in these pockets.
According to the department officials, among the 9000 state-sponsored secondary and higher secondary schools, there are nearly one lakh teaching posts out of which nearly 8200 posts are vacant. More than half of these vacancies are seen in Sunderbans, Jhargram, and Dooars. This excludes the data from state-run primary schools as it is yet to be calculated by the department officials.
The Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamta Banerjee had said in the press conference that she will engage the chief secretary and the finance secretary to work on the budget provisions for such a program. She was also recorded confirming that an umbrella committee has been set up which includes the Education Minister, higher education secretary and vice-chancellors of Jadavpur and Calcutta University as its members. The committee will be outlining the entire road map of the Program and will be required to submit a report soon on the same.
The press conference also included several other aspects of the educational curriculum such as revising the class XII syllabus, however, the proposal of recruiting interns as teaching staff made the biggest headline.