Ahmedabad: Due to the shortage of candidates, the Gujarat Education Department is exploring the possibilities of relaxing the recruitment criteria for higher secondary teaching staff in Statistics, Philosophy and Geography streams.
The opinon of an eight-member committee comprising officials of the education department as well as education experts has been sought for the changes. Out of 230 vacancies opened for teaching statistics in government and grant-in-aid higher secondary schools, only 18 have been filled.
Similarly, for 155 posts of philosophy teachers, 48 have been filled and against 128 vacancies for teaching geography, only 46 have been filled. Going by the norm, allocation of teachers posts for higher secondary schools is done on the basis of number of classes. For instance, for every two classes — 11 and 12 — five teachers are allocated. Based on the subjects offered by the schools, appointment is done by the education department.
An average of 97,000 to two lakh students opt for these subjects each, in classes 11 and 12 in the general stream.
Several committee members that The Indian Express spoke to said that as not many colleges and universities offer these as major, thus many students end up not taking it as their major in undergraduation or post-graduation.
Director Primary Education MI Joshi, who is one of the committee members constituted to resolve the issue, told this paper, “After looking at possible reasons for shortage of teachers in these subjects, it came out that the candidates applying, when they were students, did not have many options to study these as major subjects in undergraduation and postgraduation as very limited institutes offer these subjects. Institutes shared that there is a shortage of professors teaching these subjects.”
The shortfall surfaced when the education department completed the process of online recruitment of 2,307 teachers for grant-in-aid secondary schools and 3,382 teachers for higher secondary schools in July. The previous hiring of teachers was in 2016. Going by the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) data, 1.92 lakh of the total four lakh students in Class 12 this year have opted for Statistics, while 1.58 lakh students have registered for Geography and over 97,000 for Philosophy. The education department is concerned that clearing the Teachers’ Aptitude Test (TAT) as mandated by the Right to Education Act, which is necessary for qualifying for these jobs, has led to the dwindling number of qualifying candidates. Education department data reveals that those who cleared these subjects in the last TAT held in 2018, was fewer than the number of vacancies.
President of Gujarat Higher Secondary Teachers Association, Bharat Patel, said, “Since there are not many graduates and postgraduates with a B.Ed. in these three subjects, there is a shortage. To overcome this, we have proposed certain changes in the selection norms.” According to the data, Surat district has the highest number of 34 vacancies for Statistics, while Panchmahal has the maximum vacancies for Philosophy teachers at 26 and Dahod district has the highest number of vacancies for Geography teachers at 16. To tackle the shortage, the commissioner schools has sought to relax the eligibility criteria, including relaxation in TAT eligibility.
“The selection committee for secondary and higher secondary teachers in grant-in-aid schools has submitted its recommendations to the research branch of the GSHSEB. A decision is expected soon,” said a senior education official.
The official added, “At present, the situation is such that a candidate who has graduation, post graduation and TAT cleared in these three subjects is sure to get appointed as a government teacher for higher secondary schools.”
The recommendations by the committee submitted to the GSHSEB, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, states, “Due to non-availability of teachers in subjects of geography, philosophy and statistics for higher secondary grant-in-aid schools as per the Government Resolution of January 11, 2021, maximum posts are lying vacant… Since eligible teachers were not available as per the conditions framed by the education department due to which a large number of posts remained vacant, which is affecting education of students… To prevent this, the regulations framed by the education department as on January 14,2021 should be revised.”
At a meeting of the selection committee of grant-in-aid secondary and higher secondary schools, it was unanimously recommended to revise the hiring criteria as there were fewer applicants than the posts advertised as on March 2, 2021. GSHSEB joint secretary BN Rajgor, heading the research branch, said, “The recommendations of the selection committee members of higher secondary schools have been forwarded to the expert committee of the education committee… Every member has been requested to submit his opinion on these recommendations.”
The committee has suggested that even those candidates who have taken these three subjects as secondary in undergraduation levels should be considered. For instance, in Geography, the existing qualification is BA/BSc in Geography. This has been suggested to be replaced as “Geography as main subject or as a secondary subject”. Similar change has been suggested for postgraduation.