Salman Khalil and Meer Faisal report:
Development in Nuh, a small district, located only 70 km away from the capital of India, is in limbo even after 72 years of independence. In a report published by the NITI Aayog in 2018, it was said that Nuh, part of the National Capital Region(NCR), is the most backward district in India.
The condition in Nuh, name changed from Mewat by the BJP in 2016, is plunging since it appears as if its people are cut off from the world and their mode of sustenance largely is from agriculture.
In this Muslim-majority region, where about 80% of Meo Muslims reside, there are 431 villages and 297 panchayats. According to the 2011 census, more than 10 lakh people reside here. The state of health, transport, employment are poor on all counts. However, education is the worst, rendering a large section of the population illiterate. There are fewer schools in the district, but the bigger problem is that the existing ones do not have teachers.
The condition of schools can be gauged from the fact that 111 schools in the district are running without teachers. Moreover, 93 schools are run solely by one teacher and in 74 primary-level schools, there is no teaching staff. The number of senior secondary schools are so low that many students travel almost 20 km to reach a senior secondary school.
Prior to the merging of Mewat Development Agency’s (MDA) 8 model schools with the Haryana education board by the BJP government, these schools were getting Rs 41 crore from the budget, and were evolving and setting an example. The government had said that students and teachers will benefit from this, but experts do not concur.
The dearth of colleges in the district looms large, but authorities lend no ear. People of Nuh have been demanding a university since 1983, but to no avail.
Recently, in the Assembly, Nuh MLA Chaudhary Aftab Ahmed questioned the government about the district’s education level. In response, Haryana Education Minister said that at present, out of the 8,506 sanctioned posts for Nuh, 4,181 remain vacant. Out of 1,626 posts of postgraduate teachers, 1,053 posts are vacant. Besides, the situation for the trained graduate teachers is very similar, whose 64.1% of posts are vacant. In the case of primary school teachers, out of 3,966 posts, 1,439 posts have not been filled.
The state of school education in the district is so deplorable from the absence of teachers that parents prefer to keep their children stay put.
The dropout rate is also very high since the transportation and infrastructure in the district is also pitiful, making it difficult for students to travel long distances daily.
As always, girl students face more challenges since parents are hesitant about sending them to distant schools with limited transportation. In addition to this, comes the severe shortage of teachers. The enrollment data for 2021 reflects a decline in the number of learners from primary to secondary school, with just 14,779 students registered in Class XI and XII, as opposed to 1,28,729 in primary school. There are 56,051 students in class VI-VII, but class IX-X admissions register only 25,968, which is less than half the number enrolled in upper primary classes.
When asked about the high dropout rate among girls, Saira, a resident of Raipuri village, said, “Jab hamare balak kuchh seekha hi naa, to hum kaailu bheze? Waise bhi tipayya su chhori baahar bhezni sahi na laga.”(When the students are not learning anything, why do we have to send our girls to schools at all? Besides, it is unsafe for them to go to another village by auto).
Out of the 111 schools without teachers in Nuh, a middle school in Biwan village has no teachers for its 129 girl students. Isab Khan, father of a 13-year-old girl, has filed a plea in a local court fighting for his child’s right to education and seeking redressal for the understaffed condition in a middle school in Biwan village.
Unavailability of teachers, the petitioner said, was affecting the education of his 13-year-old daughter and 129 students enrolled at the school.
Recounting the appalling state of her school, Janita Khan, a student of the same school, told Maktoob that the school has no teacher and they go on without daily lessons. “The slogan, ‘Come to learn, go to serve’ is ‘come to learn, go without lesson’ in our case.”
Speaking to Maktoob, Zia ul Haq who has been teaching for many years in Government Senior Secondary School Bhadas, Nuh, said, “Due to the lack of teachers, children’s enthusiasm for studies have declined, and we are seeing a trend where they gradually turn away from the schools. They engage in agricultural work. Without proper guidance, some students also indulge in criminal activities. All basic facilities should be made available in schools. non-academic work of teachers should be decreased. A conducive environment for education can be facilitated like this and students will start learning with more interest and attention.”
Advocate Sarfaraz Anjum Mor working in the Chandigarh High Court said, “Quality education should be provided to all children irrespective of caste, creed, race and religion as per the Right to education in Article 21-A, enshrined in the Constitution of India. Moreover, education for all children is considered to be the main sustainable development goal by the guidelines issued by the United Nations. There is neither a systematic mechanism to enrol students in remote villages of Nuh, nor sufficient teachers deputed and recruited for the same. The apathy of the education department specifically towards the Nuh region is troubling and unacceptable. It is pertinent to mention here that apart from sufficient teaching staff, there are no basic facilities available like potable water, clean toilets, sports kits and menstrual napkins for students. Therefore it is requested from the state government and the Central government to draft and bring special education policy to uplift the academic and literacy level of the region, irrespective of political ideology.”
Demand letter issued for recruitment of posts
A demand letter has been sent to the Haryana Staff Selection Commission for the recruitment of 315 posts of PGT, 370 of TGT and 952 of PRT.
This recruitment process will be completed in 4-5 months, the government said. However, this is not the first time the government made such promises to fill these vacancies.
Maktoob spoke to Advocate Ashok Aggarwal, who is practising in the Delhi High Court.
He said, “My client, Ishab Khan, was the first person from India, who reached the court for girls’ education. We reached the court for only one issue but there are many problems in schools in Nuh like clean toilets, drinkable water and many more. The Government should fill the vacant seats and quality education should be ensured to all the students. We will fight until we get our rights. The Government should fill these vacancies as soon as possible.”
Salman Khalil is an independent journalist based in Mewat and Meer Faisal is a Maktoob reporter who covers mainly Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi.