A State whose government calls itself progressive and given to the issues of importance pertaining to education, and which aspires to be a knowledge society, now has to negotiate a very discomfiting and murky faultline: it is home to 2,723 single-teacher lower primary schools. This is what Assam Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told the State Assembly on Tuesday. The situation is alarming: (1) the solitary teacher in any such school is not teaching in the first place – it is impossible for a single teacher to teach a whole school even if he is a genius because that is not how education in the real sense is, and can be, imparted to tiny tots; (2) it is a grave injustice to both the teacher and his students because (a) the teacher remains stressed all the time and therefore cannot concentrate on his job of teaching and controlling a whole school and (b) his students cannot learn anything because their teacher cannot teach anything; (3) it militates against the aspirations of poor and disempowered people in rural areas, characterized by the chronicity of poverty and backwardness, who send their children to such schools for the latter to be educated and become empowered citizens of the future but who have to be at the mercy of such ‘education’ as is imparted in such structures that cannot be called schools in any way in any civilized society; and (4) it is a murder of the very cause of education because there is no education happening in any way. So, Mr Minister, how concerned are you really? And if you are, would you tell the helpless and hapless parents of those students as to what your formula is, if there is any, to launch a war on such ‘education’ and evolve real education to the aid of the needy children there?
The Solitary Teacher