Mita Mukherjee, TT,  Calcutta, June 25: Nearly 10,000 of the 14,000 BEd seats in private colleges affiliated to the newly set up West Bengal University Of Teachers’ Training, Education Planning and Administration are lying vacant after the first round of counselling, mirroring the lack of interest in the course because of infrequent teacher-recruitment tests.
A BEd degree is a must to teach at the secondary and higher secondary levels – from Classes V to XII.
“Unlike the past few years, when the number of applicants was more than the number of seats, this year around 5,000 candidates have applied for the 14,000 seats so far,” an official of the university said. The official said a maximum of two more rounds of counselling could be held.
Since 2011, the government has held two tests to recruit teachers to secondary and higher secondary schools.
The last exam was held in August 2015, but the results are yet to be declared because of an order by Calcutta High Court, which is hearing cases lodged by candidates who did not secure jobs and another batch of cases relating to an alleged question paper leak.
The results of the previous exam, held in 2012, were declared in 2013, following which the government recruited 30,000 teachers against a vacancy of 44,000.
As many as 167 of the 300-odd BEd colleges in Bengal are affiliated to the West Bengal University Of Teachers’ Training, Education Planning and Administration. Of the 167, 11 are state-aided and 156 privately run.
The principal of a BEd college said the situation was so abysmal because there was a “general feeling among students that employment prospects were bleak”. According to the principal, this was the fallout of the government’s “failure” to hold recruitment tests regularly.
“Teachers have not been recruited to state-aided schools since 2014. The results of the exam held last year have been kept on hold. So there is a lack of interest in pursuing the BEd course,” the principal said.
Mita Banerjee, the vice-chancellor of the West Bengal University Of Teachers’ Training, Education Planning and Administration, said many seats were lying vacant, but added that the varsity hoped the response would be better when the second round of counselling was held “soon”.
Education minister Partha Chatterjee said recently in the Assembly that nearly 70,000 teachers’ posts were lying vacant. Of these, around 42,000 are at the secondary and higher secondary levels.
In February, the West Bengal School Service Commission, which conducts the teacher recruitment test, published an advertisement announcing an exam would be held to hire teachers for Classes IX to XII, but no date has been declared yet.
Manjusha Tarafdar, the principal of Pailan College of Education, a private college on the southern fringes of Calcutta, said only 20 of the college’s 100 BEd seats had been filled up after the first round of counselling.
“All 100 seats were taken in 2014 and we had to refuse many applications. Last year, 84 seats were filled up,” Tarafdar added.
The principal of a BEd college in South 24-Parganas said the situation was so dismal that the institution had decided to slash the fee by almost half. The principal said still only a handful of students had taken admission.
Institutions can charge up to Rs 1.5 lakh for the two-year BEd course.