In spite of the government’s lofty promises of educational reform, a concerning reality has come to light: approximately half of the positions for Block Primary Education Officers (BPEOs) are currently vacant. What is particularly alarming is that Education Minister Harjot Bains’ own district is among the worst affected.
According to data compiled by the Democratic Teachers’ Front, out of the 228 education blocks, a staggering 111 BPEO positions remain unfilled. Astonishingly, in Education Minister Bains’ hometown of Ropar, all 10 BPEO positions are vacant.
Here is a breakdown of the numbers:
- 111 positions vacant across 228 education blocks
- 18 out of 21 positions vacant in Hoshiarpur
- 10 positions vacant in Education Minister’s district, Ropar
- 14 out of 15 positions vacant in Amritsar district
- 14 out of 19 positions vacant in Ludhiana district
Similarly, in Hoshiarpur, where there are 21 sanctioned BPEO positions, a staggering 18 remain unfilled. The situation is dire in other districts as well, with 14 out of 15 positions vacant in Amritsar, 14 out of 19 in Ludhiana, six out of seven in SBS Nagar, one out of three in Barnala, two out of eight in Fatehgarh Sahib, and five out of 17 positions vacant in Jalandhar. The situation continues to worsen, with six out of nine positions vacant in Kapurthala, two out of eight in Mohali, four out of five in Mansa, three out of nine in Tarn Taran, two out of 16 in Patiala, three out of seven in Pathankot, one out of eight in Fazilka, three out of six in Muktsar, five out of seven in Bathinda, one out of five in Faridkot, two out of nine in Sangrur, one out of three in Malerkotla, and eight out of 19 in Gurdaspur remaining unfilled.
Vikram Dev Singh, the State President of the Democratic Teachers’ Front, along with General Secretary Mukesh Kumar, expressed concerns over the detrimental impact of these vacancies on basic education, primary education, the midday meal program, book distribution, grants, and other crucial educational initiatives. Furthermore, many BPEOs have been burdened with additional responsibilities in various other blocks.
In response to this alarming situation, the leaders demanded that 75% of the vacant positions be filled through promotions, with the remainder being filled through direct recruitment.
The matter of advertising 75 direct recruitment positions has been in limbo for an extended period, as the promotion quota for BPEOs, headmasters, and principals was reduced from 75% to 50% during the previous government’s tenure. The union is now calling for the government to reinstate the promotion quota to 75%.
Director General of School Education, Vinay Bublani, announced that the department is in the process of developing a comprehensive five-year plan to address the issue and fill each vacant position.
Education Minister Harjot Bains assured that they are actively working on promotions to expedite the filling of these critical positions.