Mumbai: As many as 1.63 lakh teaching aspirants are in the fray, as the state government, in its largest teacher recruitment drive in over a decade, looks to fill around 30,000 posts.
The hiring process, which includes the schools run by local self-governance bodies such as municipal corporations and zilla parishads, as well as private-aided and semi-aided schools, is being carried out after four years.
According to the state education commissioner, of 2,16,443 candidates who had appeared for the screening exam, Teacher Aptitude and Intelligence Test (TAIT), conducted in February-March, 1,62,562 aspirants filled the self-certification on PAVITRA (Portal for Visible To All Teacher Recruitment) website.
As the next step for the recruitment process, the commissioner has now asked the private-aided schools and local government bodies to advertise their vacant posts on the portal.
However, they have been asked to limit their openings to 80% of the available spots. The educational institutes have also been directed to get their roster rectified by the authorities. So far, 23 districts have prepared their rosters, while the remaining are yet to do so.
The state government had put a freeze on hiring teachers in primary, secondary and higher secondary schools in 2012 after it came to light during an official survey that there were excess teachers in many educational institutes.
While some of the schools were allowed to appoint teachers for certain subjects such as Mathematics and Science in the subsequent years, the full-fledged recruitment didn't resume until 2019, when the government began the centralized recruitment process for over 12,000 posts through the PAVITRA portal.
However, In May 2020, the state came out with a government resolution stalling all recruitment due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the state's finances. In December of the same year, teachers were excluded from this recruitment ban.
But so far only around 6,000 teachers have been hired across 196 institutes during the previous drive, as the government didn't find enough qualified for certain categories, especially the 15% posts reserved for ex-servicemen.
The state still has around 65,000 vacant posts for teachers in government-run and private-aided schools.
The aspirants have criticised the delay in the recruitment, as they claimed that many candidates were put off by the uncertainty of the hiring process.
"The last TAIT was conducted in 2017, but the recruitment didn't begin until 2019. Even this time, there has been a delay of several months. Many didn't appear for TAIT as they were not sure if and when the hiring would actually take place, said Santosh Magar, President, DEd BEd Students Association.