Guwahati: The Assam government today said it will focus more on popularising science and commerce streams for students while priority for this fiscal would be to boost Higher Secondary education.
Minister for Education and Health Himanta Biswa Sarma told the Legislative Assembly that a major problem faced by the education sector in Assam has been the disproportionately high number of students opting for arts and humanities stream.
"In the grass-root level our aim is to promote the science and commerce streams... That is where opportunities and jobs exist," Sarma said during the Zero Hour in the Assembly.
He disagreed with an opinion expressed by Asom Gana Parishad member Keshab Mahanta that priority should be given to education in arts.
"Our focus would be on science, commerce and IT. Lots of arts graduates are sitting idle...
"You visit any institute and you will see hundreds of students opting for political science as Honours subject. Later they get no jobs and this gives rise to resentment and frustration," Sarma said.
He, however, conceded that lack of government initiative has been a prime factor behind slow growth of science, technology and IT education.
"In many institutes, where you find good teachers in physics and chemistry, you notice that the post of botany teacher is lying vacant. At other place, you will notice that good laboratories are not available," the minister said.
Sarma said that 2013-14 would be devoted to "rationalisation", expansion and filling up of vacancies among other things in the Higher Secondary segment.
He said in 500 high schools, new Higher Secondary classes will be introduced and in 636 Higher Secondary colleges additional streams will be introduced where only a single stream exist currently.
"In the last year`s Budget, we announced that Higher Secondary classes would be added in 500 schools and asked each MLA to suggest five schools from within their own constituencies. I wrote letters to them in July last year but so far many MLAs have even failed to respond," Sarma said.
He added that 243 new teachers will be given appointment letters by August, while plans are afoot to recruit another 5,000 teachers.
Sarma said principals of all Higher Secondary colleges have been called for a meeting in Guwahati in May to discuss the way forward.
"This budget, the MLAs local area fund has been increased to Rs one crore per annum and I hope MLAs will spend some of their part of fund for education sector," he said.