The government's education department has more than 600 posts lying vacant across Kupwara as authorities appear oblivious to badly affected education services and planning in the frontier district.
Among these vacant positions are the crucial posts of five zone heads at the administrative level, besides 23 headmasters, 225 lecturers and 325 masters.
"Their absence takes a toll on the normal functioning of these offices and posts," an official of the education department admitted.
He said the five education zones of Vilgam, Trehgam, Drugmulla, Rajwar and Mawer were left without "permanent" zonal education officers for several years.
Officials reveal the education zone of Vilgam was without Zonal Education Officer (ZEO) for a year now, Trehgam for seven months, Drugmulla for three years, Rajwar for one year and Mawer has none for the last five months.
"The absence of ZEOs is badly affecting the functioning of these zones," rued an official.
Residents say absence of officers at key positions and lack of teachers despite availability of posts was stalling progress in the education sector of the district.
"For years now we are hearing that soon teachers will be deputed," said a visibly concerned resident of remote Kralpora area of the border district.
The number of vacant posts and officers' positions is likely to increase as over a dozen teachers were going to soon superannuating.
"The district is reeling under massive staff crunch of 634 posts that have not been filled till date," officials said.
Teachers in the district are also questioning the education department's apathy.
"I want to ask the authorities when the main thing is lacking how come the education sector progress," a teacher said on condition of anonymity.
Chief education officer for Kupwara, Muhammad Shafi War acknowledged the district was faced with a staff crunch.