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A Cry For Teachers: India's Education System Grapples With Heavily Understaffed Public Schools

India's educational system is currently marred, by a severe shortage of teachers. With a population of over 135 crores, there are approximately one crore teachers segregated into schools and colleges. This shortage of requisite teaching staff makes quality education a far cry for the children. A report by a child rights NGO says that there is a shortage of more than 5 lakh teachers in elementary schools, and about 14% of public secondary schools do not even have the required minimum of 6 teachers.


 


Presently, nearly 17.1% of vacancies in public schools are lying vacant. The highest vacancies are in Bihar (2.7 lakh), followed by Uttar Pradesh (2.1 lakh). In terms of percentage, Sikkim tops with 57.5% followed by Jharkhand, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh as reported by TOI.


 


In response to a question raised in Lok Sabha, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank had remarked, “The recruitment of teachers is a continuous process, and the vacancies keep arising due to retirement and additional requirements on account of enhanced students’ strength. Education is in the concurrent list of the Constitution. The recruitment, service conditions, and deployment of teachers come under the purview of the concerned State/UT Government.”


 


According to the data tabled by the ministry, six states have the meat of vacancies. These include Jharkhand(40.1%), Bihar(39.9%), Uttar Pradesh(28.8%), Uttarakhand(24.3%) and Chattisgarh(21.7%).


There are 61.8 lakh sanctioned posts for teaching staff in the country's public schools, of which no recruitment has been made, for 10.6 lakh posts for the academic session of 2020-21.


 


As per a UN report, India needs to recruit nearly 3 million primary teachers and 8 million secondary teachers by 2030 to make education a reality for every child in, the country.


The New Education Policy has marked a step towards a rational teaching and learning approach. The focus has been laid on universalizing access from early childhood to higher education. Integrating over two crores out of school children and work towards socio-economically weaker sections.


 


On the flip-side, more than 90,000 schools run single-handedly by 1 teacher combined at the primary and secondary level as per the data tabled by the Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Satya Pal Singh in the Parliament.


 


India today has nearly thrice(15 lakh) as many schools as China (5 lakh). But in education, we are still lagging. With policies like mid-day meals and opening schools in remote areas, the enrollment rate has increased significantly but not the quality of education. The teachers are overburdened with supervising mid-day meals, conducting surveys, and carrying out administrative and election duties apart from teaching.


 


Annual Status of Education Reports (ASER) states that nearly 50% of grade 5 children cannot read a class 2 text. Dropout rates have seen a surge. Around 30% of the enrolled students in class 1 graduate from class 12. The NITI Aayog has recommended merging schools that are within a short distance and provide transport and allowances. This method of clustering schools has borne fruit in states like Rajasthan and Jharkhand. Surplus teachers should be moved, to deficit schools to compensate for understaffing.


 


The Centre has slashed budgetary allocation to the education sector by 6% for FY 2021-22 when there is a need to invest in more to bring it back to normalcy post the COVID era. Rs 54873.66 crore for school education and Rs 38,350.65 crore for higher education have been allocated.


To successfully implement the New Education Policy, and cope with the teacher's crunch, it is imperative to invest more in the public sector.


 


According to an estimate, one in every six teachers in public schools is not professionally, trained. The Government needs to increase public education spending. The teachers need to be upskilled, vacancies should be filled in, within a stipulated time frame, and the teachers should not be burdened with additional tasks so that their focus remains on teaching. A proper policy framework is required, at each step to check for flaws thereby, making way for inclusive education and eventually successful implementation of New Education Policy.


Tags: Indian Education System Understaffed Public Schools Understaffing New Education Policy


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