The current challenge in school education in India remains that of the quantity and quality of its primary systems.
The Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) recent report on the Children’s Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009, known as the TEN Act, was tabled in Parliament last week, confirmed many irregularities in its implementation.
One of the biggest flaws of the RTE law revealed in the CAG report is that the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR), which should ideally be 30:1 in primary schools (PS) and 35:1 in upper primary schools (UPS), is abysmal in 11 states.
Section 25 of the Act states that within three years (31 March 2013) from the effective date of this Act, the relevant government and local authority shall ensure that the PTR is maintained in every public school.
According to the law, the standards are as follows:
The reality on the ground, however, is very different. Even though RTE standards clearly prohibit one-teacher schools, the CAG report observed thousands of cases of single-teacher schools.
The states that did not comply with the law are:
According to the report, the PTR in PS and UPS schools was in the range of 50:1 and 61:1 between 2010 and 2016. Additionally, 3,269 PS (8%) and 127 UPS (1%) were operating with a only teacher. in Bihar in 2015-2016.
In Gujarat, 64 schools with a total of 5,698 students had no teachers in 2013-2014 and 677 schools had only one teacher in March 2016.
On the other hand, there were 843 and 7,333 excess teachers respectively in 1,539 PS and 4,243 UP in March 2016.
The report also adds that no effort has been made by the director of primary education for a rational deployment of teachers.
In Chhattisgarh, the report observed both negative and excess PTRs. In 2015-16, in 30,919 PS and 13,408 UPS, in 4,362 PS and 2,112 UPS there was an unfavorable PTR, and in 13,947 PS and 8,227 UPS there was an excess PTR.
After being reported, the state education department said action would be taken as required by law. However, the report says the department did not fix the teacher deployment.
In Madhya Pradesh, the report revealed that up to 48,132 PS and 15,107 UPS had unfavorable PTR during the period 2010-16.
However, in some districts tested, 2,925 teachers and 729 headteachers were working excess in 2,444 PSs compared to the RTE law requirement and 751 teachers and 621 full-time headteachers were working excess in 886 UPS. Between 17,938 (15%) and 20,245 (18%) schools worked with single teachers between 2010 and 2016.
In eight districts, there were no teachers in 1,329 PSs and UPSs. Compared to the requirement of three teachers, two teachers were available in 7,269 (24%) (2013-14) to 7,937 (26%) (2015-16) UPS.
5,282 PS (15%) and 35 UPS (0.67%) had single teachers as of March 31, 2016 and additionally there were 1,928 PS (5.5%) and 829 UPS (16%) with a PTR unfavorable.
In Haryana, the report states that there are 788 PSs (8.86%) and 269 UPSs (4.79%) operating with single teachers in 2015-16.
A total of 2,023 (3.4%) schools operated in the state with only one teacher in 2015-2016. In the sampled districts, the audit noted that 85 schools with 2,379 students (2015-16) operated with one teacher versus the norm of two to three teachers.
There were 1,406 PS (10.78%) and 228 UPS (3.61%) operating with a single teacher.
Overall, 11,071 PSs (29%) and 365 UPSs (2%) operated with a single teacher in 2015-2016.
The report says there were 197 (2.39%) one-teacher schools in 154 public schools in 2015-2016.
Review of the records of the State Project Manager, State Education Mission Authority Meghalaya (SEMAM) during the period 2010-16 revealed a favorable PTR ratio. However, 224 one-teacher schools reflect an irrational deployment of teachers as of March 31, 2016.
In 2016, according to the government, there were 9 lakh vacancies for teachers in public schools across the country. After the promulgation of the RTE in 2010, two deadlines were set by the government to implement the law.
One was to meet the requirement to recruit teachers by March 2013. More so, 2015 was the deadline for the regularization and training of all teachers.
However, none of these requirements have been met to date.
The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), which is responsible for implementing the RTE Act, had requested that the deadline for these requirements be extended until March 2019. On July 20, Parliament agreed to extend the deadline until March 2019. in 2019.
RTE’s national manager, Ambarish Rai, told Catch: “The fact is that there are insufficient resources for school education in the country. We invest barely 3% of our GDP in education and even less in school education. There are not enough resources to hire qualified teachers for public schools. TEN standards are very minimal compared to other countries. Even these standards are not met.
He added, “The current state of the PTR is horrible in the country. Untrained teachers are hired on a contractual basis for very low salaries. A total of 5,000 contract teachers are not trained, which is a flagrant violation of the RTE law. More so, 10% of schools nationwide are one-teacher schools out of 1.5 million public schools. Recruitment of quality teachers does not happen because state governments do not have the resources. All recruitments should have taken place in 2013. Funding for education is insufficient and allocated funds are unused.
RTE activist Annie Namla told Catch: “Qualified teachers prefer to seek employment in private schools rather than public schools because public schools do not pay appropriate salaries. Apart from this, the deployment of teachers at the district level is not free from corruption and bribery. , the SSA is more focused on educational content and programs than on administration and implementation. Block Education Officers and District Education Officers have the main responsibility for the implementation of RTE standards, which they are obviously not equipped to do properly.