Three cheers for women teachers
Women have an intuitive way of dealing with children and this has stood them in good stead in imparting education at the primary level, says Amrik Singh
he Supreme Court has recently given a judgment that is likely to have a long-range impact, both on our education and our social functioning. The Allahabad High Court had ruled some time back that 50 per cent of the teachers at the primary levelshould be women. This was not to the liking of some people.



Three cheers for women teachers

Women have an intuitive way of dealing with children and this has stood them in good stead in imparting education at the primary level, says Amrik Singh

The Supreme Court has recently given a judgment that is likely to have a long-range impact, both on our education and our social functioning. The Allahabad High Court had ruled some time back that 50 per cent of the teachers at the primary levelshould be women. This was not to the liking of some people.

In the appeal filed before the Supreme Court, the High Court judgment has been upheld and this is now the law of the land. While the Seventh All-India Educational Survey is still in progress, what was given in the course of the Sixth Survey still holds ground. There would be some marginal changes when the findings of the new educational survey become available. But nothing earth-shaking is likely to happen. When the Sixth Survey was undertaken, the data collected about the percentage of women teachers was disturbing. In West Bengal, this figure was only something like 14 per cent.

When I analysed the data, I found that while states like Orissa, Bihar and UP were lagging behind in the recruitment of women teachers, there were also states like Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, which were doing exceedingly well in this regard. There were also middle-layered states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka etc. Some of the states, however, were shockingly poor in this regard, and West Bengal happened to be one of these. I wrote about those figures in the newspapers and even though some time went by, I could not forget the fact that West Bengal should have been doing so badly. It is one of the more progressive states and has not been doing too badly even in respect of literacy.

A couple of years later, I happened to be in Kolkata, where, among others, I met the Education Minister of the state. When I asked him about the poor performance of his state in this regard, he told me an interesting story that has a bearing on the latest judgment of the Supreme Court. When the CPM government came to power and he became the Education Minister, he found that rules for recruitment were not all that well drafted. Thereupon, he undertook the exercise and framed a set of rules that came to be enforced. A year or so later, these rules were challenged in the state Assembly by the Congress party which had lost power to the CPM.

Not satisfied with the answer he gave, the matter was taken to the court. It took almost four-five years for the court to uphold those rules. Thereupon, the matter went to the High Court, which took as many more years to pronounce its judgment and again upheld the rules. The matter was now taken to the Supreme Court and its final judgment came 16 years after the matter had been first raised. What is more, the judgment was again in favour of those rules. When the matter was reported to the State Cabinet, everyone felt happy to hear about it, but the minister also took occasion to point out that experience had shown that these rules were working against the recruitment of women, which was not something desirable. Therefore, they required to be amended further. But the Cabinet did not go with him and the matter remained undecided. In this connection, the experience of the erstwhile USSR might be recalled. No country in the world had spread literacy as fast as that country had done. Even though the Revolution took place in 1917, and, this was followed by a civil war, as also foreign intervention, in about a decade’s time, the entire population, young and old, had been made literate. From 1917 to 1928, only 11 years had elapsed. Within these 11 years, this important job of imparting literacy to every man, woman and child had been completed. While there were several reasons for this unprecedented achievement, one of the important ones was that almost three fourth of the teachers at the primary level were women. Women have an intuitive way of dealing with children and this stood them in good stead in imparting education at the primary level.

Right till the day that that country disintegrated, this continued to be the situation. Even at the secondary level, the percentage of women teachers in that country was approximately 50 per cent. In other words, women who constituted half the population also constituted at least half of the total number of teachers.

All this was within the knowledge of the minister concerned and there was nothing he had to be told about it, but the problem was that the Cabinet did not authorise him to amend the rules and the situation in West Bengal therefore continues to be difficult. After the Supreme Court judgment, however, it should be possible for that government to reopen the issue.

This long story has been told because it needs to be recognised that women perform much better at the primary level than men do. This being so, it will aid the process of the spread of literacy. Experience all over the world has demonstrated this fact. Almost every country without exception recognises this fact and this is reflected, as also provided for, at the time of the recruitment, of teachers in quite a number of countries.

In our situation there is also another factor. Absenteeism amongst teachers is widespread all over the country. In Punjab, it is said to be 40 per cent plus, whereas, in Haryana, it is somewhat below that figure. In Himachal Pradesh, absenteeism is not much of a problem. Social opinion in favour of the spread of literacy is virtually universal.

Therefore, it is not much of a problem in that state. Advantage should be taken of this judgment of the Supreme Court by all the states regardless of what is happening currently. Absenteeism amongst schoolteachers is, properly speaking, a relatively recent phenomenon. This is not to suggest that it did not exist earlier. It did, but it was not a social phenomenon, as it has become of late. Why so?

The answer is not too difficult to find. The growing incidence of corruption, the increasing inability of the judicial system to deliver the goods and several other factors have contributed to it significantly. It is not possible to deal with each one now, but one thing that requires to be done is not being done, and that is involving parents in the management of schools. At one time, when the scale of operations was small, the institution of the District Inspector of Schools mattered a good deal.

Of late, that system of supervision has become almost a joke. Apart from that, almost everything, at least in the government, is sought to be controlled politically as well as administratively. Recent experience has conclusively shown that this is not the way to go about it. It is obsolete as well as non-functional. What we have to do is to devise a new system of management and we are not doing it.

Without going into the wider issue, one thing is incontestable. No one can say that women teachers will not be guilty of absenteeism. Some of them will indulge in it without question. At the same time, they will be much less guilty of it than men. It is possible to discuss this issue further, but it is not necessary. Not many people will dispute this statement as a general proposition. To say this much for the present for the purposes of the argument should be enough.

In educational terms, recruiting a larger number of women teachers would be the right thing to do. In any case, it is a legal requirement now. Not to have done it all these years has been in the nature of a self-inflicted wound. Henceforward, planned attempts should be made to amend the rules if necessary to reserve 50 per cent seats for women and make the deficiency good within the next few years.

It is mainly in the Hindi speaking states that the percentage of literacy is low, though a considerable proportion of the tribesmen, too, is lagging behind. The explanation in their case is overall backwardness and not any case of prejudice against women becoming literate, as one witnesses in the case of Rajasthan.

To put it in other words, the status of women can be significantly improved. In certain backward states as and when literacy can be popularised, indeed universalised. One important way of doing so would be to engage more and more women in the job of spreading literacy. In plain words, not only would the rate of literacy go up markedly, the status of women too would improve. In that case, this decision would be both an inspiration and a legal mandate.

This fact in turn would also improve the health status of the community as a whole. If today, India is lagging behind a large number of other countries, it is because we have been neglecting both the spread of literacy and what is generally called early childhood care.

From those two points of view, this judgment of the Supreme Court can have a long-range impact on the future of India. We should all welcome it and take those administrative and academic steps that require to be taken.



Armed Forces

June 20

Indian Navy, INS Kunjali, Colaba, Mumbai 400005.

Non-Matric Entry Recruitment- Musician Sailors

Elig: Unmarried Indian males, Cl 8 proficient in music with theoretical kw & pract skill on any instru. DoB: 1 Oct ’85 - 30 Sep ’88.

Selectn: Preliminary Screening & Medical Fitmess Test.

Details: Employment News (21 -27 May)/ Website.

June 15

Indian Navy, Post Bag No. 04, R K Puram (Main), New Delhi 110066

SSC Officers in Tech Branches (Submarine Cadre) (Feb ‘06 Course)

Elig: Unmarried Indian males, BE/ BTech (Mech/ Elect/ Electron/ Telecom/ Control Engg; 60%). DoB: 2 Feb ’81 – 1 Aug’86.

Selectn: SSB Interview, Tests.

Details: Employment News (21 -27 May)/ Website.

June 11

Indian Air Force

Recruitment in Ground Duty Branches:
Ground Duty Officers Course (Men)

Elig: Unmarried Indian males. Age Limit: 25 yrs. Bachelor’s & Master’s deg/ PhD/ LLB/ PGDBA/ MBA/ MCA/ BE/ BTech

Selectn: Common Entrance Test: 7 Aug

Details: Employment News (21 -27 May)/ Website.


June 15

School of Energy & Environmental Studies, Fac/o Engineering Sciences, Devi Ahilya University, Khandwa Rd Campus, Indore 452017 (MP)

1) MTech (Energy Mgt)

2) MPhil (Energy & Environ)

Elig: For (1): BE/ BTech/ MSc (Phy)/ Engg Assoc Exam (55%)
For (2): PG deg (Environ Sc/Energy; 55%)

Selectn: Interview: For 1: 6 Jul; For 2: 11 Jul

Appln F: Send Rs. 200/- by DD fvg "Head, SEES" payable at Indore with stamped (Rs. 50/-), self-add A4 size env to the above add/ d’load from website .

Details: Employment News (21 -27 May)/ Website.

June 24

Indo Swiss Training Centre, Central Scientific Instruments Organization (CSIR, New Delhi) Sec-30, Chandigarh 160030

1) Dip in Instrument Tech (3-yr)

2) Adv Dip in Dye & Mould Making (4-yr)

3) Adv Dip in Mechatronics & Industrial Automation (4-yr)

Elig: Cl 10 with Maths & Sc (55%). DoB: 1 Sept ‘86 – 1 Mar ‘90.

Selectn: Entrance Test: 07 Aug at Ch’grh.

Appln F: Send Rs 700/- by DD fvg "Central Scientific Instruments Organisation, Chandigarh" payable at SBI, Sec 30, Chandigarh (Code: 1443) with stamped (Rs 42/-), self-add slip (12 x 6 cm) to the Principal at the above add by 10 June.

Details: Employment News (21 -27 May)/ Website.

June 24

Netaji Subhash Institute of Technology, Azad Hind Fauj Marg, Sec-3, Dwarka, New Delhi-110045.

MTech in Signal Processing/ Info System/ Process Control

Details: D’load from website.


June 22

University of Delhi, Fac/o Ayurvedic & Unani Medicines, 6th Floor, V.P. Chest Institute Bldg, Delhi 110007


Appln F: Send Rs 175/- by DD fvg "Registrar, University of Delhi", payable at Delhi on any Nationalised Bank with a self-add env (10"x 8") by 13 June to above add.

Details: Website

Symbiosis Dept of Health Sciences, Senapati Bapat Road, Pune 411004, (Mah)

1) BSc in Imaging Sc/ Med Lab Tech (3 yr).

2) PG Dip in Imaging Sc/ Med Lab Tech/ Hosp & Health Care Mgt (1 yr), Emergency Med Sc (1 yr, weekend, PT)
3) PG Dip In Medico Legal Sys/ Hosp & Health Care Mgt (1 yr, Distance Learning)

Appln F: Send Rs 800/- by DD fvg "Symbiosis Centre of Health Care, (SCHC)" payable at Pune to above add. On reverse of DD, mention in capital letters prog/s appld for/ your name/ postal add & pin code.

Details: Website

June 20

Apollo Hospitals, Educational &Research Foundation & Medvarsity.

1) Fellowship in Holistic Health Care (1 yr)
2) Fellowship in Sports Sc (6-mnth)
3) Fellowship in Cardiac Rehab (6-mnth)

Appln F & Details: Website.

June 13

Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture & Forestry, Nauni-Solan 173230 (HP)

All India Competitive Entrance Test for BDS (2005-06)
(for Pvt Un-aided Dental Colleges)

Elig: 10+2 (PCB; 50%+Eng). Age: 17-25 yrs (on Dec 31/05)

Selectn: Written Test: June 26.

Appln F: Send Rs 750/- by DD fvg "Comptroller, Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture & Forestry, Nauni, Solan" from University Enquiry Counter at the above add.

Physically Handicapped

June 30

Thakur Hari Prasad Institute of Research & Rehabilitation for Mentally Handicapped, Vivekanandnagar, Dilsukhnagar, Hyderabad 500 060

PG Diploma in Developmental Rehabilitation
(RCI recogd, Affltd to Osmania Univ)

Elig: Bachelor’s deg in (Mental Retard/ Speech Pathol)/ MBBS/ BOT/ BPT/ PG Dip in Child Psychol & Child Dev OR Bachelor’s deg with 3 yrs wk ex in relv area OR Master’s deg in Psychol/ Social Wk/ Educn/ Sociol/ Home Sc/ Child Dev/ Biol Sc/ Nutrition & Rehab Sc.

Selecn: Entrance Test & Interview : 16 Jul.

Appln: Send stamped self-add env (12"x5") to Director General at the above add (for appln forms, prospectus etc) by 25 June/ d’load from website.

Details: Employment News (21 -27 May)/ Website.

— Pervin Malhotra