M A I N   N E W S

Education Bill spells end of ‘private tuitions’
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 5
The Right to Education Bill 2009, once it receives Presidential assent, will spell the end of private tuition era in India. This is for the first time in the country’s history that school teachers, anywhere, will be barred by law to impart private teaching - a trend that’s routine across India’s rural and urban spectrum, where teachers coach for monetary gains.

But this is now set to end, with the RTE Bill specifying in Clause 28 of Chapter IV dealing with the responsibilities of teachers, that "no teacher shall engage himself/herself in private teaching. The states would have to notify this once the President grants her assent to the Bill, making it a law.

The provision to end private tuitions goes back to July 2006 when the then Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh prohibited through the Model Right to Education Bill teachers of all schools — private unaided, private aided, and government, recognized by the central or state governments or an agency such as a school board - from taking tuitions. The idea was to break the nexus between teachers and coaching institutes, something for which the government even relaxed IIT joint entrance exam.

The idea has stayed on to become part of the RTE Bill passed by Parliament, which has unsettled many in the teaching community, where not every instructor imparts private coaching to make additional income. Some just do so to make both ends meet. "Look at our salaries. They are pathetic. How can you ask teachers not to take tuitions unless you also offer them salaries and incentives that will hold them back," asks a government primary school teacher based in Delhi.

The Bill, ironically, is silent on teachers’ emoluments and perks - something that might impede the end of private tuition norm, considering the Bill does not strictly prescribe punishments for violation though it says school management committees will monitor teachers’ performance.

The government for its part says the trend won’t be allowed and gradually discipline would be built into schools. It mentions empirical evidence on how high student:teacher ratio spurs private coaching trend. The Bill, for the first time, prescribes pupil: teacher ratio to address this issue.

Another point in government’s favour is the finding of a recent report on teachers’ absenteeism (a whopping 25 pc in India) that higher pay is not associated with lower teacher absence at schools. Conducted across 3700 government schools across 22 states and published in the Journal of the European Economic Association, the report finds that older teachers, more educated teachers, and head teachers were paid more but were also more frequently absent; contract teachers were paid much less than regular teachers but had similar absence rates.

It, however, finds that teachers are most likely to attend schools which offer better incentives and environment, like those that have been recently inspected, those with better infrastructure and paved road links.

The RTE, for the first time, addresses these issues of minimum school infrastructure, teaching facilities and teaching equipment. All this, say government officials, will help keep teachers off private tuitions.



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