M A I N   N E W S

Large number of single-teacher schools cause for concern
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, July 13
India is witnessing massive contractualisation of school education, raising serious concerns about the quality of instruction that will be imparted to children who enter the system as a result of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2010. The number of single-teacher schools across the country also remains unacceptably high, making up nearly 10 pc of all elementary level schools that currently exist.

The RTE Act will become fully operational by March 31, 2013, when the deadlines for the creation of school buildings and other infrastructure draw to a close.

The latest government statistics put the number of contractual teachers in elementary schools in India at a whopping 5,38,000, which comes to about 9.44 per cent of the 5.79 million teachers currently engaged for school education. About 71,494 schools have only contractual teachers -- a concern raised by a study commissioned by the HRD Ministry on “Elementary Education in India: Where do we stand?”. The study states, “Quite a good number of schools are left to contractual teachers to manage affairs. Studies should be initiated to review the functioning of all such schools.”

Among areas of topmost priority for the government, the report also lists the existence of several single-teacher schools with even the prosperous north not escaping the trend. The report states, “A good number of schools are single-teacher schools despite the availability of an average of four teachers per school, all of which need serious intervention. Rationalisation of teachers is the only solution.”

So far as single-teacher schools are concerned, almost all states and UTs with the exception of Chandigarh, Delhi and Lakshadweep, have both single classroom schools and single-teacher schools.

Among the northern states, the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is the worst and it has failed to manage any improvement in recent years. The state witnessed an increase in the number of single-classroom schools from 9.1 per cent to 17 per cent (from 2007-08 to 2008-09); single-teacher schools also shot up from 4.3 to 12.7 per cent in the same period.

In Himachal, the number of single-teacher schools increased from 7.3 to 9.5 per cent from 2008 to 2009; in Punjab, the number decreased from 8.1 to 5.5 per cent over the same period.

In West Bengal, single-teacher schools comprise 4.1 per cent of all schools as, while in Haryana the situation is a shade better. The percentage of such schools in its jurisdiction has decreased from 3.4 to 3.1 between 2008 and 2009. In Rajasthan, there were 21.7 per cent single-teacher schools in 2008; the percentage now is 16.3.

Overall, India has four teachers per elementary level school up to Class VIII, and three teachers per primary school. According to HRD Ministry’s school statistics, India has 12,85,576 schools imparting elementary education; 87.3 per cent of these schools are in rural areas.





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