Curbing teacher absenteeism
S. Kumar
Better infrastructure ensures a lower rate of teacher absenteeism
HE main purpose of education is to build up an environment at home and school, which is conducive to stimulating learning. The Operation Blackboard was the first serious effort made in this direction in 1987-88 followed by the District Primary Education Programme, Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan.

Better infrastructure ensures a lower rate of teacher absenteeism

British primary schools to ban calculator use
RIMARY schools in Britain will ban the use of calculators by 11-year-old students in a bid to prevent the kids from becoming maths dunces, according to the government.

Campus Notes



Curbing teacher absenteeism
S. Kumar

THE main purpose of education is to build up an environment at home and school, which is conducive to stimulating learning. The Operation Blackboard was the first serious effort made in this direction in 1987-88 followed by the District Primary Education Programme, Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan. The main objective has been to accelerate the accessibility of education and also to provide quality education. But the results could not bet in consummarate with the efforts so made. Nevertheless there has been increase in student enrolment, mainly due to special incentives and opening of more school under different progammes. But the increase in enrolment is not sufficient. It should be matched with adequate supply of good teachers who can be effective in the teaching-learning process in different manifestations.

India, it is said, still needs 1.2 million teachers. The situation in states like Haryana and Punjab is also not a happy one. The supply of teachers is all the more essential in order to keep a balance in the pupil-teacher ratio as laid down in the Right to Education Act, 2009. There is also a mismatch between certain parameters pertaining to teachers and students. This situation has resulted in an adverse composite educational development index that necessitates a study of teachers and their compatibility in ensuring the educational outcomes of a higher order.

According to a World Bank-Harvard University study, in India “with one in four government primary school teachers absent on any given day, and only one in two teaching, India is wasting much of its budget for education”. It is found in the study that India is among the countries with the highest average absence rates of teachers. India has about 25 per cent absence rate of teachers, with Punjab having the absence rate of 34.4 per cent.

This, in fact, is the major malady that needs to be adequately addressed, especially in case of government-managed schools, where the teachers are relatively more qualified and get higher salaries in comparison to private schools. Even the teachers who are present can’t take classes for various reasons. The reasons for this high-pitched absence rate are varied and many. Non-teaching duties take the high toll of absence rate of teachers. It is not only due to their national duties as stated in Section 21 of the RTE but also clerical jobs of varied nature affecting the classroom teaching. Then, a host of admissible leave and other officially sanctioned duties help in raising the absence rate. It appears that internal factors are more responsible for teacher absenteeism than the external factors.

Although hardly any study has been conducted about the categories of absence of teachers at the state level, it is revealed that in India the categories of absence of teachers is 30.2 per cent in case of Heads, 22.2 per cent in case of second-in-command and 23.1 per cent in respect of regular teachers and 24 per cent in case of contract teachers. It seems that there is a positive co-relation between the Heads and their absenteeism. Similar is the case with contract teachers who bear less accountability mainly due to political interference. It is also noticed that higher salaries and higher qualifications have hardly any relevance with the teacher absence rate.

However, it is interestingly revealed that better infrastructure and frequent inspections in school ensure a lower rate of teacher absenteeism. A less incidence rate of absenteeism is usually found in case of private than the government schools. Close governance and fear of being penalised are the potent factors for reduction in the absence rate. The local community, including frequent meetings of parent-teacher associations, can also play a positive role in reducing absenteeism of teachers. There is, thus, a need for exploring a variety of potential reforms in containing teacher absenteeism. The National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) has been issuing yearly statistical data under the District Information System for Education (DISE). The monitoring cells at different levels need to be more functional in utilising the data.

There is also need to work out macro-level changes in the educational system in view of the new challenges. A teacher, it may be noted, does not work in a vacuum. He is an instrument in the sub-system of society and administration. Therefore, some other administrative measures like proper recruitment and training of good teachers, creating their institutional cadre, training and empowering SMCs, strengthening educational Heads through induction and in-service programmes, a system of frequent inspections and avoiding political interference may also be considered to make the role of the teachers effective in the improvement of educational outcomes.

The writer is a former Deputy Director of Education, Haryana


British primary schools to ban calculator use

PRIMARY schools in Britain will ban the use of calculators by 11-year-old students in a bid to prevent the kids from becoming maths dunces, according to the government.

UK Schools Minister Nick Gibb insisted the crackdown was vital to better the students’ maths skills.

“They shouldn’t be reaching for a gadget every time they need to do a simple sum. Children can become too dependent on calculators,” he was quoted as saying by The Sun.

The move will see a “shake-up” of the maths examination faced by all 11-year-olds. A section that tests students on the use of calculators will be “axed”.

Gibb said calculators were partly to blame for one in five primary students failing to reach the expected level in maths in 2011.

“Without a solid grounding in arithmetic and early maths in primary school, children go on to struggle with basic maths skills throughout their school careers.”

“It also means they leave school without the knowledge to complete everyday tasks in their adult lives,” he said.

Recent government figures say around 17 million adults have maths skills “no better than” children as young as nine. — IANS


Campus Notes

Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar
Music vital part of human beings: VC

A 21-week refresher course in "Visual and Performing Arts" is being organised by the Music Department in collaboration with the Academic Staff College of the university. The refresher course was inaugurated by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. A. S. Brar. Dr Indrani Chakravarty, former Vice-Chancellor, Indra Kala Sangeet University, Chhatisgarh, was the chief guest on the occasion. Professor Brar while terming the Bani of Gurus as raagas said the music was a vital part of human beings. He appreciated the achievements of the Music Department at youth festivals and said the university would increase seats in the department and provide more incentives to student-artistes. Dr Indrani Chakravarty in her lecture detailed about the journey of the development of music and other arts. She said though the benefit of this art was limited to the elite group with high status, common masses were also enjoying these arts. Meanwhile, a music album of religious music was released on the occasion. The students of the Music Department also recited shabad on the occasion.

Refresher course in social sciences

All social sciences are complimentary to each other and each branch has evolved out of changing circumstances and need of society, expressed eminent historian, Prof. J. S. Grewal, former Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, during a three-week refresher course in “Social sciences” organised at the Academic Staff College of the university. Professor Grewal in his lecture cited example from Western Europe to emphasise that the renaissance earlier and reformation later were basically protest movements. "Though the thinkers of the 18th century talked of mankind, they did not include women in their discourses. "Even Karl Marx did not include women in his thought process," he said.

Guru Nanak’s teachings still relevant: scholars

The teachings and philosophy of Guru Nanak Dev are still relevant in this era of science and technology, which cannot be challenged from any aspect, opined scholars during a seminar on "Life and Personality of Sri Guru Nanak Dev" organised at the Conference Hall of the university recently. The seminar was organised by the Guru Nanak Studies Department to mark the university's 42nd Foundation Day celebrations.

Professor J.S. Grewal, former Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, who presided over the seminar, emphasised that the Bani of Guru Nanak Dev had an immense depth as it never lost its sheen even in the present era of modern science and technology. "I appeal the research scholars to make authentic and meaningful study so that it should not get deviate from its true message", he said. Dr Rattan Singh Jaggi, former Professor, Punjabi University, Patiala, in his keynote address said there was dire need to study the personality of Guru Nanak Dev from the paintings and frescoes. "Several type of sources are lying at different libraries in India and abroad which needed to be utilised properly to understand the exact meaning of Bani of Guru Nanak Dev," he said.

14 students placed

As many as 14 students of Guru Nanak Dev University have been placed through campus placements. Nucleus Software, Noida, a multinational software product company dealing in banking and financial services, has recruited eight students of IT courses. Dr Hardeep Singh, Professor in charge, Placement, said senior officials of Nucleus conducted aptitude and technical tests for the students of IT courses and offered a salary package of Rs 3 lakh per annum. Meanwhile, six students of the batch 2012 of B.Tech (Sugar Technology) of the university were offered jobs by Shree Renuka Sugars Ltd at a salary package of Rs 1.80 lakh per annum. These students will join the company in June 2012 after their final examination. As many as 487 students from various courses of the batch 2012 have been placed in 12 different national and multinational companies so far.

Sanskrit dept wins trophy

The Department of Sanskrit recently won the 'Ganga Devi Memorial Running Trophy' at the All-India Inter-University Sanskrit Debate Competition. Dr Dalbir Singh, Head of the Department, said the debate competition was organised by the Kalidas Samiti, Vikram University, Ujjain. Meanwhile, Deepak Kumar and Ajay Shrama of the Department of Sanskrit won the Jivaji Rao Scindia silver medal and Kalidas Saiti bronze medal, respectively, by holding the second and third positions in the debate competition.
— Contributed by G. S. Paul



Armed Forces

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The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Tharamani, Chennai 600113 (TN)

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