Swaha Sahoo Published on January 23 2010 ,Page 4

Schools flunk infrastructure test, yet again


Nine years after the ambitious Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), or education for all programme, was launched, school infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired. Teachers and classrooms are in short supply. Drinking water, electricity and toilets continue to be a luxury for primary (Classes I-V) and upper primary (Classes V-VIII) schools, says a government report on elementary education.

About 12,85,576 schools were surveyed for the district information system for education (DISE) 2008-09 report released by the human resource development ministry on Friday. Sixty per cent of the surveyed schools do not have electricity, while 46.4 per cent don't have toilets for girls. DISE's mandate is to maintain the database of schools imparting elementary education (Classes I-VIII). Most of the surveyed schools (80 per cent) are government-run.

Around 120,000 elementary schools are run by one teacher. The shortage is crowding classrooms. At least 166,000 schools have one teacher for 60 pupils. These factors are pushing up the number of out-of-school children in the country.

An independent survey commissioned by the government found 8000,000 children were still out of school in 2009. The Indian Market Research Bureau conducted the survey. The number for 2005 was 1.3 crore. Government officials take a different view. "The percentage of schools having toilets for girls has gone up from 42.58 per cent in 2006-07 to 53.60 per cent. That is a huge increase," said a ministry official, who didn't wish to be identified. But, the change has not reflected in enrolments.

In 2006-07, 48.09 per cent girls were enrolled in primary classes. The figure marginally grew to 48.38 in 2008-09. Schools haven't fared too well on inclusive education. The report shows that only 40 per cent have ramps for the physically impaired. While the Right to Education Act requires not more than 30 students per teacher, in 51,000 primary schools the ratio is 100 or more pupils per teacher.