NEW DELHI: A
study by the National University of Educational Planning &
Administration (UNEPA) has found that about half the 47 lakh
elementary school teachers in India have themselves not studied
beyond the higher secondary level (Class XII).
While the educational level of
teachers is not by itself a complete indicator of the state of
educational facilities, the findings of the study should come as a
sobering thought for educationists.
Just about one-third, or 35% to be
precise, of all those who teach Classes I to VIII in the country
are graduates and another 17% are postgraduates and above. But
that leaves 45% who have never been beyond school level.
This national picture appears
unfortunate, till you start looking at different states separately
and get a shock.
Currently in the midst of an
election campaign where one of the big propaganda issues is
development, Gujarat has over 2 lakh elementary school teachers.
Three-fourths of them have not
studied beyond the higher secondary stage. In fact, over 55% of
the teachers have not got beyond the secondary stage of schooling.
Graduates account for just under 15% and postgraduates a mere 5.8%
of the state's teachers.
Perhaps, these teachers have been
provided some kind of in-service training, to make them skilled
enough to teach children? The NUEPA study shows that while at the
all-India level, about 38% of male teachers and 44% of female
teachers received such training, in Gujarat 60% of male teachers
and only 16% of female teachers got this opportunity. This grossly
low figure for training of women teachers in Gujarat expresses an
exceptional situation in the state, since in most other states,
more women teachers are getting training than men.
While there is no direct one-to-one
relationship between teachers' qualification and the quality of
learning by children, there is undoubtedly some link.
In the case of Gujarat, this link is
brought to light by two facts. One is that while total enrolment
in Classes I to IV was over 45 lakh, it falls to just 26 lakh by
Classes V to VII — that's a drop of over 42%. There is something
rotten and the children are saying it with their feet.
Another indicator is provided by
Pratham's Annual Survey of Education (Rural) for 2006. Over 37% of
children in Classes III to V in Gujarat could not do subtraction
or more, and 33% of them could not read the Class I book. In fact,
the survey says that the number of out-of-school children in
Gujarat has increased from 3.4% in 2005 to 5.6% in 2006.
You might think that if an advanced
state like Gujarat with a high per capita income, high levels of
industry, and so on can be so negligent towards its children,
surely other states must also be in the same league, if not worse.
But that's not true.
The only state which comes near
Gujarat in terms of the low quality of teachers is Karnataka, with
about three-fourths of its teachers having studied only up to the
higher secondary level. However, it is still better off than
Gujarat, because only about a third of its teachers are up to
secondary level or below, while over 55% of Gujarat's teachers are
at these levels.
Among the bigger states, Tamil Nadu
has the best record with almost 58% of its elementary school
teachers being graduates or more highly qualified. In Maharashtra,
which has similar levels of industrialization as neighbouring
Gujarat, about 58% of teachers have studied only up to higher
secondary levels, but over a third of the teachers are graduates,
unlike Gujarat's 15%.
In case you think the BIMARU states
must be doing really badly, think again. In Bihar, only about 21%
of teachers are secondary level or below. In UP, the corresponding
figure is even lower at 12.8%.
It seems clear that Gujarat stands
alone in terms of the low levels of educational qualifications of
its elementary school teachers.