Subodh Verma,TNN

12Dec 2007

Only 21% teachers in Bihar are Class X pass

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.


Times of India, December 12, 2007