As India celebrates another Teacher's Day on Sunday, it comes as a
reminder of a major challenge that lies ahead - a massive crunch
of teachers, at both the school and university levels that could
hamper the goal of education for all.
Availability of teachers in fact remains the biggest challenge for
institutions as well as the government, which has put in place
educational reforms - at the primary level with the right to
education (RTE) act, and in higher education, with a slew of
Consider the figures: The country lacks over 1.2 million teachers
at the school level, according to human resource development
ministry data. The figure includes 178,000 posts sanctioned for
teachers under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan.
Similarly, more than one third of faculty seats are vacant at
premier central universities and other institutions of similar
"Teachers are the key to the RTE act. We lack trained teachers and
we have to implement the act as well. This is a major challenge,"
a senior official of the HRD ministry told IANS.
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or the
RTE act, passed last year, makes the state responsible for
ensuring the education of all children between six and 14 years of
age. It pegs the teacher student ratio at 1:30.
However, the reality is otherwise. "India has one of the lowest
ratio of teachers, at one teacher per 42 students. But with the
states making constant effort, and the central government
monitoring it should not be an unachievable goal," the official
He also agreed that quality of teachers was the main concern even
if quantity is addressed.
HRD Minister Kapil Sibal has himself admitted that no change in
the ground realty would be possible unless teachers are offered
"It is true that the best minds are not coming to the field of
teaching. Even the HRD minister has said this on a number of
occasions. The ministry has started housing and insurance schemes
for over 60,000 teachers. However, the process will take longer,"
the official admitted.
"Nearly 19 percent of the total primary schools in India are
single teacher schools catering to nearly 12 percent of the total
enrolment in primary classes. Again 16.29 percent schools still do
not have two teachers," he says.
According to census of India figures, while the literacy rate of
the country has reported a sharp increase from 18.39 percent in
1950-51 to 65.38 percent in 2000-2001, one-third of the
population, or nearly 300 million people in the age group seven
years and above are still illiterate and 42 million children in
the age-group 6-14 do not attend school.
According to Unicef, approximately 16.64 percent villages do not
have facilities of primary schooling. There are other problem
areas such as inadequate school infrastructure, non-availability
of teachers in remote rural, hilly and tribal areas, high teacher
absenteeism, large-scale teacher vacancies, and inadequate
allocation of resources on education to meet the expenditure.
Faculty crunch is affecting higher education too, as even premier
institutes are facing the problem.
The Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) and the Indian
Institutes of Management (IIM) are facing a faculty crunch with
nearly one-third of the posts vacant, officials said.
"Around 35 percent posts are vacant in central universities, 25
percent in IIMs, 33.33 percent in the National Institute of
Technology and 35.1 percent in other central education
institutions," an official said.
A concerned government is looking at ways to overcome the crunch.
While states have been allowed to carry on with the present staff
on the condition that their training will be upgraded in tune with
the RTE act, for higher educational institutions, the task has
become more difficult.
"Teaching is not that lucrative, let's admit. And that is the key
point. We have to make it lucrative enough to attract the best
minds," the official added.
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