Monday, November 17, 2008

State of elementary education in India: 100 students to a class, 67 to a teacher

Anubhuti Vishnoi
Posted online: Oct 18, 2008 at 0120 hrs

New Delhi, October 17 : In yet another proof of the poor state of elementary education in India, latest data shows that school rooms in many states have as many as 100 students to a class, with a single teacher in-charge of 67 or more.
The District Information System for Education (DISE) data on elementary education in India, compiled by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), reveals that Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh have one of the highest Student Classroom Ratios (SCRs).

In case of primary schools, Bihar, Jharkhand and UP have SCRs as high as 92, 79 and 53 respectively. The 2006-07 NUEPA report says Assam at 45 students per classroom, Madhya Pradesh at 43 and West Bengal at 50 are also on the higher side. As many as 16.45 per cent schools have SCR of 60 and above.

“These states should look into the matter without delay. Otherwise it would be difficult to retain children in school and may also be difficult for a teacher to handle all the children,” says the report, which lauds Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir for their ratios of 15 and 14, respectively.

A higher SCR has been observed in primary schools, and has been termed as needing “immediate intervention” by the NUEPA report.

Bihar scores low on another count as well — the number of female teachers, a priority under Operation Blackboard. Bihar (27.65 per cent), West Bengal (28.31 per cent), Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Tripura have the least number of female teachers, while Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Punjab have over 60 per cent female teachers. Bihar and Jharkand also stand at the bottom of the Educational Development Index (EDI).

Another key indicator that influences classroom transaction is the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR), and there too the same set of states is at the end of the tally. Against a comfortable average of 40:1, Bihar has a ratio of 67:1 in government schools. Interestingly, the case is even worse in privately managed schools, with the ratio standing at 71:1 in aided schools and 67:1 in non-aided schools.

Uttar Pradesh is no better, with a PTR as high as 55:1. As many as 12 per cent primary schools in UP have a PTR of 100, against just 0.02 per cent such schools in Kerala. However, overall the country has shown an improvement in PTR, with the ratio dropping from 36 to 34 per from 2005-06 to 2006-07. States like Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Delhi reported ideal PTRs, ranging from 16 to 25.

The data on teacher qualification shows up more shocking details.

“The qualification of a good number of teachers (2.92 per cent) is below Secondary level,” says the report. As many as 44.71 per cent teachers who impart elementary education in the country are Higher Secondary and below. While in many states the minimum qualification prescribed is Secondary, a few teachers are even below this level. Just over half (54 per cent) teachers across schools in rural and urban areas are graduates and post-graduates, with the number higher in urban areas.

However, amidst all the red marks in the NUEPA report card, there is good news as well. There is a definite improvement in school infrastructure in the country, and enrolment is also increasing gradually. The move towards modern education is also discernible, with 13 per cent, or over 1.6 lakh schools, with computers now. Maharashtra leads the tally. Only 7.6 per cent schools had computers in 2003-04. More schools have kitchen sheds, ramps, drinking water facilities and toilets.

The NUEPA report has for the first time also compiled data on Muslim children and it shows that while enrolment from the community is 9.39 per cent at the primary level, it drops to 7.52 per cent at upper primary level. The NUEPA hopes to expand this exercise and have more details next year on.

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