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HindustanTimes Sat,25 Oct 2014

State of education: Untrained, underpaid teachers, students with declining learning ability

Chetan Chauhan , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 05, 2013
First Published: 01:54 IST(5/9/2013) | Last Updated: 12:14 IST(5/9/2013)
On Teacher’s Day on Thursday, the status of education 2012 report brought out by an NGO paints a sorry picture of India’s education system. Sample these: 53% of Class 5 students were unable to read Class 2-level text while 47% of Class 5 children could not solve simple two-digit subtraction problems. Ironically, 2012 was declared as the year of mathematics in India.
 
India is counted among the world’s biggest public-funded school education systems and has around 5.8 million teachers in 1.3 million schools. However, only 75% of the teachers are trained, a drastic fall from 2008 when the figure stood at 90%.
 
The study holds this lack of training responsible to a large extent for the falling levels of learning among students.  
 
“There are 8.1 lakh untrained teachers in the country, with four states -- Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal -- accounting for 72% of them,” a planning commission report on the 12th five year-plan said.
This number does not include a large number of ad-hoc teachers who are virtually running primary schools in many of these states.
 
Around 40% teachers in primary schools in educationally-backward states such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and UP have been appointed on temporary basis. Many of them have studied till higher secondary and draw a paltry salary of about R5,000 to R7,000 per month. 
 
On an average, three teachers are in-charge of five classes at the primary level as against the Right to Education norm of at least one teacher per class. Around 10% of schools with more than 150 students have just one teacher for everything – administration, teaching and ensuring healthy mid-day meals.
 
“A highly motivated and skilled teacher can bring a lot of difference to the life of a child. Education is not only about text books but also about a child’s ability to think and innovate,” said Madhav Chavan, chairman of the NGO, Pratham.
 
To improve education standards, experts said the government should consider senior secondary schools as training grounds for primary school teachers and skill upgradation. Teachers’ skill set needs to be tested regularly and students should participate in teachers’ performance appraisals. Higher salaries and permanent jobs should be used as motivational tools.
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