Despite its attempts to universalise education with the Right to Education (RTE), new data shows that India’s schools still fall short of 5.86 lakh primary-level teachers and 3.5 lakh upper primary level teachers.
The universalisation of elementary education — that leads to a better trained work force and aware citizenry and also bolsters a nation’s score in the human development index, which has literacy as a criterion — is a goal of state policy.
Smriti Irani, human resource development minister, shared this data for all 35 states and union territories with the Lok Sabha a few days back in response to a question regarding teacher vacancies.
The state-wise break-up of the data shows that two of India’s most populous and backward states — UP and Bihar — account for a large proportion of the shortfall.
UP alone is short of 2.52 lakh teachers at the primary level and 55,859 teachers at the upper primary level. Bihar has a shortfall of 1.14 lakh and 82,303 at the two levels.
The RTE, that became functional in 2010, also prescribes pupil-teacher ratios.
From classes 1 to 5, there need to be two teachers for up to 60 children, three teachers for up to 61-90 students, four teachers for up to 91-120 children and five for 121-200 children.
For classes 6 to 8 there needs to be one teacher per class. There also needs to be one teacher for every 35 children at this level.