Despite giving 50% reservation to women in appointment as school teachers, Bihar still has a long way to go to overcome gender disparities in teachers' profile. Even at the primary and upper primary stage, men continue to dominate despite the fact that women are considered better at nurturing children at a tender age.
According to the latest statistics released by the District Information System for Education (DISE) (2010-11) of the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), Bihar still has just 38.53% female teachers in schools, well below the national average of 44.83%. But this phenomenon is not confined to Bihar alone, though it is certainly more pronounced in the Hindi belt.
Apart from Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan also have adverse gender ratio and less than the national average when it comes to female teachers. In Jharkhand, it comes to just 29.22%.
Contrary to this, states like Goa, Chandigarh, Delhi and Kerala have higher number of female teachers, with Chandigarh having the highest at 82.7%. Kerala has 74.05% female teachers. But these are states, where the number of female teachers have been high for years.
In Bihar, the gender disparity is more adverse in case of regular teachers. Though the government has decided as a matter of principle to abolish regular posts of teachers with their retirement and instead go in for fixed-pay teachers, a sizeable number of regular teachers still remain. What is significant is that the gender disparity increases from primary schools to upper primary or secondary or high schools. With impetus now on induction of female teachers, the situation is likely to improve, but it could take time. "Earlier, female literacy as well as enrollment was not high in the state. Now, the trend has shown marked improvement, but the disparity cannot go in one stroke," said an official.
Another trend, which is disturbing, is the fall in the number of professionally trained regular teachers, which has dropped from 85.27% in 2009-10 to 82.78% in 2010-11. With the posts of regular teachers being abolished every year, induction of untrained teachers and lack of on-job training facility, quality of education is likely to take a further knock in the coming years.
Compared to this, the percentage of professionally trained teachers is gradually on the rise. "This is a strange situation. On the one hand, there is right to education; while on the other, the quality of teachers in government schools, where bulk of the students study, is going down. This is not happening in Bihar only. It is an irrefutable fact, that nothing can replace a qualified teacher - neither state-of-the-art infrastructure nor modern technology," said a NUEPA official.
He said , appointing unqualified persons as a teacher was a double whammy. "While they are not competent to teach, the governments initially have the consolation of paying them less. But later, these teachers also fight their way to higher salary, which many of them don't deserve. It is, therefore, always advisable to go in for qualified teachers, for bad teachers invariably cost much more," he added