Poor learning levels at school is the biggest concern of the Indian school education system, with poor learning outcomes exacerbated by the learning crisis. To improve learning outcomes, the role of teachers is pivotal.
However, a shortage of adequately qualified and trained teachers remains a significant challenge for the country’s public education system. Currently, there are 9.5 million teachers in India to teach 250 million students ( UDISE+, 2021-22). This implies, on an average, one teacher for 26 students. Thus, apparently India meets the Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) norm of 30:1 as recommended in the National Education Policy 2020.
However, the distribution of teachers across schools is not even. In 73 per cent schools there are the required number of teachers, while around 27 per cent schools do not satisfy the PTR norm ( UDISE, 2017-18).
Moreover, around 7 per cent of Indian schools have only one teacher ( UDISE+, 2021-22). The majority of these schools are situated in rural India. According to the Ministry of Education, during 2021-22, against 6.3 million approved posts in school education, 5.3 million teachers are in position, i.e, 16 per cent of teacher posts are vacant in India.
There are challenges related to existing teachers also in terms of their nature of appointment, professional qualifications and salaries.
Around 85.5 per cent of teachers in India are employed on permanent contracts and 14.5 per cent are on short-term contracts, of which 1.4 per cent are engaged on a part time basis ( UDISE, 2017-18).
Around 11 per cent of teachers at the primary level and upper primary level are without the requisite training ( UDISE, 2017-18). It is important to note here that the Right to Education Act 2009 set the timeline for all teachers to pass the teachers’ training test by March, 2019.
One of the reasons for this outcome is underfunding for teacher recruitment and teacher education. For too long, sub -national governments have been fulfilling their needs through the appointment of contract teachers, with or without the required professional qualifications and on a low salary. Thus, to improve the educational status of school education, it is imperative to invest in teachers. This requires substantial budgetary allocation for the sector.
At present, the government (national and sub-national governments together) allocates 4.6 per cent of the country’s GDP on education across all levels and around 3 per cent on school education ( Ministry of Education, 2022). As a signatory of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, India is committed to achieve the goal of Quality Education For All (Goal 4). As the agenda has reached the half-way mark, India needs to accelerate its progress to achieve the targets.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any official policies or positions of Education International.