Bring Teachers To School: UP’s Unfilled Vacancies and Its Impact

Bring Teachers To School: UP’s Unfilled Vacancies and Its Impact

Uttar Pradesh has a shortage of 73711 teachers in elementary school i.e. Primary and Upper Primary School. If we include the shortage of both principals and teachers in elementary schools it comes to 126028. These numbers were revealed at the meeting of the Annual Work Plan & Budget (AWP&B) 2021-22 of Samagra Shiksha for Uttar Pradesh, held on 17 June, 2021.

The Right to Education (RTE) Act laid down norms and standards for Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) — 30:1 and 35:1 at primary and upper primary level, respectively. The RTE Act was implemented on 1 April, 2010 and a deadline of three years was set for the compliance of the 10 parameters in the rules. Yet after 11 years of its enactment the implementation continues to remain shoddy.

The District Information System for Education (DISE) data, available for 2016-17, shows that across the country only 12.7% of schools comply to all 10 parameters. Moreover, it also shows that 6.8% of schools were being managed by single teachers. India which is also grappling to improve its girl child education numbers, needs to focus and take extra measures to ensure female teachers in every school. The DISE data shows that even today 27.7% of schools in the country do not have female teachers.

Government schools play a critical role in providing education to the most marginalised children in difficult to reach areas. In almost all government schools and in all classes there are children with multiple levels of understanding. This makes classes multi-level and multi-grade and to deal with such class teacher must be highly skilled and in appropriate number. On the contrary, 18.5% of teachers in country still do not have professional qualification and 4.8 lakhs schools do not have teachers as per the RTE norms.

Teachers are the backbone of our education system. Yet the data on shortage of teachers in the school shows the crying need for the immediate appointment of teachers in government schools.

                                                                       •••

In the last 18 months, when schools were closed, teachers were roped in for Covid duty. In fact, nearly 1621 primary school teachers in Uttar Pradesh died of COVID-19 after being assigned duty in Panchayat polls and control rooms. If teachers were left to just do their job i.e. teach they could have helped a lot more in ensuring that children were not left out due to the digital divide. For instance, they could help run the mohalla classes. Just like Suman Devi.

Suman Devi is the head teacher of the primary school at Kallu ka Purva, an urban hamlet in the Raebareli town area. During COVID-19 when schools were closed, she visited families of students, was in constant touch with them and then engaged youth volunteers to run mohalla classes so that enrolled children did not become out-of-school children. With youth volunteers, she managed to run two mohalla classes in Kallu Ka Purva and Jafar Nagar where around 50-60 children attended regular classes through the pandemic.

Suman Devi has been felicitated by the state on several occasions for her excellent contribution to education. When she took charge in 2012, 95 children were enrolled in the school; today there are 165 students. As pointed out earlier on the importance of female teachers in school, her presence, effort and emphasis on girl child education bore fruit. This despite the fact that there were only two female teachers win the school. She counselled parents to send their daughters to school. Moreover, she also encouraged  girls’ leadership in student collectives in the school.

She focussed on bringing children to school with the help of School Management Committee (SMC) members and engaging with children through re-creational activities such as games and activity-based teaching. She worked on ending discrimination among children and promoted equitable learning environment in the school. She developed teaching learning materials (TLMs) in consultation with teachers and students. She has helped children develop a kitchen garden in the school and with great success. In fact, teachers end up using flowers and the plants as useful TLM!

Teacher Suman Devi, as she is fondly called, has very effectively engaged with the SMCs — they helped decorate the school, construct the boundary wall, and even develop a nice playground for the children.

                                                                       •••

There are many like Suman Devi across the country who are continuously striving to provide better education despite all odds. And this includes the lack of teachers. In Raebareli town area, there are 51 schools and only 68 teachers; there are 37 primary schools which has 32 teachers. Three primary schools are being managed by head teachers of upper primary schools and two schools i.e. primary schools at Munshiganj and Khaspari have no teachers and remain locked.

The appointment of teachers on the vacant posts, providing training to teachers and deploying female teachers in all schools has been a constant demand of the State Collective for Right to Education (SCoRE), UP’s RTE network.

The demand should be met at the earliest in order to improve the literacy rate of the state — the last NSO survey released in 2020 put UP in the fifth position from the bottom at 73% against the national average of 77.7%. The literacy rate among men is 81.8% and among women is 63.4% and this tide must turn. Getting teachers to the school will be the very first step. 

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