World Teachers Day was celebrated on 5 October, and on this occasion, UNESCO released its 2021 State of Education Report for India: No Teacher No Class. The findings of these reports are largely based on Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) and the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) data (2018–19).
This report aims to serve as a reference for enhancing the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020, and towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 4C on teachers.
Target 4C says that by 2030 there should be a substantial increase in the number of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teachers training in developing countries, especially the small island developing states in the least developed countries.
This report comes out with some mindboggling facts and figures which shows the vulnerability and lack of access to education. The report finds that the lack of teachers in schools is one of the major issues faced by the Indian education system. For instance, there are 1.2 Lakh single teacher schools in the country, of which almost 89% are from rural areas.
The report dictates that India needs 11.16L additional teachers to meet the current shortfall. The most number of teacher’s vacancies are from UP (3.3L) which is then followed by Bihar (2.2L) and Bengal (1.1L). Out of these 11 lakh teaching posts in the country, 69% are from rural areas. There are approximately 21,000 single teacher schools in MP, which is the highest in our country by any state.
Some sort of gender bias is also seen here. Tripura has the least number of woman teachers, followed by Assam, Jharkhand and Rajasthan. But on the other hand, Chandigarh tops the list, followed by Goa, Delhi and Kerala. The proportion of the teachers employed in the private sector grew from 21% in 2013–14 to 35% in 2018–19.
Former education minister Prakash Javadekar said in the India conference at Harvard that they provided 3D printers from class 6 in government schools. Moreover, students were also studying robotics. But the reality is often disappointing.
This report marks out that the overall ability of the computing devices, including both desktops or laptops in schools, is 22%, with rural areas seeing much lower provisions (18%) compared to urban areas(43%). Also, access to the Internet in schools is 19%, only 14% in rural areas compared to 42% in urban areas.
This report also indicates the increment in the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER), the number of students enrolled in a given level of education regardless of their age expressed as a percentage of the official school-age population corresponding to the same level of education. For elementary schools, it has increased from 81.6 in 2001 to 93.03 in 2018–19 and stands at 102.1 in 2019–2020.
The data suggests an alarming shortage of teachers in our country. There are almost 1.1L schools with just one teacher. So what kind of education will students get and how are they going to compete in the real world? Ironically at a time when unemployment is exponentially high, lakhs of teacher’s vacancies remain unfulfilled.
After all, as Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” The government also needs to focus more sincerely on education.