New Delhi: The government could offer housing and insurance benefits to deal with an acute shortage of schoolteachers that is hobbling its goal to educate all children in the country aged between six and 14 years.
“The ministry is now planning to put in place an insurance and housing scheme for schoolteachers,” an official at the human resource development (HRD) ministry said on condition of anonymity. “It will be rolled out through partnership with state governments and private players.”
The scheme is expected to make teaching a more attractive profession and bring in fresh talent. Schoolteachers are poorly paid in India, particularly in state-run schools.
The country has some 700,000 trained schoolteachers, but needs another 500,000 to educate the 8.1 million children of school-going age who are outside the formal education system, according to the ministry.
HRD minister Kapil Sibal held a meeting with officials of the HRD and the finance ministry on Thursday to discuss the scheme, another official said.
While housing benefits may take longer, the offer of health insurance cover to teachers could come soon, followed by a life insurance cover as well, the second official added.
The HRD ministry is yet to outlay a budget for the scheme, but it will have to be substantial.
A third official said even if the government paid a premium of Rs2,000 for one teacher, the total cost would be around Rs140 crore per year for now. And this would increase as more teachers join the profession. “It’s a great idea but states need to chip in,” the official added.
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, which promises compulsory education for all children aged 6-14, has a fund-sharing pattern of 55:45 between the Centre and the states. The government is also thinking of increasing the Centre’s share to 65%, Mint reported on 26 May.
Another ministry official said the housing scheme will be a public-private partnership. Educational Consultants India Ltd, a public sector enterprise under the ministry, has given a presentation to ministry officials on the scheme, the bureaucrat said.
“We know the RTE Act has a great challenge in the form of shortage of teachers. This effort, we hope, will be a step in the positive direction to boost education in the country,” another official in the ministry said.