New Delhi: Citing teacher absenteeism as one of the reasons for low quality primary education, the Economic Survey on Tuesday suggested biometric attendance system that would be monitored by local communities and parents.

The pre-Budget document tabled in Parliament by finance minister Arun Jaitley said an important concern that is often raised in the context of school education is low learning outcomes.

Although there have been improvements in access and retention, the learning outcome for a majority of children is still a cause of serious concern, it said.

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“Some of the underlying causes contributing to low quality of education in the primary sector are teacher absenteeism and the shortage of professionally qualified teachers," the Survey said.

Suggesting measures to tackle the problem, it said: “An option to address teacher absenteeism that can be explored is biometric attendance of all teachers in primary schools for each scheduled class/lecture/session/distinct from the present system, where it is morning and evening to ostensibly record arrival and departures with little control on the activities during the working hours.

“A pilot project in one district of every State may be commenced for six months to be expanded to all districts in three years," it added.

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“Apart from the biometric attendance being regularly monitored by local communities and parents, it should also be put in public domain. This should be backed by adequate teaching aids, recorded lectures, etc. to fill in for absentee teachers," the survey said.

It, however, added that the scope of implementation should leave room for flexibility at the local level so the same do not end up as top driven ‘Model Schools’.

“The pilot of biometric attendance of teachers should be accompanied with an evaluation of learning outcomes," it added.

The Economic Survey lamented that despite increase in spending on Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) budget over the years from 35% in 2011-12 to 59% in 2014-15, “teacher absenteeism and the shortage of professionally qualified teachers remain an issue to be addressed".

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