Home / Education / News /  India’s school system faces acute shortage of teachers, says Unesco report

India’s school system still lacks enough teachers and struggles from poor student-teacher ratio while up to 69% of its teachers are working without job contracts, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) said in its annual State of the Education Report on Tuesday.

The report, which drew from government data, said while the overall number of teachers (around 9.5 million) looks perfect to maintain a good pupil-teacher ratio, it does not show segmental disparity. For instance, the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) at senior secondary schools is 47:1 as against 26:1 of the overall school system.

“The national PTR average for all schools was 26:1 in 2018/19 (UDISE), and ranged from 23:1 for elementary schools to 28:1 in composite schools. These PTRs look well within the norm suggested by the RTE (Right to Education) Act at the country level, but does not indicate if the PTR is met at the school level. Among primary-only schools, 22% of them have PTRs greater than 30:1. On the whole, secondary and senior secondary schools have PTRs between 43:1 and 47:1," the report said.

Unesco said contractual rather than regular teachers’ jobs “presents further complexity" and the problem is equally alarming in both private and government schools. “The overall proportion of teachers in private schools who report working with no job contract is alarmingly high at 69%," the report said.

“In the government sector, the overall number of school teachers with contracts of more than three years’ duration is a high 67%. However, 28% of primary and secondary school teachers are found to be working with no contract. In the early childhood education sector, only 49% teachers report having contracts of longer duration than three years, while 35% report having no contracts. In the special education sector, only 13% report having contracts of more than 3 years’ duration, and 80% have no contracts," the report showed.

The report comes almost 11 years after the Right to Education Act was passed and will be crucial for academics and policy makers at a time when India is gradually rolling out the new education policy with several structural reforms.

Further, the report revealed that 10% to 15% schools in several states were single-teacher institutions. It also showed that contractualization in teaching jobs is making the situation complex and creating remuneration disparity.

Unesco analysed two data sets: Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE+) 2018-19 round and the Periodic Labour Force Survey 2018-19.

While at the national level, 7% schools are single-teacher schools, the percentage is far higher in several states. For instance, at least 16% of the schools in Goa and Telangana were managed by one teacher in each school. Whereas 14% of the total number of schools in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand were single-teacher school.

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