Every child needs a teacher

…but in India 1.2 million teachers are lacking, according to the Global Campaign for Education. Another 700 000 are the so called para-teachers, recruited mostly by the community, at less than the regular teacher’ wage to meet the demand for basic education within the limited financial resource available.

In fact India has a ‘right to education’ act that was launched in 2009 and the first deadline was last month. But there is still a long way to go, because without qualified teachers education for all cannot be achieved, says Shigeru Aoyagi, Director UNESCO New Delhi. He also was concerned about the huge number of school dropouts, the pupil teacher ratio, the absenteeism among teachers and the quality of them.

children

The Organisation Pratham found in their latest study ACER (Annual Status of Education Report) that “levels of reading and math at every level were not only poor but declining in many states”. In 2008, the proportion of children in standard 3 who could read a standard 1 text was under 50%, which has dipped about 16 percentage points to nearly 30%, it says. A child in standard 3 has to learn to do two digit subtraction, but the proportion of children in government schools who can even recognize numbers up to 100 correctly has dropped from 70% to near 50% over the last four years.

The real downward turn came when the ‘right to education’ act was introduced – so nowadays there are many more children going to school, but learning less. “It must be acknowledged that there is a national crisis in learning”, the authors of ACER write. And again it is the poor who suffer: Private schools are relatively unaffected by the decline in learning levels. No wonder a common perception in India is that in most government schools, children only get a free meal a day, but no teaching.

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