NEW DELHI: It’s an uncomfortable truth the education sector could have done without. Close to 1.5 lakh of 15 lakh schools in the country are run by a single teacher, a stigma hurting the prospects of over 80 lakh children. Multi-grade teaching, lack of proper attendance of students and teacher absenteeism have severely affected the learning outcome in classes, indicated a recent government-sponsored District Information System of Education report. Classes remain shut if the sole teacher fails to turn up. Almost all of these schools are government-run at the primary level, with the student strength ranging between 50 and 100. Such schools are spread across the country, especially in Chhattisgarh,Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Odisha. If the Right to Education Act was applied effectively, these institutes would have been shut down by now, but no one is bothered.
The minimum requirement of two teachers for every school has conveniently been ignored. The draft National Education Policy presented on May 25 estimates that there is a shortage of more than five lakh teachers at the primary level, but efforts to fill the vacancies or the urgency to do so are not forthcoming.
Experts monitoring the implementation of the Right to Education Act blamed both the Centre and the stategovernments for the high proportion of single teacher schools. Officals in the Ministry of Human Resource Development blamed it on slackness of the local administration to fill the vacancies and ensuring uniform teacherstrength across schools. On the other hand, Ambarish Rai, national convenor of voluntary organisation Right to Education Forum, said states contend that they lack resources to enroll teachers. This notwithstanding the fact that the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan programme has been receiving higher funding since the enactment of the Right to Education Act in 2010.
In this fiscal, it has received `22,500 crore, a 27 per cent increase over the allocation during the last fiscal. Mainuddin is a Class IV student of such a school in Jharkhand. His father Imtiaaz, a small-time retailer, had dreamt of giving good education to his child at the formative stage and get him admitted to a good school later. “With the education he has got, I wonder if he will get admission in any good school,” he said, blaming rampant absenteeism of the teacher and poor teaching for the lack of Mainuddin s academic development.