Bunking Teachers Leave a Hole in Government's Pocket

The study says that teacher absenteeism in rural schools is costing the government $1.5 billion annually

Published: 13th March 2016 05:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th March 2016 11:33 AM   |  A+A-


NEW DELHI:  In the last decade, the spending on education sector may have gone up significantly, but a recent World Bank study has made a startling revelation. Teachers in rural schools don’t turn up for work. 

The study says that teacher absenteeism in rural schools is costing the government $1.5 billion annually, representing 60 per cent of the entire revenue collected from the education cess used to fund the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan programme.

Teachers’ salaries typically account for over 80 per cent of non-capital education expenditure and are the most expensive component of the Right to Education (RTE) Act in India—a commitment to reduce student-teacher ratios from 40:1 to 30:1, at a cost of an additional $5 billion a year.

The study covered over 1,200 villages, with the data collected seven years apart—in 2003 and 2010. After analysing the situation, the report was released earlier this month.

Nearly 23.6% of teachers don’t turn up at schools

Teacher absenteeism in rural areas is costing the government $1.5 bn annually—60% of the revenue collected from the education cess

Salaries of teachers account for over 80% of non-capital education

expenditure and are the most expensive component of the RTE Act

There may have been appreciable improvement in school infrastructure (with provisions of toilets, electricity), but the teacher absenteeism rate continues to be high. The surprise inspections to rural schools across the country found out that nearly 23.6 per cent teachers don’t turn up for their duties.

The report also underlined that better and effective monitoring is the only way of resolving the issue. The study said absent rates were 6.5 per cent lower in the villages where the inspections were made regularly. “We calculate that the fiscal cost of teacher absence is over $1.5 billion per year, and estimate that investing in improved governance by increasing the frequency of monitoring would be over 10 times more cost effective at increasing student-teacher contact time than doing so by hiring additional teachers,” the report underscores. The agency is actively supporting states such as Bihar to improve quality of education.

It suggested expanding the existing system of administrative monitoring of teachers and schools by hiring more “supervisory state”. It says the number of teachers having college degrees has increased by 41 per cent, and the fraction of teachers not paid on time has also gone down from 51 to 22 per cent. The frequency of school inspections and parent-teacher association (PTA) meetings also increased significantly in the last one decade.

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