Government schools in most states of the country are plagued by umpteen issues, stemming from neglect in some cases to implemental glitches in others. Besides poor infrastructure, issues like shortage of teachers and teacher absenteeism haunt a part of our younger generation which can’t afford to get admitted to private schools and places its last hope of getting educated in the government-run schools. Government schools in Karnataka are under-staffed and the state government is now hiring guest teachers to combat the acute shortage of teachers.
Why is there an acute shortage of teachers?
When the state government of Karnataka is questioned as to why the government-run schools in the state are understaffed, their response has either been that there are not many eligible teachers or that there are too few students for new teachers to be appointed. For individuals to be appointed as teachers in government-run schools in Karnataka, they will have to clear Kar-TET ( Karnataka Teacher Eligibility Test). As per a report, out of 2.97 lakh applicants of Kar-TET in 2016, only 9,963 cleared it.
“Though there are enough eligible teachers, the government is not appointing them to schools and is hiding behind the excuse of low student count. We have been constantly pressurising the government to appoint more teachers to government schools, for the schools are in dire need of subject-wise trained teachers. Currently, a lot of teachers are compelled to teach multiple subjects,” told Reshma of ActionAid India to The Logical Indian. “On the flip side, our state government is taking progressive steps by introducing ‘public schools’, which have classes from LKG till class 12 in the same campuses, which might play a pivotal role in cutting down the number of drop-outs. These schools also have English as the medium of instruction,” added Reshma. Reshma believes that if schools have better infrastructure and hygiene, that would attract more students. This, in turn, will attract more aspiring teachers to attempt Kar-TET, thereby improving the chances of having more eligible teachers. She also hopes that the ‘public schools’ introduced by the state government of Karnataka in the 2019-20 budget will boost both the student-count and the number of teachers in the government-run schools. Infrastructure and hygiene do play a role in not just effective-learning but also in increasing the attendance of teachers and students. A World Bank study suggests teachers are less likely to be absent at schools that have been inspected recently, that have better infrastructure, and that are closer to a paved road.
How teacher-absenteeism is rubbing salt into the wound
A study led by Karthik Muralidharan of University of California, San Diego, puts forth a startling fact: “We estimate that the fiscal cost of teacher absence in India is around $1.5 billion per year”. The same study also suggests, “investing in better governance by hiring more inspectors to increase the frequency of monitoring could be over ten times more cost effective at increasing teacher-student contact time (net of teacher absence) than hiring more teachers.”
A World Bank Study states that during its unannounced visits to schools, it found 25% of the teachers absent and of those present, only half were teaching.
Why are only Govt-run schools on the receiving end?
The state government claims to have been abiding by the norms and appointing only eligible teachers (those who have cleared Kar-TET). While the private schools are recruiting teachers even if they have not attempted Kar-TET. The private schools claim that it is the only way they can have enough teachers and thereby is inevitable.
The Logical Indian Take
We deeply hope that Karnataka Government’s new initiative, ‘Public Schools’, which promises better infrastructure and hygiene proves to be an antidote to most, if not all issues crippling our government schools.
The state government can also provide training to all the teacher-aspirants attempting Kar-TET to better the number of individuals clearing the exam and taking up teaching in government-run schools.