Global Campaign for Education – more teachers needed
24 April 2006: As part of the Mid-term Strategic Plan and the Millennium Development Goals priorities, UNICEF India is committed to ensuring quality education for all children, especially girls. The current Master Plan of Operations (MPO) in cooperation with the Government of India (2003-2007) supports the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the national plan for the universalization of elementary education, to ensure all children have access to quality education and complete a full course of primary schooling.
1). Achieving EFA depends on having enough teachers
On 21 February, 2005, the Prime Minister of India said that he was pained to note that “only 47 out of 100 children enrolled in class I reach class VIII, putting the dropout rate at 52.79 per cent.” This, he said was “unacceptably high” and attributed the high dropout rate to “lack of adequate facilities, large-scale absenteeism of teachers and inadequate supervision by local authorities.”
19 % of the total primary schools are single teacher schools in India catering to nearly 12% of the total enrolment in primary classes (DISE 2004). Systemic factors - lack of teachers (especially female), teacher absenteeism, irregular classes, overcrowded classrooms, and traditional methods of rote learning – have diminished the quality of teaching/learning and the support teachers and schools can provide children.
Teacher absence is more correlated with daily incentives to attend work: 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. Absence rates are generally higher in low-income states.
To overcome the problem of teacher shortage and teacher absenteeism the para teacher scheme has been introduced in India. Para educators are generally members of the same community in which they teach, and therefore, share many of the experiences and cultural practices of their students, including their primary languages and cultural practices. In India, the state of Rajasthan has successfully overcome the problem of both teacher shortage and teacher absenteeism through these para teachers under the ‘Shiksha Karmi Project’ which is also the origin of para teacher scheme in the country.
With increased involvement of community in management and running of schools, as well as enhanced teacher support and development, it is expected that the issue of absenteeism will be addressed in time to come.
With its partners, UNICEF is developing and demonstrating a replicable model of quality education that can be scaled up. The project is working to demonstrate the Quality Package in a number of schools and its impact on attendance, completion and learning; and to monitor, document and disseminate the costs, processes and impact of delivering the Quality Package.
The key activities for delivering the Quality Package are; (i) delineating quality in four key areas: school and classroom environment, teaching-learning processes, teacher support, school and community linkages; (ii) evaluating each school’s situation to understand and develop plans on how best to reinforce school effectiveness and enhance student learning; (iii) curriculum development, teacher support and training, and strengthening community involvement; and (iv) developing a child-friendly environment by advocating for child-centred teaching-learning processes, creation of a school government and maintaining high hygiene and sanitation and safety standards.
As measurement of progress is very important, the District Information System in Education (DISE), a UNICEF-supported initiative, has emerged as the official computerized database for monitoring key education indicators (gross/net enrolment, school infrastructure, teachers) – covering 539 districts across India in 2005.
In collaboration with the Education Department of the Government of Gujarat, UNICEF has launched a Life Skills programme in three districts of Gujarat, covering about 147 schools. A total number of 243 teachers have been trained. The four day training programme equips the teachers with the ten basic life skills of self awareness, empathy, problem solving, decision making, effective communication, interpersonal relations, creative thinking, critical thinking, coping with emotions and coping with stress. This has already kick-started the process of turning class rooms into child friendly spaces, with no barriers between teachers and students.