The future of the country relies on the quality of education offered to the children and the youth. India has the potential to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend, especially as the average age of the population is less than 30. However, in order to make the most of this opportunity, it is important to ensure that the improvement in the quality of education and skilling available for the said population.
Highlighting the state of education in the country, UNESCO has ‘UNESCO 2021 State of the Education Report for India: No Teachers, No Class’ on the occasion of World Teachers Day 2021. This third edition of the State of Education Report, focused on the theme of teachers, teaching and teacher education, underscores that the work of teaching is complex. It attempts to provide an understanding of key aspects of the teaching profession, provides a profile of the 9.6 million teaching workforce, as well as the challenges of their intricate teaching routine and their professional development.
The National Education Policy (NEP), adopted in 2020, acknowledges teachers as crucial elements in the learning process, while stressing the importance of their recruitment, continuous professional development, good work environment and service conditions.
With an in-depth analysis of the current state of teachers in India, highlighting best practices, the UNESCO State of the Education report for India 2021 aims to serve as a reference for enhancing the implementation of the NEP and towards the realization of the SDG.4 target 4c on teachers.
The findings of the report include the following:
Availability of Digital Infrastructure and Internet Connection in Schools in India
The report has said that only about 22 per cent of schools in India have the overall availability of computing devices (desktops or laptops), with rural areas seeing much lower provisioning (18 per cent) than urban areas (43 per cent).
When it comes to internet connectivity, only about 19 per cent of schools across the country have access to it with only 14 per cent in rural areas compared to 42 per cent in urban areas.
The report has said that the total number of teachers in the system grew by 17 per cent from 8.9 million teachers in 2013-14 to 9.4 million in 2018-19. The overall pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) – reflecting the effort of the state to meet the RTE Act teacher-requirement guidelines – changed from 31:1 in 2013-14 to 26:1 in 2018-19.
In the same period, the proportion of teachers employed in the private sector grew from 21 per cent in 2013-14 to 35 per cent in 2018-19. The proportion of private schools with teacher requirements (as per a PTR of 1:35) has gone down by 10 per cent, while that of government schools decreased by 6 per cent.
There are about 1,10,971 single teacher schools that is, 7.15 per cent. About 89 per cent of these single-teacher schools are in rural areas.
“In about 15 years, 27 per cent of the current workforce will need to be replaced. The workforce has a deficit of over 1 million teachers (at current student strength), and is likely to need to grow overall given the shortages of teachers in certain education levels and subjects such as early childhood education, special education, physical education, music, arts, and curricular streams of vocational education,” the report said.
Demography of Teachers
The report has said that overall, there is no gender gap in the teaching community with women consisting 50 per cent of the total available teachers. However, state to state variation in the proportion of women teachers in the workforce is considerable. States and union territories (UTs) where over 70 per cent of teachers are women include several that are ranked high in the Performance Grading Index (PGI). These include Chandigarh (82 per cent), Delhi (74 per cent), Kerala (78 per cent), Punjab (75 per cent) and Tamil Nadu (75 per cent). Other states-UTs with a higher proportion of women teachers are Puducherry (78 per cent) and Goa (80 per cent). Five states have a low proportion of women teachers (40 per cent or less): Assam (39 per cent), Bihar (40 per cent), Jharkhand (39 per cent), Rajasthan (39 per cent) and Tripura (32 per cent).
The data has also suggested that the teaching cadre is generally young, with over 65 per cent of teachers aged less than 44 years. The median age of school teachers is 38, and the average family size is four.