NEW DELHI: Although it has the largest population of children in India yet least teachers per student. A fourth of Uttar Pradesh’s 200 million people are aged between five and 14 years – India’s largest child population – but the state has the fewest teachers per student, the poorest transition rate from primary to upper primary school and amongst the lowest learning outcomes in the country. Literacy rates and learning outcomes are some of the lowest in the BIMARU (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) states. By 2020, India will have the world’s largest working-age population – 869 million –yet India is unprepared to educate and train its young population.
Lowest student-teacher ratio:
Uttar Pradesh’s literacy rate of 69.72% is the eighth-lowest in India, varying from 49% in the Shrawasti to 85% in the best performing district, Ghaziabad. It also has worst pupil-teacher ratio in India, with a teacher for every 39 students at the primary level, according to the Unified-District Information System for Education Flash Statistics 2015-16. The all-India average is 23:1. At 30 students per teacher – as prescribed by the Right to Education Act – at the primary level, the state should have 8,40,000 teachers but is short by 21%, or 1,76,000, according to an analysis by IndiaSpend. About 23% of all elementary teacher posts in government schools in Uttar Pradesh are vacant, according to an answer given in the Lok Sabha. Uttar Pradesh also reported the second- highest teacher absenteeism (31%) in rural public schools among 19 surveyed states in 2010, according to the 2014 IndiaSpend analysis.
High spending on education: Low learning outcomes
In 2014-15, Uttar Pradesh spent 13,102 INR per elementary school student, including both primary school students (Class 1 to Class 5) and upper primary school students (Class 6 to Class 8), higher than the all-India spending of 11,252 INR per student. Similarly, state expenditure on primary education has gone up 47% between 2011 and 2015, according to the state government’s Economic Survey 2014-15, but learning level remains among the lowest in India
.Although the proportion of children in Class 3 who can read at least a Class 1 text has improved from 31% in 2006 to 35% in 2014 but this increase has mainly been in private schools. In government schools, the proportion of class 3 rd student who can read at least class 1 text has been reduced from 24% in 2006 to 13% in 2010 (ASER,2014).
These findings have also been supported by our team visit to the Hindi medium primary schools in Bahraich district under Abhigya Foundation. We visited at least 30 schools in the district and in the most of the schools the findings were nearly the same. We found that at arithmetic level a 3 rd class student cannot read properly a 2 digit number while only the 50% students in the 5 th class were able to do the division and subtraction of 2 digit number correctly. The percentage of students who can read the English text is even worse. The 3 rd class student cannot read the English text of 1 st class properly. Only satisfactory state is of Hindi text reading where almost 70-85% students were able to read the text fully. (Abhigya Foundation, Findings July-September, 2018).
Seasonal absenteeism: still a big issue
When our team visited the schools in the Bahraich dist., it was rainy season and also the time of sowing of paddy. So many of the children were not present in their class as they were helping their family in the field. On an average only 40-50% were present in the class and after midday meal, some of the children went back to their home (Abhigya Foundation).Only few attend school regularly. More children are at work in UP than in any other state, according to the calculation by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, based on Census 2011 data: 6,24,000 children, or 8.4% of the 5-14 age group. With the country going to poll in 2019, these issues should concern all
the political parties as the demographic dividend of the country will be highest in 2030. The need of the hour is to utilise it and to know how to reap the benefit by capturing the energy and potential of the younger generation. This
can be ensured by providing the quality education at the primary stage because if the foundation will be strong, the building will be strong too.