Take the load off teachers

Author Published: 31st Dec 2016   2:00 am Updated: 30th Dec 2016   10:07 pm

Despite tall claims of commitment and spending huge funds by the successive governments in the past, the condition of government schools remains pathetic. A plethora of problems, ranging from poor infrastructure to sub-standard quality of teaching and persistent drop-out rate, continue to plague the education sector. The Deputy Chief Minister Kadiyam Srihari’s call to MLCs to contribute from their Constituency Development Fund (CDF) for improvement of basic amenities in government schools is laudable. However, the crux of the problem lies in the lopsided management of human resources in schools which has a direct bearing on the quality of teaching.
There is an urgent need to address grievances of teachers who form the lifeline of the education sector and whose commitment to their core job becomes critical for improving the standards. At present, teachers are burdened with a range of non-teaching duties, including maintenance of records, supervising mid-day meal programme, election-related duties and surveys. Besides, they are held accountable for drop-outs and are required to meet parents periodically to convince them to continue sending their wards to school. The quality of teaching in government schools cannot be enhanced unless the teachers are taken off the burden of non-teaching duties that consume much of their time and energy. Already, there is acute shortage of teaching staff in schools.

The non-teaching responsibilities would impose additional burden and distract them from their core task, thereby adversely affecting the quality of teaching. Though the prescribed norm for the teacher-student ratio is 1:35, as many as 5,046 schools in Telangana have single teachers, while 9,142 schools have just two teachers. There is an increasing trend among parents, even in rural areas, to send their children to private schools despite exorbitant fee. While the Telangana government’s recent initiatives like introducing digital classroom programme in 3,352 government high schools and mapping of infrastructure availability for targeted spending are commendable, adequate focus should also be laid on creating an enabling environment for teachers to work to their full potential. If the burden of non-teaching duties is offloaded from their shoulders, they can focus on innovative teaching methods, on a par with their corporate counterparts, to inculcate inquisitiveness among students. The quality of teaching is paramount to check migration of students to private schools. According to the Education Report 2015-16, there is zero enrolment in 398 primary schools, four upper primary schools and three high schools in the State. About 980 primary schools, 10 upper primary schools, and two high schools have enrolment between 1 and 10. A majority of the schools are functioning without a full-time headmaster. The situation has to be corrected through concerted efforts focusing on human resource development. The voice of teachers, who form the bedrock of the education sector, needs to be heard.