Saturday, April 08, 2006

Indian teachers playing truant from schools

Andy Mukherjee


When researchers for a study conducted by the World Bank and Harvard University showed up unannounced at Indian primary schools, they found a quarter of the teachers absent and only half of those present were working. More

This World Bank study of teacher absenteeism across Indian Primary schools cited that one in 4 teachers were absent in government run primary schools. India has the 2nd highest average teacher absence rate among the eight countries surveyed, one notch below Uganda. Out of the teachers present only about half were teaching.

The researchers found that absenteeism was high among better-paid teachers who are largely government teachers. Private school teachers in rural areas receive as less as 1/8th of the wages enjoyed by government schoolteachers. Although private school teachers were only slightly less likely to be absent than government school teachers, they were 8 percentage points less likely to be absent than government school teachers in the same village. Since teacher compensation is not affected by low attendance, the daily costs and benefits of attending school were cited as having a much larger influence on absence rates. These include, infrastructure and inspections. Therefore, better infrastructure provides a stronger incentive for teachers to attend school on a particular day. The study concludes that alternative models of funding education through use of vouchers where parents choose among schools thus making schools and teachers directly accountable to parents may be a solution to tackling teacher absenteeism.

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