Schools without Teachers: India’s Corrupt Education System
The people who manage India’s education system are as corrupt as they come.
With little funding, dilapidated facilities, and a corrupt leadership, India’s rapid development is ultimately linked with its ability to keep up with and educate its growing population of young people. By far the biggest problem facing India’s education system is teacher absenteeism.
What happens to a school when the teachers don’t show up? According to UNESCO’s International Institute of Educational Planning study on corruption in education, India’s rate of teacher absenteeism is 25% while the global average is 20%. A quarter of all students show up to school each day without a teacher. Teacher absenteeism obviously affects time the students spend in the classroom, but it also impacts the school’s resources spent on making other arrangements, substitute teachers, and having existing teachers split their attention on twice as many students. The drain on resources could add to as much as 22.5% of all education funds in India, says the report.
Towards Establishing New Criteria
One of the main reasons for teacher absenteeism in India is that there are no established policies for teacher recruitment, no system for awarding promotions, and no policies on fair pay.
Teachers in India are paid very low wages to begin with, but they supplement their income by offering private tutoring services to the students after school and on weekends. It reminds me of the time I had a high school science teacher who offered $180 dollar per hour SAT tutoring after class, in the public schools classrooms for his own private profit. Anyone who paid the outlandish amount for the tutoring obviously got an A in the class. The same thing happens in India, where private tutoring has always been an achievement that some people with money strive to get for their kids. The parents usually pay for these tutoring services, which creates conflicts of interest when students go back to school and have the same teacher assigning grades and evaluating their performance.
India struggled with its colonial legacy and its problem of late development for many decades, but now the society is expanding so rapidly that certain mechanisms of the society are having trouble keeping up. Bureaucrats and infrastructures are weak and corrupt, so sometimes it is cheaper and more efficient for an individual to pay a bribe than to wait for months and months for their request to be pushed through the system. This has created a unique paradox in itself. In a place where almost all the officials around you are corrupt, the law abiding official who refuses to take bribes becomes a threat to the way of life – a threat to the system that everyone around him is getting their piece of. Setting education policies on teacher recruitment, training, retention, promotions, and fair pay will be much easier once India can take care of its general corruption epidemic.
But the advances in open education are making it possible for parents and instructors to get students engaged in math, science, history, and technology if they have access to computers and internet. Khan Academy is leading the way in a complete, free math and science education from basic addition all the way up to multi variable calculus, advanced physics, and more. While India’s bureaucracy settles itself out over the next couple decades, it really behooves parents and teachers to familiarize themselves with the materials that are out there so they can get their kids to engage with the knowledge and skills to be successful in the 21st century no matter the state of educational affairs in their area.
Photo Credit: the opoponax (Flickr)