Teachers, who play a vital role in shaping the society, actually spend mere 19.1% of their working hours in imparting knowledge. But what do they do in the remaining time? Answer: election duty, carrying out surveys, pulse polio campaigns and maintaining mid-day meal registers.
What report said?
- In December 2018, as part of a research study trying to understand parental perceptions of government schools conducted in Ahmedabad city, researchers at the Right to Education Resource Centre (RTERC) at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad came across several parents of children attending government schools who complained about the complacency of government school teachers.
- When asked what made them feel teachers were complacent, parents suggested they had witnessed and heard that teachers are often absent from classrooms. Moreover, that the schools in which their children were enrolled had shortages of teachers to begin with, and teacher absenteeism from classrooms over and above the existing shortages meant that children from two or three different grades would be clubbed together and taught in the same classroom.
‘Involvement of Teachers in Non-teaching Activities and its Effect on Education’.
The startling facts were revealed in a report titled ‘Involvement of Teachers in Non-teaching Activities and its Effect on Education’.
The report stated that of the 220 days mandated by the Right to Education (RTE) Act, just 42 days were spent on teaching in 2017-18.
Under the provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, classes I to V (primary) should have 200 working days and classes VI to VIII (upper primary) 220 working days per academic year, with a 45-hour work in a week.
However, when the teachers were asked to recall their activities in the mentioned year, it came to light that 81% of their time was spent as Block Level Officers (BLOs), conducting surveys and duties in the election year.
The data was released after National Institute of Education Planning and Administration (NIEPA), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, conducted the study in select states under Vineeta Sirohi and Manju Narula of the Department of Educational Administration.
The states covered were Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Orissa and Uttarakhand.
What the Numbers Say?
Government school teachers say their responsibilities, in addition to teaching, are spread throughout the year, and the report translates that claim into compelling numbers.
The report claims, only 19.1% of a teachers’ annual school hours is spent on teaching activities. The remaining 81% of teachers’ time is split as “42.6% non-teaching core activities,” “31.8% in non-teaching school related activities,” and “6.5% on other department activities”.
As per official statistics, there are 14.67 lakh schools in the country, with 10.7 lakh government schools and 3.49 lakhs private schools. There are 11 crore children in government schools and 7.43 crore children in private schools. About 6 crore children studying in government schools are estimated to be below the Poverty Line. The official data says there are 80.7 lakh teachers appointed nationwide, out of which 47.3 lakh are government school teachers.
The report also suggests primary school teachers spend higher proportion of school hours annually in non-teaching activities as compared to upper primary school teachers.
In another study, conducted by NCPCR, the burden of non-teaching activities has utilised the most important players of ensuring the RTE – teachers and infrastructure.
The Commission had undertaken a desk review regarding implementation of section 27 of the RTE Act 2009 and involvement of teachers in non-academic activities.
The desk review found that since considerable academic time is lost during the elections, the provision of minimum 220 academic days as per the Schedule u/s 19 of the RTE 2009 remains unfulfilled, leading to violation of important provision of the Act.
The NCPCR report says, “Most of the total 9,28,237 polling stations in 2014 general elections were located in school buildings. For this both private and government school buildings were acquired. Due to this, 10 days are spent in preparations, security measures and inspection. During the period of election duties, Mid-Day Meal is not served in the schools, depriving students of nutrition and the fundamental right to development. Almost 15% of government school teachers are engaged as BLOs, which should not be included as election duty.”
Government school teachers say that many among them are designated BLOs and the additional non-academic responsibilities chew into their teaching time. A teacher at the Salarpur primary school in Noida said that barring two, every teacher at the school was also a designated BLO, who have to furnish their duties at the expense of their primary job — teaching.