India is one of the ten fastest growing economies in the world. It is also poised to be the youngest nation in terms of its population by 2020. However, India also has the largest number of illiterates in the world, at 37 percent of the global total. In the past 60 years, however, it has failed to educate its citizens, notably the rural and the marginalised communities. One of the glaring reasons for this is absent teachers from the government schools in India. According to a World Bank study based on unannounced visits to government schools, 25% of teachers were absent from school, and only about half were teaching. Absence rates varied from 15% in Maharashtra to 42% in Jharkhand. The same report also estimates the teacher absence from the government schools of India costs the country around $1.5 billion per year.
A glaring example of how Indian education system is plagued by teacher absenteeism comes to light with a video report prepared by a Video Volunteers' community correspondent.
The report shows how extreme the absenteeism has gotten: a government-run Utramit Primary School of Sahebganj district is always shut! Out of the 365 days of the year, the school only remains open for national festivals like January 26 and August 15. Though the school has four appointed government teachers, it has never educated a single child.
As our community correspondent in the state, Shikha Paharin discovers that the village residents have appealed to the Village head on several occasions in the past. Worried about their children's future, the village residents have also written to the District Collector with a formal complaint. But the school doors have continued to remain shut.
Eager to access education, the children travel six kilometres t a jungle to a government school in the nearby village.
With increasing teacher absenteeism in government schools, the poor and disadvantaged suffer the most. Equality in access to education is of utmost importance if we want to aim towards ending poverty, increasing national productivity and improve the state of law and order in the society.
Call to Action: Let us take a step towards building accountability of the school administrators, with equal opportunities for all our children. Call the Block Education Officer of Sahebganj on +91-9162464649 and demand that Utramit Primary School starts conducting regular classes for the students.
This video was made by a Video Volunteers Community Correspondent Shikha Paharin.
Community Correspondents come from marginalised communities in India and produce videos on unreported stories. These stories are ’news by those who live it.’ they give the hyperlocal context to global human rights and development challenges. See more such videos at www.videovolunteers.org.
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