According to the Ministry of Human Resource and Development report 2018, India has over 1 lakh ‘single-teacher schools’ with teacher training in nascent stage at best. Questions regarding the adequacy of teachers in handling the children with learning disabilities and special needs abound.
The school education scenario in India looks bleak when figures reflecting the glaring scarcity of teachers in India are taken into account. India has 1 lakh schools where there is only one teacher, the tragedy is that they have an official name—‘single-teacher schools’. Implications of this fact are not hard to imagine but exceedingly hard to redress.
In this day and age when we are straining our imaginations on the subjects like individualized attention and personalized learning, we have a parallel situation where we find ourselves at a loss faced with the question of maintaining a functional pupil teacher ratio (PTR).
In a reply submitted by Upendra Kushwaha, the Minister of State (HRD), in Rajya Sabha roughly two years prior, the PTR at national level for elementary schools is 24:1 and for secondary schools is 27:1.
The numbers are deceptive if not taken in perspective. We must consider the numerous single-teacher schools of rural India. In 2018 a report on single-teacher schools was tabled in the parliament. The said report brought to light the fact that there are as many as 1 lakh single teacher schools in the country. That means that there is only one teacher to teach all the students enrolled in the entire school, for all the grades. Now, we must remember that this is the official number and that official numbers are generally conservative. The situation therefore is distressing to say the least. It is estimated that India is short of at least 1 million teachers.
Training of Teachers and Special Teachers Woefully Inadequate
In addition to the deficit in numbers the deficiency in quality of teachers is also an ever-present concern in India. The country lacks in the number of qualified teachers both in the government and private schools. If we consider the lack of teachers to teach the children with special needs, we will find ourselves in an abject state. There are just not enough teachers who are trained to teach children with special needs or learning disabilities, not even in the private schools. The tenets of inclusive education that have been endorsed by the policy papers and the Right to Education Act itself are simply not followed through.
If we venture to ask about the preparedness of teachers and professionals to educate children with learning disorders, we find an equally bleak picture. There is also a lack of initiative on the part of teachers to get trained in dealing with the children with issues like ADHD or learning disorders as they believe that there is no incentive in pursuing such a training.
At best, teacher training for catering to the need of special children in India is in a nascent stage. 'Accessible India Campaign', aimed at enhancing accessibility of schools for the Persons with Disabilities (PwD) was launched in 2015 by the Govt. of India. This initiative also did not expressly say anything children with learning disorders.
Notably, CBSE in 2015, made it compulsory for its affiliated schools to appoint a special educator. However, the schools are hard pressed to find special educators as there are simply not enough of them. The teacher training programmes have special education courses in the curriculum but they focus on hearing and speaking disabilities only.
There is an urgent need for teachers and a dire need for special educators in India and both state and central governments will have to take coordinated action to attend to it.
Founder & Consultant - School Serv
Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.
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