UP has more children than people in Spain but fewest teachers, low outcomes

UP has more children than people in Spain but fewest teachers, low outcomes: India's largest state by population has the worst pupil-teacher ratio...

Target 100% literacy
This refers to the report “UP: More children than people in Spain but worst pupil-teacher ratio in India” (Business Standard, January 8). By almost every parameter, the largest state in India continues to be the most neglected state, viewed in the context of human development indicators including literacy level. It is a shame that this is despite the proximity of the state to national capital and the state having given maximum number of prime ministers so far. We must thank indiaspend.org for telling the obvious with supporting data making it perilous for policy makers to ignore. The report, without listing, has brought out the following issues which need immediate policy interventions from central and state governments:
(i)               Expenditure on primary education: This has to go up drastically, if literacy level has to improve at a faster pace. Resources can come from Centre, states or privatesector. Perhaps NITI Ayog can have an assessment and give guidance in the matter.
(ii)            Pupil-teacher ratio: It may not be possible for states like UP to find enough teachers locally to improve the ratio. Centre should help such states by creating a talent pool at national level from which deficit states can recruit teachers.
(iii)    Child labour and school attendance: The relationship should be studied and corrective measures taken. There should be disincentives for schools working with attendance under acceptable levels.
(iv)          Exams: There is a case for rethinking about the present system of allowing promotions without proper examinations. This observation is in the context of the observation that majority of Class III students are not able to read Class I text books!

If Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reference to ‘absence of toilet facilities inschools’ as a possible reason for girl children dropping out of schools at upper primary level can bring about changes in our attitude to infrastructure in schools across the country, we can trust in nation’s ability to change the way people think about literacy and to move towards 100% literacy faster than many think.
M G Warrier, Mumbai


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