PUNE: Secondary schools including those from hilly regions in the state will follow a teacher-students ratio of 1:20, said State Education Minister Vinod Tawde during the ongoing Legislative Assembly session in Nagpur on Tuesday.
MLA Dattatray Sawant had raised a query and demanded prioritisation and quick attention on the issue. In his reply, Tawde said, “Section 25 of the Right To Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which came into effect on April 1, 2010, clarifies on the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) in primary and secondary schools in the State. The Maharashtra government resolutions on December 30, 2013 and August 28, 2015 direct schools to fix the number of teachers according to the number of students in a class.”
Section 25 (1) on pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) states that within three years from the date of commencement of this Act, the appropriate government and the local authority shall ensure that the PTR, as specified in the schedule, is maintained in each school. Section 25 (2) states that for the purpose of maintaining the PTR under sub-section (1), no teacher posted in a school shall be made to serve in any other school or office or deployed for any non-educational purpose, other than that specified in section 27.
Expressing their views on the issue, educationists said the move will benefit students at large. They said reducing the number of students to a teacher will enable the teacher to give more attention to each student. However, they doubted how the system would be implemented.
Around 20,000 posts of teachers are vacant in the State. Commenting on the scenario, Mukund Kirdat, education activist, said, “There are 22,000 vacancies of teachers in primary schools. Around 18,000 vacancies are in secondary schools. Considering this scenario, the ratio of one teacher to 20 students doesn’t fit the maths unless a massive recruitment of teachers is held.”
In 2014-15, the State government claimed there were 81,000 students out of school. However, according to the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, 1.45 lakh students were out of school. In 2017-18, the State claimed that only 48,379 students were out of school.
“Over the years, the State government has been showing that the number of out-of-school students has been decreasing, which means more students are being enrolled in schools now. However, the number of vacant positions of teachers has remained the same in the past few years. Also, in every three years, at least two per cent of teachers retire taking the number of vacancies to go up,” added Kirdat.
Sharad Javadekar, a city-based education activist, asked how the State government will pay salaries of new teachers, if appointed, as only 2 to 2.5 per cent in the State budget is allocated for the education sector. “Reducing the number of students to one teacher means a rise in number of teachers across the State. The State government has not made any provision to increase the expenditure on education. Then how will these new teachers be paid?” asked Javadekar.