First Published: Thu, Oct 24 2013. 12 35 PM IST
Study gains significance in light of requirement under Right to Education to reduce pupil-teacher ratio while phasing out untrained teachers
New Delhi: Teachers on contract, who come to class more often than tenured teachers who are sometimes paid five times more, improve learning outcomes, a new study of 200 schools in Andhra Pradesh has found. The study that finds that learning outcomes improve through addition of contract teachers gains significance in the light of the requirement under the April 2010 right to education law to reduce the pupil to teacher ratio (from 40:1 to 30:1), while phasing out untrained teachers.
“The experimental results establish that the marginal product of contract teachers is positive and refute the conventional view that these teachers will not help improve learning,” the study says.
The rise in the share of contract teachers in all public schools from 6% in 2003 to 30% in 2010 has been controversial, said the National Bureau of Economic Research’s working paper, titled Contract Teachers: Experimental Evidence from India, by researchers Karthik Muralidharan and Venkatesh Sundararaman.
Quality has been a concern in India’s elementary education system, with about 60% of children aged 6-14 in rural India, 97% of whom are enrolled in school, unable to read at the second-grade level, though over 97% of them were enrolled in school according to the 2012 Annual Status of Education Report survey conducted by non-governmental organization Pratham. To be sure, the current study does not compare schools relying completely on contract teachers with those having regular teachers.
“It is an interesting and rigorous study that adds to the existing body of knowledge, but the message I get is that teacher training systems need to be repaired if untrained teachers are doing better than regular ones,” said Anuradha De, a researcher at New Delhi-based education research group Collaborative Research and Dissemination.