Biometric attendance for teachers on cards to check absenteeism
Among the factors responsible for poor quality of primary education in government schools, teachers' absenteeism is at the top. To deal with the situation, the government in its Economic Survey has suggested biometric attendance system for school teachers, to be monitored by local communities and parents.
The pre-Budget document tabled in Parliament by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that an important concern that is often raised in the context of school education is low learning outcomes.
"Some of the underlying causes contributing to low quality of education in the primary sector are teacher absenteeism and the shortage of professionally qualified teachers," the Survey said.
Suggesting measures to tackle the problem, it said, "An option to address teacher absenteeism that can be explored is biometric attendance of all teachers in primary schools for each scheduled class/lecture/session/distinct from the present system."
"A pilot project in one district of every State may be commenced for six months to be expanded to all districts in three years," it added.
"This should be backed by adequate teaching aids, recorded lectures, etc. to fill in for absentee teachers," the survey said.
"The pilot of biometric attendance of teachers should be accompanied with an evaluation of learning outcomes," it added.
The Economic Survey lamented that despite increase in spending on Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) budget over the years from 35 per cent in 2011-12 to 59 per cent in 2014-15, "teacher absenteeism and the shortage of professionally qualified teachers remain an issue to be addressed".
According to Annual Status of Education Report 2016, the proportion of children in Class III who are able to read at least Class I level text has gone up slightly, from 40.2 per cent in 2014 to 42.5 per cent in 2016.
This proportion shows substantial increases among children in government schools in many states, including Punjab, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Telangana. All these states show an improvement of more than 7 percentage points since 2014.
"Overall reading levels in Class V are almost the same year on year from 2011 to 2016. However, the proportion of children in Class V, who could read a Class II level text improved by more than 5 percentage points from 2014 to 2016 in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tripura, Nagaland and Rajasthan," the report said.