A healthy teacher-student ratio to maximise learning in the class is ideally 1:35. However, as many as 21,947 out of the 75,489 schools, including private ones, in Karnataka have just 2 or fewer teachers.
According to the provisional figures released for 2015-16 by District Information System for Education (DISE), 1,767 schools have no teachers at all, while 5,503 have only 1 and 14,667 have just 2. The most distressing fact is that 5 educational districts have more than 100 schools with zero teachers: Kalaburgi (168), Bengaluru South (112) Tumakuru, Chikkamangaluru (104 each) and Mysuru (101).
According to Primary and secondary education principal secretary Ajai Seth, this skew in the number of teachers per school is also due to a drop in enrolment in some schools which has prompted the administration to transfer the teachers to places where there are more students. Additionally, Seth adds, the rule that makes it necessary to have a school for every kilometre has resulted in fragmentation of students and a lot of small schools thus stretching the teaching resources.
Educationists point out to 45,000 unfilled seats in high schools alone and blame the inability of the government to fill seats. "In the past 3 years, nearly 32,000 primary school teachers have retired. The government needs to immediately fill these posts and in make a provision to fill such posts in advance for the future," Basavaraj Gurika, president, Karnataka Primary School Teachers Association said.
Seth agreed there are about 33,000 vacancies in primary schools, but said about 8,000 of them have been filled.
"That is because these vacancy numbers pertain to years when the student enrolment was high. However, from 2001-2011 the rural population has grown only 7% while the urban population has grown 34%. So there are many schools where we do not need teachers." Pai also pointed out that 50% of primary school children enrolled in the state are with private schools and this is expected to increase.
VP Niranjan Aradhya, fellow at the Centre for Child and the Law, NLSIU, said, "The problem is with the government looking at vacancies at the state and district level. That has to change. They have to look at vacancies at the school level."