As per the NITI Aayog's outcome report on the Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital in Education (SATH-E) on Tuesday, India should rationalize teacher recruitment and combine small, low-enrollment, and sub-scale schools with neighboring ones to maximize its learning outcomes.
The report, which offers general recommendations based on the SATH-E implementation in three states, claims that China has five times as many schools per student than India does, and that more than 50% of primary schools in numerous states have fewer than 60 students enrolled.
“The cost of such subscale schools in the form of extensive multi-grade teaching, lack of a student and parent community that can demand accountability, poor infrastructure, the same 1-2 teachers also handling all administrative responsibilities in the absence of headmasters/ principals, etc. is very high,” the NITI Aayog report said.
It added, “thoughtfully executed school mergers is one path forward. This has been executed across SATH-E states with favourable results.”
By working with the NITI Aayog, Jharkhand was able to save Rs 400 crore by merging 4,380 schools.
About 35,000 schools in Madhya Pradesh were chosen to merge with neighboring academic establishments. Of these schools, only twenty percent had a principal or headmaster. After the merger, there were headmasters in 55% of the schools, as there were only 16,000 left.
The state government of Odisha combined 2,000 schools into same-campus institutions.
Decentralization of Authorities
In order to improve governance, the NITI Aayog has recommended that states decentralize authority to principals, district, and block officers. This entails granting them more financial authority and decision-making freedom.
For a while now, school mergers have been considered as a potential policy intervention. However, there has been worry about how this might affect students' access to education, particularly in places with spotty or nonexistent internet.
According to the central think tank, these could be overcome by carefully planned mergers. In addition to merging schools, the group recommended that states create a set of sizable schools (10–20% dispersed throughout the state) as integrated K–12 institutions and arrange transportation so that all students could fairly access them.
The glaring discrepancy between the number of teachers needed and those hired has been brought to light by NITI Aayog.
“India has a shortage of more than a million teachers and several states have anywhere (between 30 and 50 per cent) teacher vacancies. In addition, available teachers are not distributed equitably with more teachers available than required in urban areas and disproportionately higher vacancies in rural areas.”