NEW DELHI: Classrooms in Indian schools could soon have less than 30 students each at every level, the New Education Policy approved by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday has suggested.
It also says that in areas with large numbers of socio-economically disadvantaged students, schools should have a pupil-teacher ratio of 25:1.
Under the Right to Education Act 2009, which covers children between 6-14 years of age, the stipulated pupil-teacher ratio for primary classes and upper primary classes is 30:1 and 35:1 respectively.
“A pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) of under 30:1 will be ensured at the level of each school; areas having large numbers of socio-economically disadvantaged students will aim for a PTR of under 25:1,” says the NEP—that has now been adopted by the Centre after months of to and fro between the Union Human Resources Development Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office.
Educationist Neelam Sood, who has been with the National Institute of Education Planning and Administration, said it’s a significant change.
“Large classes with much-reduced attention on children are a major impediment in the teaching and learning process and the new recommended TPR is a positive change,” she said.
Sood, however, added that the emphasis should also be on enhancing the quality of teachers and filling vacancies across India.
Officials in the HRD ministry said that this aspect, too, has been addressed in the NEP.
The policy, for example, says that to ensure that good students enter the teaching profession - especially from rural areas - a large number of merit-based scholarships will be instituted across the country for studying quality 4-year integrated B.Ed. programmes.
In rural areas, special merit-based scholarships will be established that also include preferential employment in their local areas upon successful completion of their B.Ed. programs.
Such scholarships will provide local job opportunities to local students, especially female students so that these students serve as local-area role models and as highly-qualified teachers who speak the local language, says the policy.
The NEP also proposes that “incentives will be provided for teachers to take up teaching jobs in rural areas, especially in areas that are currently facing acute shortage of quality teachers.”
A key incentive for teaching in rural schools will be the provision of local housing near or on the school premises or increased housing allowances.
The policy also emphasises that “teachers doing outstanding work must be recognized and promoted, and given salary raises, to incentivize all teachers to do their best work.”
“Therefore, a robust merit-based structure of tenure, promotion, and salary structure will be developed, with multiple levels within each teacher stage, that incentivizes and recognizes outstanding teachers.”(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)