India’s rural schools could save Rs 440 crore per year paid in salaries to teachers absent from classrooms by paying a tenth of that amount (Rs 43 crore per year) to school inspectors, according to a 2016 World Bank paper.

Kerala, Gujarat, West Bengal, Haryana, Punjab, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu could save more than Rs 10 per rupee spent per year on inspectors, according to World Bank estimates.

Source: World Bank

Absent teachers in rural schools in 19 major states cost India between Rs 8,400 crore and Rs 7,200 crore annually by assuming legitimate absence rates between 8% and 10%, respectively, in 2003-2010, according to estimates by Karthik Muralidharan (University of California, San Diego, US), Jishnu Das (World Bank, Washington, DC), Alaka Holla (World Bank, Washington, DC) and Aakash Mohpal (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor).

Monitoring teachers is more efficient as “hiring more teachers increases the teacher absence rate, which further increases the costs”, the researchers said.

Between 2010 and 2016, teacher attendance has fallen 1.7 percentage points at both the primary and upper primary levels, according to the 2016 Annual Status of Education Report, by Pratham, an education advocacy.

Teachers Present On Day Of Visit, 2010-16
Year Primary Upper Primary
2010 87.1% 86.4%
2012 85.2% 85.4%
2014 85.0% 85.8%
2016 85.4% 84.7%

Source: Annual Status Of Education Report

Absence without a valid reason was only 2.5% of cases in a study of 2,861 teachers in 619 purposively selected government schools by the Azim Premji Foundation, IndiaSpend reported on April 26, 2017.

Of six million teaching positions in government schools nationwide, about 900,000 elementary school teaching positions and 100,000 in secondary school—put together, a million—are vacant with Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand--among India’s poorest states--with the greatest shortages, IndiaSpend reported (click here, here and here).

(Vivek is an analyst with IndiaSpend.)

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