Myth and Reality of Teacher Shortage in India
Geeta KingdonUniversity College London
This paper examines the widespread perception in India that the country has an acute shortage of one million teachers in public elementary schools, a view repeated in India’s National Education Policy 2020. Our analysis of government’s DISE data shows that the median number of enrolled pupils in India’s 1.03 million public elementary schools is a mere 63 pupils, and that many tiny schools have surplus teachers. Adjusting those against the number of teacher vacancies yields a net deficit of only a quarter million teachers. Secondly, removing fake student enrolments converts this net deficit into a net surplus of about one hundred thousand teachers. Thirdly, we show that if government does its promised fresh recruitment to fill the supposed one-million teacher vacancies, the already modest mean pupil-teacher-ratio of 25.1 would fall to 19.9, permanently increasing fiscal cost by USD 8.7 billion per year in 2019-20 prices, which is higher than the individual GDPs of 50 poorest countries that year. The paper highlights the importance of evidence-based policies on minimum viable school-size, teacher-allocation norms, permissible maximum pupil teacher ratios, and teacher deployment.