Need to attract the best to teach our children

For the same work, teachers across the country are paid differently; even those with the same qualifications and teaching the same grades within the same State may be paid differently. Teacher salaries span from over a lakh rupees to a few thousand. What are the reasons for this inequity?

The first is the most obvious: difference across school stages due to different eligibility criteria. These criteria range from senior secondary school certification followed by a diploma in education, to a postgraduate degree in their subject, and a bachelor’s or master’s degree in education. This translates into salaries of those at a ‘higher’ stage of schooling being more than someone at a ‘lower’ level of schooling.

The nature of appointment, and not the qualifications, plays a role here. For example, someone with a postgraduate degree in her subject and a bachelor’s degree in education, teaching classes 9 and 10, will be paid less than someone who is appointed to teach classes 11 and 12. Even more stark is the example wherein a pre-primary teacher with a diploma is paid far less than an elementary school teacher for whom the eligibility criteria is also a diploma.

Salaries of teachers across States also differ. While most States have adopted the recommendations of the Pay Commissions, most notably the sixth, there has been some contextualisation which has resulted in differences across States.

In some cases, salaries for the same category of appointment can vary depending on the type of school. For example, someone in an elementary school, with classes 1 to 8, may be paid less than one in a secondary school, with classes 1 to 10, even if they are teaching the same grade. The period of probation also causes differences in salaries. In some States, the salary of teachers on probation is substantially less than those of regular teachers. This is a concern, given that the probation period can range from two to three years.

While the foregoing is applicable to regular teachers, the presence of contract or ‘guest’ teachers within the system must also be considered. While the consolidated amount they are paid varies across States, the difference can be less than half the regular salary, with none of the benefits regular teachers are entitled to.

In this scenario, it is hard to imagine teaching attracting the best and brightest, particularly to the critical years of pre-primary and early primary grades, which seed the foundation of later capacities. The solution, therefore, as suggested by the Draft National Education Policy 2019 as well, lies in equivalence of salary and service conditions across school stages, subsequent to a strong teacher preparation programme.

(Nimrat Khandpur is Associate Professor in the School of Continuing Education, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru)

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 7:22:22 PM |

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