In the recent years, high rates of teacher absenteeism in government elementary schools have occupied both researchers and policymakers as an issue of deep concern. Understandably, policy efforts have been oriented towards addressing this issue but primarily with solutions that invoke greater control over teachers.
While there are indeed reasons that keep government school teachers away from class, these have less to do with any delinquency on the part of teachers and more to do with systemic issues that often require them to undertake other activities.
Biometric systems as a means of curbing teacher absenteeism
- suggested by the Government, in its Economic Survey( Government of India, 2017)
Absence without reason, is often seen to be much lower, in the range of 4 – 5%
To analyse more closely the issue of teacher absenteeism, in this study, we examine…
These schools are in the catchment area of the regions in which the Azim Premji Foundation works. We undertook to study these schools to obtain both a numerical sense of the issue and to spend time with the teachers and assess how and why teachers maintain attendance and teaching standards in circumstances where absenteeism and delinquency may be expected.
The findings of the study show that teacher absenteeism, defined as ‘absence without reason’, is 2.5%. Although our sample is not statistically representative of the whole of the country, this number is roughly in the same order of magnitude as in other studies. We also examine some potential correlates of overall absence from classroom and find that there are few obvious systematic differences attributable to the standard arguments.
We then turn to some ethnographic case studies. We provide vignettes of teachers who, despite circumstances that might be trying, stand counter to the widely received stereotype of disengaged and frequently absent teachers.
We conclude by noting that targeting and blaming teachers for matters that are beyond their control or a manifestation of systemic design issues is likely to be counter productive and to adversely affect the government school system.