Teachers Go Public to Transform Education in India

published 30 June 2023 updated 12 July 2023

Under the theme – Teachers at the heart of transforming education in India, more than 25 thousand members of the All-India Primary Teachers' Federation (AIPTF) attended their 29th Biennial Conference held on 12 – 13 May at Gandhi Nagar (Gujarat).

Commissioned by Education International, research launched at the Conference revealed that the country score on Sustainable Development 4, i.e., Quality Education For All, had declined since 2019 due to poor learning proficiency at school level, and high drop-out rate at secondary level.

In addition, a large number of teacher vacancies remained unfulfilled, while many schools failed to meet the recommended student-teacher ratio norm. Moreover, as of 2021, around 11 percent of teachers both at the primary and upper primary level were without the required training in India.

Insufficient public funding for education, which currently falls below the recommended 6 percent of Gross Domestic Product, was highlighted as one of the underlying causes of the teacher shortage. Currently, both Union and State Governments combined spend less than 4 percent of GDP on education, with a scarce 2.56 percent allocated to school education.

Go Public: quality education needs quality teachers

To address these challenges, the conference stressed the importance of increasing government funding for education, with a call to join Education International’s global campaign Go Public! Fund Education.

The recruitment of qualified teachers, coupled with opportunities for in-service training, was identified as a crucial step towards improving students' learning outcomes. Furthermore, providing well-trained and well-paid teachers, with secure tenure and social security, would help address the issue of teacher shortage and enhance the attractiveness of the profession.

The Conference also highlighted the importance of making education more inclusive, non-discriminatory, and resilient. It emphasised the need for improved working conditions, salaries, and basic rights for teachers, with a focus on reducing their non-teaching duties. Gender equality in the teaching profession was another area of concern, calling for equal pay, promotions, and opportunities for career advancement for female teachers.

Addressing the Conference, Education International's General Secretary, David Edwards, summarised the urgent need for change, stating: " The very name of our campaign – Go Public! Fund Education – reminds me of AIPTF. To be public is to be loud. To be public about something is to be unmistakable. To be public about something that you feel passionately means organizing and mobilizing. We are not just talking amongst ourselves now; we are going public – invest in teachers and students for a better future.”

The Conference concluded with a resounding call to action for participants to Go Public! Fund Education, acknowledging the transformative power of public education and the responsibility of teachers to unlock students' full potential and guide them towards a brighter future.