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8% of primary school teachers in Bihar fail Class V test

Around 8,000 teachers were unable to answer simple questions on science, math, English and Hindi and will lose their jobs if they fail a second time

After a major report on the state of education showed up the poor quality of education in the country despite higher enrolment figures (see High-enrolment-but-poor-quality-education-says-annual-education-report), the focus should naturally shift to quality of teaching.

This is what the Bihar government is doing after discovering that the level of knowledge of its teachers is poor. Eight per cent of teachers could not pass a paper set for Class V students.    

The questions related to simple maths, science, English and Hindi. Such as which planet is closest to the sun, and what metal is the filament in a bulb made of. They were multiple choice questions and the pass mark for the 100-mark paper was 30. Still, 8,884 teachers (over 8%) failed. If they fail again, they will lose their jobs.

The state human resources development department has so far held two competency tests and will remove 174 teachers from service because they twice failed to qualify.

The test is held every six months; a teacher has to clear it just once in her/his entire career.

Bihar has been trying to better its education enrolment figures and has appointed 2.5 lakh teachers in more than 51,000 primary schools.

Though the central government mandates that primary teachers must have a BEd degree and pass a teacher eligibility test, the Bihar state government wanted the state to be exempted from this rule as it lacks BEd-trained teachers. Instead, it wants primary teachers to be recruited through an open exam that all candidates, whether or not they have the required degree, must sit. If they pass the exam, those who do not have a BEd degree will be given training by the state government.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has stuck to this selection process despite criticism.

Education Minister Kapil Sibal told the Rajya Sabha in August 2010 that there was a shortage of 1.2 million teachers countrywide; in Bihar, about 100,696 posts are vacant.

Source: The Indian Express, April 4, 2010