The rot eating away at India's primary education system
Underqualified 'contract teachers' earn just 25 percent of a regular teacher's salary
The majority of teachers in Bihar's primary schools are contract workers (Photo: BBC / Prashant Ravi)
When authorities in India's Bihar state began a mass recruitment of primary school teachers in 2003, many believed it would lead to an improvement in the quality of education.
Bihar's primary schools did not have enough teachers, so the new recruits were welcomed.
To fill in the hundreds of thousands of vacancies, the appointment rules were relaxed -- the teachers were hired on presentation of degree certificates issued by the city or village council officials, they did not have to write any competitive examination and it was not necessary for them to have an education degree.
Known as "contract teachers", these new recruits are paid just 25% of a regular teacher's salary of 40,000 rupees (US$666) a month.
More than a decade later, things look relatively better on paper -- some 417,000 teachers, a majority of them (362,000) hired in the last decade, are employed with 73,000 primary schools.
But the reality is much grimmer: news washed up recently that more than 20,000 of the new recruits had forged their degree certificates to get their jobs. Authorities have already dismissed 779 teachers after investigation.
Senior education department official Ram Sharnagat told the BBC that they had received complaints against 52,000 teachers for submitting fake certificates.
"We will conduct a thorough probe and those who have forged their certificates will lose their jobs," state Education Minister Brishen Patel said.
This is not the first time that such a scandal has hit school education in Bihar: some 15,000 teachers were dismissed in December 2008 for providing forged certificates.
Full Story: The rot in India's primary education
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