Delhi School of Economics
The Myth of Teacher Shortage in India
This paper examines the widespread perception in India that the country has an acute teacher shortage of about one million teachers in public elementary schools, a view repeated in India’s National Education Policy 2020. Using official DISE data, we show that there is hardly any net teacher deficit in the country since there is roughly the same number of surplus teachers as the number of teacher vacancies. Secondly, we show that measuring teacher requirements after removing the estimated fake students from enrolment data greatly reduces the required number of teachers and increases the number of surplus teachers, yielding an estimated net surplus of about 342,000 teachers. Thirdly, we show that if we both remove fake enrolment and also make a suggested hypothetical change to the teacher allocation rule to adjust for the phenomenon of emptying public schools (which has slashed the national median size of public schools to a mere 64 students, and rendered many schools ‘tiny’), the estimated net teacher surplus is about 764,000 teachers. Fourthly, we highlight that if government does fresh recruitment to fill the supposed nearly one-million vacancies as promised in the National Education Policy 2020, the already modest national mean pupil-teacher-ratio of 22.8 would fall to 15.9, at a permanent fiscal cost of nearly Rupees 480 billion (USD 6.6 billion) per year in 2017-18 prices, which is higher than the individual GDPs of 56 countries in that year. The paper highlights the major economic efficiencies that can result from an evidence-based approach to teacher recruitment and deployment policies.
Datta, S. and Kingdon, G. 2021. The Myth of Teacher Shortage in India. RISE Working Paper Series. 21/072. https://doi.org/10.35489/BSG-RISE-WP_2021/072