Happens all the time

The predicament faced by Pinky’s school is hardly unique. State-run schools across the country are grappling with an acute shortage of teachers. India was short of 1.2 million teachers in 2010, with many schools running only on a single teacher.

India, as a result, is raising a generation that does not even have basic arithmetic or reading abilities.

Image for article titled The mathematical mess of Indian schools: four teachers for 700 students

The RTE requires all children aged six to 14 to attend school. And the country has made tremendous gains in providing access to schooling in the past four years—about 90% of all primary school-age children were enrolled in school by 2011. But the Act pays little attention to what they learn when they are there. Nearly half of grade four students in government schools in India cannot answer the following question correctly: 70 -43=?

Angry girls

But the fact that girls in this small town in conservative Rajasthan have chosen to vociferously demand an education is unusual. Many girls in their position would simply give up on formal schooling.

According to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2013, 47% schools in the country still do not have separate toilets for girls, forcing them to skip classes or drop out entirely.

In Bhim, the boys-only school not only has a toilet, it also has 26 teachers—much to the chagrin of Pinky and her friends.

“The boys’ school has toilets, clean drinking water and a steady supply of books and teachers. Why such inequality? How are they superior to us? With enough teachers, we will get better marks than the boys do,” said Pinky.

So far the authorities have done little for the girls, despite the protests or newspaper articles, but they have suspended their school principal (ad hoc) for allegedly provoking the students to hold the protest.

“It was her responsibility to pacify the students. Complaints of staff shortage keep coming from across the district and we try our best to address the issue,” a member of the local administration told the Indian Express newspaper.

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