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The Government of India (GoI) has been dedicated to providing universal primary education to all children and improving the quality of education. A crucial determinant of the quality of education is the availability of teachers as it directly affects student learning.

The Quality of Education in Rural India component of the Health and Education in India project seeks to measure the availability of teachers, and subsequently, the quality of education. Between 2009 and 2010, detailed surveys were conducted with teachers, headmasters, and education officials in a representative sample of 1,653 villages across the 19 most populous states in India to estimate the absence rates of teachers and the quality of education measured through standardized learning tests.

This project builds on a previous study examining teacher availability in rural India in 2003, which showed that a quarter of government primary school teachers were absent from school during unannounced visits.  We again made three unannounced visits to directly verify attendance of teachers in government and private primary schools. One previously suggested method to decrease absence rates was to strengthen local governance such as allowing Village Education Committees (VECs) to monitor teacher absence. Thus, we conducted surveys with local, district, and state education officials to better understand monitoring, evaluation, and management of schools. Since the eventual goal is to improve the quality of education, we conducted standardized math and language tests in 4th standard classrooms to measure student learning outcomes.

We hope this project will contribute to the design and implementation of GoI’s education initiatives such as the Sarva Shikshya Abhiyan (SSA) program and the Right to Education Act.

The key objectives are as follows:

To map the entire set of government and private primary schools available in sampled villages, in order to determine access to education for an average household in a rural area.

To provide 2009-2010 measures of the availability of teachers in government and private primary schools in sampled villages.

Enumerators made three unannounced visits to schools to check for the availability and activities of teachers.

Detailed surveys were conducted on the school’s facilities, infrastructure, and financing with the headmaster.

Detailed surveys were conducted with each primary standard teacher to collect information on their training and background.

To provide first estimates on the quality of education measured by standardized Math and Language Tests for 4th standard students (developed by Education Initiatives, India and benchmarked to international standards).

To provide information on governance, including the interaction between schools and the Village Education Committee, the Gram Panchayat, and District and State level Education Departments (in collaboration with the World Bank Human Development Group, System Assessments and Benchmarking for Education Results)