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Court action as tests cut teaching time

INDIA. An Indian state, alarmed by the discovery that 800,000 children in its schools cannot read and write properly, is to increase the number of tests taken by pupils each year from six to 14.

A teachers' union has estimated the new tests regime in Maharashtra, which has Mumbai as its capital, will mean the loss of 67 per cent of teaching time each month.

"Where is the time for teaching?" asked Mr Ramesh Joshi, general secretary of the teachers' union, Brihanmumbai Mahapalika Shikshak Sabha. The union has taken its case to the high court.

Mr Joshi warned that pupils would be driven away from school by the loss of learning time.

The Mumbai municipal authority, which runs municipal schools in the city has ruled that teachers and principals in schools run by the civic body be "punished, transferred or sacked" if results fail to make the grade for two consecutive years.

Suresh Davare, general secretary of the municipal teachers' union, said it was unfair to blame teachers for pupils' poor performance. But the civic authority is in no mood to relent.

Vasant Patankar, additional municipal commissioner for education, said: "We pay them good salaries and incentives. They must work harder and strive for more."

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