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Logical Mapping of the Passage

The author uses the reading passage as a tool to describe something, present his point of view on a particular subject, or elaborate a concept or idea. The author uses a web of words to convey his ideas and opinion.

The fact is only few words and key ideas are critical to understand the passage quickly and accurately. Rest of the words which form a mass of the passage are nothing but extensions, examples, explanations and facts used by the author to elaborate the theme of passage. Some of the words may also be used to display skillful use of language (Rhetoric).

Like an architect who makes a blueprint of the building, visualizing how the construction work will go in the future, an active reader makes a logical outline of ideas in his mind on the basis of how the author builds his ideas and what he wants to convey to the reader.

Underlining or making a mental note of the key ideas of each paragraph as they appear in the passage helps you to understand how the theme of the passage develops.

Since the passages are highly condensed, one is required to read between the lines too, to understand the important elements of the passage which are integral to answering the questions. Do not be misled by illustrations, examples or extensions given by the author but learn to seive the important details.

Such focused reading also helps you to read faster as you save your time by not getting into extraneous details. It also increases the comprehension as one does not miss out on the main points.


Read the following passage carefully and underline the key points. Identify the logical flow of the passage.

Time Allowed: 8 minutes

Education is a mess because politicians refuse to discipline teachers who sabotage primary education. Surveys show that government teacher absenteeism ranges from 20 per cent to 57 per cent in different states, yet they earn thrice or more than private sector teachers.

Some teachers run businesses (shops, transport services). Others skip school in the morning but give paid tuitions to richer students in the afternoon.

No wonder half of all students drop out by Class 7. Barely 30-50 per cent can read the alphabet in Class 1, and barely 40-50 per cent can read simply words in Class 2. Millions who complete school emerge functionally illiterate, unable to read simple paragraphs or do simple arithmetic. Yet no political party is willing to discipline teachers or
demand performance.

An obvious reason is the power of teacher trade union. These often launch strikes just before school examinations, impelling state governments to surrender rather than jeopardize the future of students. Hence, teachers get ever-higher salaries while escaping accountability for performance. Teachers’ salaries appropriate almost the whole educational budget, leaving hardly anything for other items such as teaching materials and textbooks. Between 1960 and 1980 in Uttar Pradesh, the share of non-salary pending in education fell from 12 per cent to 3 per cent in primary education, and from 28 per cent to 9 per cent in secondary education.

A seasoned politician gave me a big additional reason for teacher power. You see, he said, government teachers preside over polling booths at election time. So we must cosset them, not antagonize them. Otherwise teachers will help rival parties to rig elections, and we cannot afford that at any cost.

A recent book by Geeta Kingdon and Mohammed Muzammil (The Political Economy of Education in India) throws new light on teacher power in Uttar Pradesh. Teachers are politically strong because they themselves have become politicians in astonishingly large numbers. Masterji has become netaji.

The Constitution provides a quota for teachers in the Upper Houses of State Legislatures. Only large states have an Upper House, but the bulk of the population is in such states.

Second, while the law prohibits government servants from contesting elections, it makes an exception for teachers. Why should teachers be allowed to contest but not doctors, clerks, sanitary engineers or other officials? The only reason is teacher clout.

Third, teachers are often the best educated in rural areas, and so are natural leaders. Hence, they are elected in large numbers to the lower houses of state legislatures too. Since they have so much spare time—they only teach in the mornings, if at all—many do political work. Some are really politicians pretending to be teachers in order to collect a regular salary and have an institutionalized position of power Fourth, politicized teachers help provide the troops needed for rallies and elections. Teachers help organize students in secondary schools to become political campaigners. This in turn produces a peculiar breed of “student leaders” who see a future in politics but none in education. They agitate for an automatic pass for all students, not high academic standards.

Kingdon and Muzammil give some stunning figures about the teacher-politician nexus in Uttar Pradesh. In the Upper House, 8.5 per cent of seats are reserved for teachers, yet the proportion actually elected to the Upper House varies from 13 per cent to 22 per cent. Clearly, the power of teachers far exceeds their Constitutional quota.

The Lower House has no teacher quota. Yet teachers accounted for 10.8 per cent of all elected MLAs in the 1993 election, and 8.7 per cent in the 1996 election, far above their 0.9 per cent share in the adult population.

Their share of Cabinet posts was even higher. This share has usually been in double digits since 1985, with a peak of 16.3 per cent in 1991-92. This high share persists regardless of which party is in power—Congress, BJP, Samajwadi, BSP. Mayawati, whose party is tipped to win the next election, is herself an ex-teacher.

This, then, explains why all state governments treat teachers with kid gloves, and in the bargain ignore the mess in education. One obvious way to improve education and teacher accountability is to empower panchayats and parents’ associations to discipline absentee teachers. But despite the Constitutional amendment seeking to devolve primary education to panchayats, all efforts at actual devolution have been sabotaged. The Kalyan Singh government in 1992 tried to give managers of aided private schools greater powers over teachers, but this led to a mass strike, and the government backed down. In the late 1990s the UP government tried to devolve some educational powers to panchayats, but once again teachers went on the rampage and the government caved in.

This is why many state governments prefer to let panchayats hire para-teachers—local people without proper teacher qualifications. These have helped improve basic literacy at a cost one-fifth that of regular teachers. That is a short-term gain, but para-teachers cannot provide quality education. Besides, in some states para-teachers are agitating to be recognized as regular teachers.
What is the way out? Kingdon and Muzammil offer no panaceas. If villagers and panchayats get sufficiently angry with the mess in education, they could create a countervailing political force. That day still seems far off.


The 1st paragraph highlights the main idea of the passage—the sorry state of education in India is primarily because of political unwillingness to reform primary education.

The second and the third paragraph bring facts to support that education is in a state of complete mess like: high drop out rates of students and high absenteeism among teachers because of their personal interests. The author then discusses the real reason behind the teacher power: powerful teacher unions and other political compulsions. The author presents facts from the book by Kingdon and Muzammil to support his main argument explaining the reasons behind teach power. The author presents some more facts and figures to explain the teacher-politician nexus. The last paragraph talks about one possible solution to this is to empower the local political bodies like village panchayats and parents’ associations and the challenges in implementing it.

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