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All about optimal student teacher ratio and why you should consider it


What is student teacher ratio

Student teacher ratio is a ratio of number of students attending the school with number of teachers employed by the school. As an example, student teacher ratio for primary schools in India is 32:1. This means for every 32 students attending the school, there is a 1 teacher. The target number, as per the Right to Education act is 30:1.  This ratio indicates (indirectly) the attention that a student is likely to receive in a class in that particular school. A class will have students with diverse interests and different learning abilities. Large student teacher ratio, say 50:1, means more students to be managed for each teacher and thus lesser individual attention. 

This metric of student teacher ratio has become an important factor to be considered while selecting new schools for your kids. Schools with low student teacher ratio realize this and actively advertise this and also charge for this. 

Manageable class strength


What is an optimal student teacher ratio

Is smaller student teacher ratio always better? The obvious conclusion from above is that we should go for schools with low student teacher ratios since that would mean better, individualized attention to the student, helping in overall development of the child. But is it so simple? Like all things in life, there is a need to look deeper. We need to look for optimal student teacher ratio. If the ratio is too large it means lesser attention to students by the teacher, more chaotic classes and loss of interest in what is taught.

If the student teacher ratio is too small, say 5:1, then it means there are only 5 students in the class for every 1 teacher. If the class strength is very small, then it means ... 

  • Reduced opportunity to collaborate and learn from each other. Students of ten learn from each other's questions and remarks. Lesser number of students would mean a very limited interaction.
  • Reduced competition within students and lesser motivation to work hard to perform well. Believe it or not, competition is one of the biggest motivators and this motivation will be lost / reduced if there are too few students in the class
  • Reduced exposure for students. School is a first instance where students step out of their homes, make new friends and interact with others. If there are only 5 students in the class, the chances of finding great friends, interacting with others and learning new things is often reduced by that much.
So, the bottom line is, we need to look for an optimal student teacher ratio. Not too small and not too large. The actual value of optimal student teacher ratio depends upon multiple factors including age of the child, subjects taught etc.  

Great, so can we now find the best schools based on their stated student teacher ratio. Well, not really. It appears that the schools realize that this is an important indicator to parents and they often hide the real information behind a simple number. In our next article Student teacher ratio - what do schools hide behind the number, we will focus on exactly that and help you ask the right questions to uncover the truth.  

This article is part of SchoolCountry's series on how to find the great schools for your kids. You can stay updated on the latest blog posts in this series by joining us on email, RSS feed or facebook. If you liked this article, tell your friends about it on facebook by pressing the like button below. 

We would love to hear your thoughts on this topic to enrich our understanding further.  Let us know what you think. 

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