Exclusion in RTE 2010: Another POA in making!

22Jan12

“Right to Education Act 2010- is a loaded gun without a trigger. The gun was loaded for sure. And yes, with the best of ammunition. But nobody seems willing to pull the trigger now, just like Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 that has all elements to control caste violance but cant do so due to ‘Political/Administration will’ !” Says Sandeep Dongre who works with an NGO in an Educational sector. em>

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Education is fundamental to National development and Right to Education Act is a step exactly in that direction. Even within education, Primary education is of utmost importance as it forms the base for future. By educating the disadvantaged, this country will take a bold step towards Inclusive development and this will certainly propel India to far greater heights. Our problem is much less a large population and the true issue is a large illiterate population. This Act has the potential of correcting the base, giving a solid foundation by way of turning this large population into a valuable asset.

The Key points of this act are:
1. Free and compulsory education to all children of India in the 6 to 14 age group
2. Private educational institutions are now legally bound to reserve 25 per cent of their seats for children from economically disadvantaged communities of the society.
3. No travelling woes, education will be made available to children in their neighbourhood
4. This act can address the virtually impossible to resolve issue of ‘school drop-outs’- no child will be Failed or expelled till elementary education (class 8th) is completed.
5. The entire finance for the project will be shared between the State and Central government.
6. Private schools will be penalized for violating the RTE The responsibility for monitoring and reviewing the implementation of RTE has been handed over to National Commission for Protection of Rights of children (NCPCR) and NCPCR will do the monitoring with the help of its State Commission.

 

All International organizations like UNESCO & UNICEF have applauded this ground-breaking Act, RTE, which legalizes the right to free and compulsory education for all children between the ages of 6 and 14 in India. A majority % of the population that will be benefitted by this ACT would be the SC/ST and other backward classes and hence this act has the potential of taking us towards a equitable and Inclusive india. Enough effort has been made to Load the gun and hats off to the government for doing that! There are various issues which are creating a roadblock in smooth implementation of RTE.

I will discuss only few broader ones:

Education being a state subject, it is the duty of state government to make rules for implementation of any legislation relating to education. Two years of the RTE Act coming into force, only 10 out of the 27 states have taken a step towards making rules for implementing RTE. As many as seventeen states have not even taken a step in the direction of making use of a revolutionary legislation that has the power of turning around the situation of primary education in India. One area which clearly needs to be addressed is the inconsistencies between States in their implementation of the RTE. There is also no agreement on the Centre and the State on allocation of funds on elementary education. If Education is to be provided to all children between the ages 6 and 14, a huge number of teachers have to be recruited and there is a big gap on this count. One estimate says that atleast 14 lack teachers would be needed to fill the gap. Even these numbers can be achieved but it will happen only when a start is made. There is no plan in place to appoint them or atleast there is no urgency. We are not even talking on how these teachers will be trained once appointed. Am I being a little too optimistic here? Another issue is the possibility that school might increase fees for currently studying students as they will have to discount the 25% intake that they will have to compulsory take.

The schools have even involved the Parents of students currently studying and in quite a few cases these parents have become the Face of opposition to this ACT. These parents are lobbying on behalf of schools and even going to courts to get this stalled. Needless to say, they are playing into the vicious agenda of the schools. The government has to guarantee them that no abnormal fee increase will be allowed when this Act fully comes into place.. Another big issue is more of a social one and only a change of heart and a deep sense of inclusiveness can address it. We get to hear maximum number Of cases on ‘Admission denial’ and unfriendly admission procedures for these set of people. For the urban public schools, the idea that children of rich and poor will study together is unbearable. Isn’t this nothing but a form of discrimination?? Earlier they wanted to keep the SC/STs away and now they want to keep the Poor away(SC/ST/Other backward class students still constitute more than 85% of this). In their attempt to alienate, few schools have proposed afternoon shifts for the poor. Few schools are going overboard and claiming that with the interests of the poor in mind, they are denying admissions so that the difference in background might not create mental imbalance. On one pretext or the other, the schools are denying admissions to poor children. The rise of high-end private schools, especially in urban areas is nothing less than a discriminatory approach to education. This is a very exclusivist approach and the courts of this country should treat it at par with discrimination against backward classes. This agenda of the schools has to be addressed head-on as it will soon spiral into a vicious circle promoting discrimination to god knows what extent. More than the schools, the rich parents wanting a separate space for their children at schools is such a dangerous thought to the idea of an equitable and inclusive India.

 An dedicated Education Minister for this country can go a long way in ensuring good policies do get implemented. Law aside, there has to be public mobilization for such issues. Now my sincere appeal to all. Law will definitely take its own course and provide a level-playing field for these people. But a lot can be done by effective public mobilization on such issues. For all youngsters who are willing to take out huge bike processions at the drop of a hat or light expensive candles on slightest provocation, here is a chance to prove their worth and be counted. Even half the effort put in this will give the best of results and lots of satisfaction. For all the numerous Dalit organizations which are extremely active physically as well as on the internet, this is one agenda which if pursued aggressively and with utmost dedication, can really propel the deprived students of the community towards a much better future. Directionally, it will be a step in right direction with enrolments increasing manifolds and drop-out decreasing by a significant proportion. It is a powerful tool and we need to put dedicated effort to make effective use of it.

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For any critical comments; the auther can be reached at dsandeep4@rediffmail.com.He is based in New Delhi.</



One Response to “Exclusion in RTE 2010: Another POA in making!”

  1. Google “Communal Award”.
    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Communal_Award

    Without reservations you’re uneducated untouchables in India.
    With reservations you’re educated untouchables.

    Leeches will give lame excuses and are afraid to take their caste share of land and build their own nation.


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