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Left-wing education association opposes Right to Education Act, says RTE promotes private investors in India

By Our Representative
In an unusual move, the left-wing All-India Save Education Committee (AISEC), in its comprehensive critique of the Government of India’s proposed New Education Policy (NEP), has strongly opposed the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, declaring that it “straightaway paves the path for private investors” to get into the education of children and “legalizes” commercialization of education.
Claiming to uphold the cause of education and formed in 1989, AISEC – once led by late Justice VR Krishna Iyer, former Justice of the Supreme Court, and late Sushil Kumar Mukherjee, renowned scientist-educationist, and currently headed by Prof NA Karim , ex-vice chancellor, Kerala University – believes that emphasis on the RTE is being “wrongly placed by the present BJP-led Union government.”
The AISEC critique says that the RTE “does not cover all students, education at all levels even at the elementary stage”, pointing out that it has come “sequel of another flopped flagship programme of the former UPA government, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).”
Thus, while the RTE “pledges” to universalise elementary education” from standards 1 to 8, it “does not bother for children below 6 and above 14, the AISEC critique, which has been submitted to the Ministry of Human Resources, Government of India, as its views on NEP, says. It adds, the RTE, in fact, “abdicates the government from funding education at least at those stages”, wondering, “Who then will shoulder that responsibility?”
The critique underlines, the RTE in fact “straightaway” paves the path for private investors to get into the scene for “unchecked” privatization of pre-6 year education”, thus “legalizing” privatization and commercialization of education. It does so, even as the current BJP policymakers continue to “shed crocodile tears for mushrooming of pre-primary/ play school industry.”
Opposing the RTE for following the system of “multi-grade teaching with the labels ‘child-centred’ and ‘activity-oriented’ approach”, AISEC says, this was stipulated by such programmes like the District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) and SSA, both of whom are “offspring programmes of the World Bank and the International Monetery Fund (IMF).”
Pointing to how RTE refuses to promote quality education, AISEC says, “Forget about the few shining Kendriya Vidyalaya of the metropolis and other cities, in the vast hinterland of the country, a single teacher, maybe a para-teacher, appointed on contract basis, and figured as a ‘classroom manager’ (mind it, not class teacher) look after a number of classes, maybe even in a single room.”
It underlines, “These teachers are supposed to work for 45 hours a week, and would have to work for, as and when required and compulsorily, to do census duty, election duty, disaster relief work etc.; would have to prepare midday meals for students, keep accounts of the groceries, fuel and such other items, even chase after students across fields to lure them back to school. It befalls students to learn by themselves.”
Then, AISEC opposes RTE for legalizing the “no pass-fail system up to the level of class VIII”, and admitting students according to their age (a 14 year child to Class VIII) and “not according to his or her prevailing academic standard.”
Further, AISEC says RTE pertains to government-run or general aided schools alone. It notes, “high-priced” private controlled schools are “exempt” from all government controls and restrictions, making room for only the rich to enjoy the best of facilities for education. “They will get the best of amenities and will have the examination system for checking and improving performance.”
AISEC adds, “They will retain the class promotion system as usual. The RTE Act thus stands out as highly discriminatory giving way to catering to the Minimum Level Learning (MLL) education for a vast work force and Optimum Level Learning (OLL) education for a handful of elites from private schools.”
“The whole outreach programme for secondary level education in the proposed education policy, a programme for ‘near universalization of secondary education’ as a ‘logical next step’, hinges upon such a deceitful, discriminatory measure of the RTE that is detrimental to students, teachers and education as a whole”, AISEC believes.

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