Skip to main content

Right to Education Act "isn't inclusive", it segregates Dalit, Adivasi, Muslim children, is undermining govt schools

By Rajiv Shah
Taking strong objection to the Right to Education (RTE) Act, a new book, seeking to provide a future vision of different social sectors, carries a strongly-worded paper which says that the much-celebrated law has not only failed to provide universal access to free education. Worse, it argues, within five years of its implementation, the legislation is being effectively used to "weaken the public education system further."
Running into 683 pages, the book, "Alternative Futures: India Unshackled", has been edited by two well-known environmental experts working on development, environment interface, biodiversity policy and alternatives, Ashish Kothari and KJ Joy, and carries 35 articles by top experts in their field.
The one on education, "Future Learning in Indian Schools", by Rajesh Khindri and Tultul Biswas, both of whom have worked on pedagogic issues at several places, including the Hoshangabad Science Teaching Programme, Madhya Pradesh, disagree that the RTE Act is "inclusive", it seeks to provide 25 per cent seats of private schools to be earmarked for children who cannot pay.
"We won't go into the issue of percentages, numbers etc.", say Khindri and Biswas. "In many states, governments are trying to ensure that this quota is utilised to the maximum -- which results in shutting/scaling down or merging of government schools", adding, "In actual fact, it (RTE) seems to have pushed the government schools towards further hegemonising, catering to the system (of parents) that has no social or political voice to influence the school in any way."
They add, "And, on the other hand, private schools try to ward off this intrusion by trying to segregate these students in separate classes or even separate school shifts, by insisting on various kinds of additional expenses that the family has to incur in terms of dress, shoes, books, excursion fees... and by use of social exclusion through the medium of instruction."
To substantiate, the authors give data, pointing towards how the reality "continues to remain grim", more than 47 lakh children out of school in rural areas and 13 lakh in urban neighborhoods.
"The scenario", say the authors, "Appears even more alarming when viewed through the caste or religious lens." A report prepare by the Social and Rural Research Institute suggests that "three out of every four children out of school are Dalit, Muslim or Adivasi. A closer look at the available data reveal that over 32 per cent of those out of schools are Dalits and over 16 per cent belong to the Adivasi communities."
The authors add, "According to the same report, 4.43 per cent of Muslim children were found to be out of school, significantly higher than the national average of 2.97 per cent across relations."
"Thus", they say, "Although official figures claim that only six million children remain out of school and the dropout rate in schools has started showing a drop, an analysis of the profile of children still out of school reflects the fact that we are far from achieving the goal of inclusive education."
Khindri and Biswas say, things have reached such a point that there is even segregation among private schools: "Now there seems to be a continuum starting from the extremely high fee paying private schools affiliated to international boards that charge several thousand rupees per month, down to private schools that charge that charge hundred rupees a month and are meant for populace that can hardly spare that much."
They add, "Government schools, situated at the lower-most fringe of the continuum, have today become extremely homogeneous as they as they increasingly serve only children from the scheduled castes (SCs), scheduled tribes (STs) and girls, with few children from the other backward castes (OBCs) and those belonging to the general category."
This situation, the authors say, stands in sharp contrast to what had happened during the first 40 years of Independence, when "large public sector enterprises and inclusive townships provided a space wherein children (and families) from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds log d side by side and this provided an environment rich in diversity, in settlements as well as learning spaces."
The authors regret, "That has also shrunk drastically and almost disappeared today".

Comments

TRENDING

Contempt of court? UP CM taking 'personal vendetta' against Dr Kafeel Khan: Activists

Counterview Desk
Demanding that the Uttar Pradesh government immediately release well-known paediatrician Dr Kafeel Khan, a group of more than 100 academicians, activists, researchers, doctors and lawyers have said in an open letter that he is being “targeted at the behest of the chief minister”, wondering, “When is an act of challenging the government a threat under the National Security Act (NSA)?”

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

ASI has 'no funds' to protect five centuries old Goa church, a World Heritage Site

Counterview Desk
The century-old All-India Catholic Union (AICU), the largest Laity movement in Asia, has blamed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for neglecting the historic Bom Jesu church by keeping its ceilings  open to the vagaries weather, with no steps  taken to protect the five century old monument from damage on account of impending rains on the lame excuse that there are "no funds". In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, AICU simultaneously asks the Government of India to devise a "comprehensive" national social security safety net, universal health Insurance and medical Infrastructure so that the “calamity” that has befalenl millions of migrant labour and jobless rural and urban poor in “the Covid pandemic-driven lockdown is “never repeated.”

Withdraw sedition charges against three young women activists: 1100 feminists

Counterview Desk
About 1,100 feminists from all over India – organisations and individuals across religion, class, caste, ethnicity, ability, sexuality and genders – have issued a solidarity statement condemning what they have called “the targeted crackdown on Muslims and women activists in Delhi”, who were at the forefront of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Will Govt of India, ICMR end 'perverse' practice of extracting profits from ill-health?

By Asmita Verma, Surabhi Agarwal, Bobby Ramakant*
The Epidemics Act, 1897 gives the central and state governments authority to impose any regulations which may be necessary to contain the outbreak of a disease. Some state governments such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhatisgarh have already used this power to bring private healthcare facilities in their state under government control.

Tablighis or Namaste Trump? Rupani must 'clarify' on origin of Covid-19 in Gujarat

By Mujahid Nafees* In his video communication on April 24, 2020, chief minister Vijay Rupani informed us that in the month of March the Gujarat government had quarantined 6,000 people returning from abroad in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 pandemic. He further asserted that the spread of Covid-19 was caused by the tablighis returning from Nizamuddin in Delhi. His statements were widely publicized and given front page coverage by some local dailies.

Coping with Covid-19? Options before small, marginal farmers of rainfed regions

By Biswanath Sinha, Kuntal Mukherjee*
The global crisis due to Covid-19 has hit after reaching in western Europe. India’s response to curtail the spread of the disease was quite decisive. It announced a Janata curfew on the March 22, followed by a complete national lockdown from the midnight of March 24.

'Violation' of migrant workers' human rights: Legal notice to IIM-A director, govt babus

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to the police action against protesting migrant workers off the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) on May 18, senior Gujarat High Court advocate Anandvardhan Yagnik, in a legal notice to the IIM-A director "on their behalf" has said that the workers had only been seeking to to go back to their home states, Jharkhand and West Bengal, for the last more than 20 days because they were not paid their “earned wages because of the lockdown.”