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Only 12.7% schools comply with Right to Education, progress just 1% per year

Counterview Desk
A civil society report written in the shadow of the upcoming national elections, marking the completion of five years of the i.e Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), has sought to focus on its performance against the backdrop its Election Manifesto 2014 "Ek Bhatat Shreshtha Bharat… Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas", which made a number of commitments on education.
Analysing what was promised and what was delivered, the report says, "All major political parties gave considerable amount of space to education along with other issues of social welfare such as health, food and employment in their manifestoes", regretting, the present government's performce suggests, "It will take India another 87 years to make every school Righ to Education (RTE) compliant."
Pointing out that progress under RTE is "inching at an average of 1% per year", the report, prepared by Right to Education Forum, Campaign against Child Labour and Alliance for the Right to Early Childhood Development, says, "The upcoming national elections provide an opportunity for India’s citizens to demand that India’s leaders express their commitment to quality education from birth to 18 years of age and take concrete immediate steps to ensure improvement in its quality and equity education."
Insisting that "India can no longer permit the existing gross inequalities in the education system to persist; poor education must no longer be deemed acceptable for India’s development", the report says, the RTE Act, 2009, carried with it "dreams and aspirations of many who hoped for its successful implementation, as it was set out to correct years of injustice, discrimination, inequality and lack of opportunities."
Planning to launch a national campaign to demand the right to quality education for all children from birth until the age of 18 years and ensure an end to child labour, a civil society note on the report:
The 9th national stocktaking convention of RTE Act 2009 organized by the RTE Forum at the Constitution club of India brought together more than 450 education activists, academicians and researchers across the country working on children’s education. A report card of the progress on school education in general and RTE implementation in particular was shared. Some of the highlights of the same included:
  • Only 12.7% schools comply with the provisions of the RTE Act 
  • While the manifesto committed the government to spend 6% GDP on education, the investment never crossed 4%. Per child investment on school education lowest among BRICS countries. 
  • 18.8% teachers lack requisite academic qualifications as India stands at the threshold of the extended deadline for all teachers to gain formal qualifications by March 31, 2019. There are also approximately 10 lakh teacher vacancies in India. While the manifesto emphasized science popularization, only 50.3% secondary schools had a teacher who was at least a maths graduate
  • Despite the BJP Manifesto promising making all education institutions technology enabled, only 16% schools had a functional computer in 2016-17
  • Only 22% schools have disabled friendly toilets and these are not gender disaggregated - 56% of allocation on Flagship scheme on Girls’ Education “Beti Padhao Beti Bachao” has been spent on advertising. In 2019 these funds were further cut from an already inadequate Rs.255.9 crore to just Rs.100 crore
  • Government failed to deliver on its promise of a New Education Policy at the end of five years
  • Lack of emphasis on foundational investments in early childhood education which is critical for universalization of education till secondary level as promised in the manifesto 
  • Progressive dilution to the RTE legislation through three amendments, including the abrogation of the centre’s responsibility to ensure no child is detained. 
The upcoming General Elections 2019, give a big opportunity to India’s citizens to demand right to education for all children from birth to 18 years from their political leaders.
Setting the context at the consultation Ambarish Rai, National Convener, RTE Forum said, “This is a watershed moment where citizens have to come together to ensure education becomes a prime agenda for the elections. Governments must take steps to compensate for almost a decade of inaction on ensuring the right to education.”
Prof Narendra Jadhav, MP, Rajya Sabha, said that, “education in at the heart of the process of social transformation and empowerment of India’s marginalized communities. It is critical to strengthen India’s schools to ensure every child receives quality education”.

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