Skip to main content

RTE in remote areas? Govt of India "plans" to close down 2.4 lakh schools

By Srijita Majumder*
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, came into effect on April 1, 2010, for the first time made it obligatory on the part of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 6-14 years of age in India. The Act, despite its limitations, had progressive elements like neighbourhood schools, community participation, ban on corporal punishment, no detention, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and it hence it appeared that India was not far from achieving universal elementary education.
The Act also had timelines for implementation, input norms like pupil teacher ratio, adequate infrastructure and hence there were a lot of aspirations for its successful implementation within the given timeline.
However, on the anniversary of the Act, if we look at the status of implementation of the act, we get a rather dismal picture. Right to Education Forum, a network of over 10,000 CSOs across 19 states, has been tracking the implementation of the Right to Education Act since its inception and recent trends tend to suggest that the RTE Act is at a risk of dilution. Some of the major concerns of the RTE Forum:
Slow progress in the implementation of the RTE Act
The ruling party in their election manifesto of 2014 had committed to this, however, while in 2013-14, 9% schools in India were complaint with the RTE Act and in 2016-17 there has been a mere 4% increase with only 12.7% schools complying with the Act. Hence, it evident that what was promised has certainly not been delivered.
Declining expenditure on education as a share of GDP
The first education commission in India, the Kothari commission had suggested back in 1966 that at least 6% of the GDP should be allocated for education. However, in 2017, the spending on education was 2.7% of the GDP.
Millions of children are still not in schools
As per the census of 2011, there were 84 million children between age group 5-17 years who were not in schools, while the MHRD report (IMRB) states that in 2014, 6.64 million children were out of school.
Acute shortage of teachers
Teachers play a very important role in shaping the minds of children. However, only 34.4% schools in India having the requisite number of teachers as per RTE norms. Added to this, more than 18% teachers do not have professional qualification. The situation of teacher training is also abysmal. Maximum teacher training institutes being run by private entities.
Online training of teachers through Swayam portal has not been successful with teachers raising the concern that recordings of lectures are not helping to clear concepts as scope for interaction and engagement is missing.
School closure
Large number of schools have been closed down or merged under the pretext of rationalisation and this is a pressing concern in India. The government at present is planning to close down 2,60,000 small government schools and this will have adverse effects on children coming from sparsely populated areas, hilly terrains, confict zones and economically backward families.
Closing down schools or merging them will be a violation of section 3.1 of the RTE Act that ensure free and compulsory education in neighbourhood schools. Over the last few years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of private schools in India. While government schools increased in numbers by less than 2%, private schools increased by 24.28%. On the other hand, enrolment in public schools declined by 8.5%, in private schools it increased by 24.42%.
Removal of No Detention policy from the Act
The year 2019 began on a grim note with the Upper House (Rajya Sabha) of the Indian Parliament passing the second amendment Bill, 2017 in The Right to Education, 2009 on 3rd January, 2019, thereby allowing the states to detain children in class V and VIII or retain the no detention policy. The reason proposed behind scrapping the no detention policy on grounds of adverse effect on the learning level is not backed by any evidence.
However, on the contrary, there are evidences suggesting that since the introduction of no detention policy (2010), there has been a decrease in the rate of dropouts from 8.61% in 2006-07 to 4.34% in 2014-15, retention rate has increased by 9% and the transition rate from primary to upper primary has increased by 7%.
To address these issues and to make education a prime political agenda in the upcoming general elections, RTE Forum along with two other networks: Campaign against Child Labour and Alliance for the Right to Early Childhood Development have launched a national campaign and have released the “Public Manifesto for the Education of India’s children” with major demands that include:
  • Complete implementation of the Right to Education Act 2009 in letter and spirit. 
  • Extension of the RTE Act to include all children from birth to 18 years. A major limitation of the RTE Act is that it includes children from only 6-14 years, leaving out millions of children from its purview and hence the demand. 
  • Revise declining expenditure of education as a share of GDP and bring it to at least 6% of the GDP as recommended by the Kothari Commission back in 1966. 
  • Complete eradication of all forms of child labour up to 18 years. 
Apart from these overarching demands there are other demands like:
  • Strengthening of School Management Committees to ensure community participation in education
  • Address inequality of education and move from a multi-layered education system towards the creation of a common school system. 
  • Social inclusion and provision for safe and secure school environment
  • Curbing the increasing commercialisation and privatisation of school education and strengthen the accountability of private schools
  • Addressing the issue of out of school children 
  • Strengthening of grievance redressal mechanisms.
We still have a long way to go to achieve universalisation of school education in India. Political will and commitment for strengthening of public education through the implementation of the Right to Education Act 2009 seems to be the only way to ensure free, safe, equitable, quality education for all.
---
*Research and Documentation Coordinator, Right to Education Forum

Comments

TRENDING

ISKCON UK 'clarifies' after virus infects devotees, 5 die due to big temple meet

By Rajiv Shah
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), United Kingdom (UK), has admitted that at least 21 of its devotees were infected because of the spread of the coronavirus amongst the UK devotee community following the March 12 funeral and March 15 memorial of the Bhaktivedanta Manor temple president, in which about 1,000 people participated. Regretting that five of the devotees have passed away, the top Hindu religious in Britain body does not deny more may have been infected.

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus scare ‘pushing’ people from Northeast India into more hardship

By Rishiraj Sinha, Biswanath Sinha*
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
***

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Gujarat construction workers walk home as Rs 2,900 crore welfare fund lies unused

By Our Representative
Situated behind the Gujarat University, some of the families of the migrant construction workers from Dahod and Panchmahals districts of Gujarat, and a few from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, who had stayed put in make-shift shanties in Ahmedabad’s sprawling GMDC Ground, have begun a long journey, by foot, back to their home villages in the eastern tribal belt of Gujarat.