Saturday, April 5, 2014

Chaos, controversy over nursery admission test patience of parents

Chaos, controversy over nursery admission test patience of parents

Written by Shikha Sharma | New Delhi | March 17, 2014 1:11 am
Parents queue up for nursery admission forms at a city school. (Express Archive) Parents queue up for nursery admission forms at a city school. (Express Archive)

Summary

In 2013, the Delhi High Court ruled that the RTE Act was not admissible with respect to nursery admissions beyond the 25 per cent EWS seats.
What set the nursery admission season this year apart from past years was the unprecedented participation of parents in the litigation process. As the admission season drags on, dissatisfaction over the new guidelines remains. While schools blame the ‘government’s tyrannical approach’ for the confusion, the latter blames ‘vested interests for creating hurdles in the way of implementation of a common, fair policy’. SHIKHA SHARMA & Ujala Chowdhry report
It has been a particularly tumultuous time for parents seeking nursery admission for their children this year. A completely new set of rules — and ensuing litigation on its different aspects, first by schools and then by various sets of parents — meant that the admission process saw more chaos and controversy than ever before. As the admission season drags on, dissatisfaction over the new guidelines remain. While schools blame the “government’s tyrannical approach” for the confusion, the government blames “vested interests for creating hurdles for implementation of a common, fair policy”.
“When fresh nursery guidelines were announced in December 2013, everyone appreciated the new guidelines, except the private schools — which was understandable since the guidelines quashed management quota. But then, different sets of aggrieved parents started going to court. While some had genuine concerns, there were also a lot of vested interests. So, the process, engulfed in litigation, kept delaying itself till we reached where we are now,” Padmini Singla, Director, Directorate of Education, said.
According to Singla, “excessive litigation, so close to dates of admission, coupled with anxious parents looking to get their children ‘admitted in the top 50 schools in the city’ compounded the problem”.
This year, Lt-Governor Najeeb Jung made radical changes to nursery admission guidelines, completely taking away schools’ discretionary powers and setting up a uniform point system — one which gave maximum emphasis to neighbourhood, besides allotting points for sibling, alumni and inter-transfer cases.
  
to help us personalise your reading experience.
“Till last year, every school had its own criteria. This year, we formed a common criteria. It was totally new. Anything new takes time to settle with the public. That time was very less, leading to confusion and chaos amongst parents. That said, the guidelines were made with the right intentions and are an improvement over the arbitrary point system schools were subjecting parents to,” she said.
However, the schools disagree — blaming failure on the part of the government to consult all stakeholders for the chaos instead. “The government cannot take major policy decisions on its own. It should have consulted the advisory board, school bodies and academicians before coming out with a decision. These guidelines are against the principle of autonomy, under which unaided private schools have been given the power by the central government to formulate their own admission criteria for 75 per cent of the seats. The government’s thoughtless decisions have brought us to the position we are standing in,” Ameeta Mulla Wattal, Principal, Springdales School, Pusa Road, said.
Absence of a stable government also played a role in bringing out “half-baked guidelines”, says Sumit Vohra, founder,  Admissionsnursery.com, a portal representing city parents. “Let us not forget that in the absence of a stable government, the L-G was under pressure to come up with a set of new guidelines… Social Jurist had already made a representation to the L-G to fix admission norms, which was followed by a High Court direction,” he said.
The process for nursery admissions has been embroiled in litigation for the last few years. In 2007 and in 2010, lawyer-activist group Social Jurist had challenged the government’s decision to allow schools to allot points, arguing that inclusion of any category beyond neighbourhood and draw of lots went against the spirit of the Right to Education (RTE) Act.
In 2013, the Delhi High Court ruled that the RTE Act was not admissible with respect to nursery admissions beyond the 25 per cent EWS seats. The judgment was challenged and the matter is pending in the Supreme Court. The guidelines by the L-G came to force after Social Jurist made a representation to Jung to come up with a new order.
However, what set this admission season apart from the rest was unprecedented participation of parents in the litigation process. Five sets of parents, who had never been to court, took the legal route. “It has never happened before. But, it’s a good sign. The fact that so many parents can organise themselves, knock the doors of court and demand their rights,” lawyer Khagesh Jha of Social Jurist said.
According to lawyer Ashok Agarwal of Social Jurist, “The very fact that parents are not trying to pay their way for a seat and instead knocking the court’s door is a welcome sign.”
“In totality, there are no dearth of seats in city schools. But when everyone is looking to get their children into the ‘so-called best schools’ in the city, it is then we have a problem. And frankly, the problem will continue till the problem of supply and demand is solved,” D R Saini, Principal, DPS, R K Puram, said.
“The most that can be done is to put caps on alumni, sibling and other criteria. Having categories apart from neighbourhood will always be discriminatory and contested against,” Agarwal said.
Tough battle for parents of kids with special needs
The three-and-half-year-old boy wakes up at 7.30 in the morning, attends a therapy centre near his house, comes back at 12.30 and is again sent to various centres for different kinds of therapies. The boy was born with Down syndrome. His parents are facing a tough battle for his nursery admission in Delhi.
Post December 18, 2013, guidelines passed by Lt-Governor Najeeb Jung for admissions to nursery, the silent minority of parents of Children With Special Needs (CWSN) have been running around the national capital for admissions to a decent school, which has proper infrastructure to take care of mentally challenged children. “In this city of 917 schools, only 43 have some infrastructure to accommodate our kids. Out of which, there are only a couple, which are actually willing to take our kids in, rest are just trying to evade us. It doesn’t take a lot of infrastructure to make special arrangements in schools for our kids,” his mother said.
The High Court on February 26 this year passed an order that private schools should work out a separate 3 per cent quota to accommodate these children.
Before the L-G’s guidelines for nursery admissions, the CWSN group had a separate draw of lots for admissions. But now as per the guidelines, there is a 25 per cent reservation in all schools for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Disadvantaged Groups (DG); both these sections are subjected to a common draw of lots. “This has significantly reduced the chances of children with mental and physically disabilities to compete for a spot in good schools,” she said.
Paying Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000 per month on special care, these parents have their own battles to fight everyday. “There is a 70 per cent chance of recovery for our kids if they mingle with normal kids of their age,” another parent, whose four-year-old son suffers from autism, said.
In Old Delhi, they run out of admission options
He lives in the heart of the city. He has applied to 18 schools in and around his area, but hasn’t been able to secure admission for his four-year-old daughter in even one of them. Nursery admissions are a time of difficulty for city parents — more so, for parents in Old Delhi.
This year, the problem seems to have been compounded on account of where they stay. “There are hardly any good schools in this area. Till last year, a parent could apply to as many schools as possible. But the eight-km distance criteria has meant that this year we have limited options,” Asif Iqbal, who stays near Turkman Gate, said.
According to information provided by the Directorate of Education, there are a total of 28 private schools in Central Delhi and 13 in the New Delhi area. Of these, around 10 are minority institutions, free to devise their own rules.
“Not that we have many options every year but this year, thanks to the neighbourhood criteria, the options are even less,” Muhammad Aslam said.
Aslam is struggling to get his daughter enrolled in a good school. “I have applied in schools in Central Delhi and a few in Noida. But, I am not very keen on sending my four-year-old as far as Noida,” he said.
For some like Furqan Khan, an EWS parent, the odds are stacked even higher. “The rules mean that I have to locate a school for my daughter in Old Delhi only. I have applied to seven-eight schools, but haven’t heard from even one,” he said.
Residents say that “proving one is an EWS parent is an ordeal in itself because of the difficulty in getting residential certificates made”. “Most of us don’t have permanent residential proof. Our houses are registered in the names of our ancestors and setting the paperwork right takes time. Schools don’t have that kind of time,” Imran Khan said.
While some like Furqan Khan are contemplating enrolling their children in playschools, others are thinking of “home-schooling their children”. “What option do we have? We can’t even ask the government to build more schools here because the area is too congested to build a proper school,” Khan said. “Galli mohalle ke school mein hee padhana padega bachhon ko (We’ll have to enroll our children in the street schools,” he said.
(Ujala Chowdhry)

Zilla Parishad helpline gets lukewarm response

Kolhapur: The primary education department of the Kolhapur zilla parishad (ZP) has received merely four calls from beneficiaries over the last four days after introducing its helpline for the admission process under the 25% quota of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009.

The ZP had launched the helpline number earlier this week for RTE beneficiaries in case they face any problems with the admission procedure. Admission to reserved seats under the RTE Act is meant for students from socially and economically backward classes.

An education department official said on the condition of anonymity that lack of proper awareness about the helpline as well as the admission procedure is the main cause of the department having received a lukewarm response.

Anuradha Bhosale, vice-chairman of a non-governmental organization (NGO) that works for school education, Avani, told TOI, "The department should make sure the helpline number reaches the grass root level, which means people whose kids could get admission under the 25% quota scheme. We are talking about parents who cannot afford heavy educational expenses for their wards. How can they contact concerned authorities unless they are not themselves aware about the helpline number? The department is not making efforts that would actually help these people. It is just completing the formality."

Bhosale added that the department is ill-prepared about the admission procedure. It should reach out to slum areas and arrange better awareness campaigns.

A city-based school principal told TOI on the condition of anonymity, "Many parents do not reach out to schools with better education facilities. An inferiority complex, lack of awareness and many other reasons play a major role in the 25% seats being vacant despite lack of financial burden on the beneficiary." Earlier, the Kolhapur ZP primary education officer had asked all block development officers to commence admissions under the 25% RTE quota at the block level.

Parents or beneficiaries with queries or complaints can contact the ZP on the helpline number 18002331215 from 10am to 5pm during weekdays.

Govt. to hold special camps to admit out-of-school children

Govt. to hold special camps to admit out-of-school children

Special Correspondent
Share  ·   Comment   ·   print   ·   T+  

They will be held in villages and taluks during the third and fourth week of March

The State government on Monday told the High Court of Karnataka that special admission camps would be held in villages and taluks during the third and fourth week of March to admit out-of-school children to nearby schools.
A submission in this regard was made by the government counsel during the hearing of a public interest litigation petition initiated suo motu by the court last year based on a newspaper report about children remaining out of school despite the Right to Education Act.
Meanwhile, the government also told the court that around 30,000 children had been admitted to various private schools under the 25 per cent quota of the RTE Act for the ensuing academic year.
It was also submitted on behalf of the government that the RTE Rules were being amended to bring down number of school dropouts.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice B.V. Nagarathna, which is hearing the petition, adjourned further hearing till April 8, while orally asking the State to ensure that the school dropout rate came down to zero. The government would have to take appropriate steps to achieve this task, it said.
Notice to government
In another case, the Bench on Monday ordered issue of notice to the State government and the Lokayukta on a PIL petition, which alleged that special deputy commissioners were illegally exercising powers on appeals and revisions about disputes on mutation entries under the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964.
In their petitions, freedom fighters H.S. Doreswamy and Suresh Chandra Babu alleged that the special DCs were illegally exercising powers even after the government in October 2011 entrusted only deputy commissioners to deal with appeals or revision under Section 136 (3) of the Act.
Despite this directive, more than 1,000 appeals had been dealt with by special DCs in Bangalore and as many as 680 appeals had been dealt with by a single officer occupying this post, the petitioner alleged.
The Bench ordered issue of notice to the Lokayukta on a oral request made by the petitioners’ counsel, while pointing out that an investigation ordered by the High Court in 2011 against special DC Ramanjaneya and others was closed by the Lokayukta in November last year citing that there was no complainant.
The court also ordered issue of notice to several officials who had occupied the post of special DC in Bangalore Urban district, including the incumbents.

SSA officials track down dropouts in Udupi, re-enrol them

SSA officials track down dropouts in Udupi, re-enrol them

Special Correspondent
Share  ·   Comment   ·   print   ·   T+  
SLIDING AWAY: SSA survey reveals that some children dropped out because their school was far, some to help parents in farm and many have migrated.
The Hindu SLIDING AWAY: SSA survey reveals that some children dropped out because their school was far, some to help parents in farm and many have migrated.

Of 812 dropouts in Udupi, 199 are back in class

As many as 812 children dropped out of the schools in Udupi district in 2013-14. As per the Right to Education (RTE) Act, all children between 6 and 14 years have to be provided free and compulsory education.
This figure of 812 out-of-school children is high compared to the past two years — 123 dropouts in 2012-13 and 86 in 2011-12. But in 2011-12 and 2012-13, the dropouts were based only on field survey.
This year (2013-14), in addition to field survey, the officials of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) verified the school records. The verification involved checking if transfer certificates were taken by the students.
P. Nagaraj, Deputy Project Coordinator of SSA, said of a total 1,008 children who dropped out in the district, 13 had died, while 183 names were found to be repeated. This meant that 812 students had dropped out. Of this 812 students, 439 had migrated to other districts and places with their parents.
The officials went and traced 199 dropouts and their parents and convinced them to return to schools. “As a result, 199 children had been enrolled in schools in the district. We will trace and convince the remaining 174 students and get them admitted to the nearby schools in April or May. These students will be given three months training under Chinnara Angala programme,” Mr. Nagaraj said.
Under Chinnara Angala, an intensive form of the curriculum is taught after which the children are enrolled in the appropriate regular classes.
The Udupi district SSA has given the names of 439 migrated children to its State office to check if these children have enrolled themselves in schools in other places.
The SSA had also done a survey of why the students had dropped out of the schools. “Some children had dropped out because the school was far, some to help their parents in household work and agriculture. Many children had migrated to other places with their parents,” Mr. Nagaraj said.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Complaints of RTE violations pile up


Complaints of RTE violations pile up



NEW DELHI: Over the four years since Right to Education Act was implemented, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has received more than 3,800 complaints of RTE violations. Fewer than half of them-41.25%-have been resolved. The national commission is the apex body for monitoring RTE implementation in the country.

Data obtained through an RTI query filed by activist Rashmi Gupta shows that, while the number of cases coming to the commission has declined drastically over the years-there were 1,177 in 2010-11 and 174 in 2013-14, it has amassed a massive backlog of cases. Activists believe decrease in number of cases being reported is because of the slow pace of resolution. "These figures illustrate that people have lost hope in the commission leading to a phenomenal decrease in the number of complaints," Gupta says.

NCPCR chairperson Kushal Singh, however, says that the decrease in numbers is because most states have started state-level commissions since 2010.

"Also, as a matter of policy, we transfer to the state commissions many complaints that are easier for them to deal with because they are on the spot," she says. The transferred ones are not counted in the data furnished in the RTI reply. NCPCR now handles mainly "infrastructure and policy-related complaints" or complaints of "inter-departmental issues". Individual complaints are moved to the state commissions.

But the backlog, concedes Singh, is a problem. "There is definitely a backlog and it's not acceptable. We are not paying attention to this because, if a complaint was filed in 2010, the resolution has no validity if it's coming in 2014," says Singh. There are still 484 open cases from the 2010-11 batch of complaints. "We send the complaint to the state and sometimes replies are unduly delayed. Depending on their responses, action is taken. It's not practical to use summons proceedings for every complaint," she adds.

Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights has a better record-it's closed over 85% cases. Gupta also asked for information on funds going to the RTE cells of NCPCR and DCPCR. The funds for NCPCR's RTE cell has increased from Rs 278.76 lakh in 2010-2011 to Rs 653.38 lakh in 2013-2014.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Rahul Gandhi's Amethi worst performer in RTE norms

Rahul Gandhi's Amethi worst performer

in RTE norms

Isha Jain, TNN | Mar 17, 2014, 02.20AM IST
LUCKNOW: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi may be promising employment to youth, but education standards at grassroots level in his constituency, Amethi, are the worst in Uttar Pradesh. Only 1% schools in Amethi comply with the Right to Education Act (RTE), lowest in the state, reveals a study conducted by RTE forum.

Countrywide figures, too, are unimpressive. Only 8% schools have complied with the RTE norms despite the deadline for its implementation ending about a year ago.

The study, based on nine RTE indicators, shows average performance by UP in comparison to bigger states (in terms of population). In UP, only 7.5% schools are following RTE norms. Maharashtra, with 20.1% schools, is the best among the big states followed by Karnataka (18.2%), Tamil Nadu (17.3%) and Gujarat (17%).

Even though new classrooms have come up, 59.67% of children study in schools that still fail to meet the pupil-teacher norms. The mechanism for redressal of complaints is also weak, says study.

The RTE Forum says that while the RTE Act mandates that all teachers in the country are to be trained by 2015, there are still 6.6 lakh untrained teachers in the country, while five lakh teaching posts are vacant. UP alone needs 3 lakh teachers - maximum in the country - in schools, Union ministry of human resource development said. Other states facing acute shortage of teachers are Bihar (2.60 lakh) and West Bengal (1 lakh).

Forum convenor Ambarish Rai said, "Irrespective of the party in power, no state has fully implemented RTE. Starting from north to south, east to west, the situation is bleak. Be it Gujarat or Maharashtra, UP or Karnataka, RTE indicators are hardly being followed." At the fourth national stocktaking convention, where the report was released, he said the trend is the same everywhere.

He added that they have released the report ahead of Lok Sabha elections because inadequate facilities in schools have angered people. "They want quality education high on agenda of the political parties," he said.

RTE indicators used in the study included drinking water supply, ramp, boundary wall, playground, library, girls and boys toilet, teacher-classroom ratio, student-classroom ratio and people-teacher ratio.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Rahul-Gandhis-Amethi-worst-performer-in-RTE-norms/articleshow/32167064.cms

Education scenario in state bleak: Report

PATNA: Bihar needs nearly twice the number of teachers currently in service to achieve the national pupil teacher ratio (PTR) and the RTE (right to education) norm of 30:1. In fact, only 16% teachers at the panchayat level are trained. Around 60,000 schools in the state do not have a permanent campus and not even 3% of the school management committees (SMCs) are actively involved in planning and development work.

According to a survey on 'Implementation of RTE Act in Bihar', conducted in 375 schools of Bihar by State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and UNICEF, the education scenario of the state is not rosy. The survey further reveals that student classroom ratio (SCR) across schools in Bihar was 82, much higher than the all India figure of 30:1. And, students' attendance at schools stood at almost 63% only.

The survey report was tabled on Tuesday in the presence of the state education minister, P K Shahi, who admitted that education sector had a number of shortcomings. But, according to him, several significant steps have been taken by the government in the last two years for the implementation of RTE. "Enrolment of girls in Bihar is higher than that of boys at 51.35%. Nearly 1.42 lakh additional classrooms are required and we have built over 3,000 classrooms in the last four months. Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) scheme is implemented in nearly 83% of the schools," said Shahi.

However, the education department is likely to appoint nearly 95,000 teachers by November and, thus, bring down the PTR that currently stands at 57:1. "Since many prospective teachers have not cleared the TET, we are unable to fill all the vacant posts. We are thinking about how to fill these vacancies," said Amarjeet Sinha, principal secretary of the department.

In fact, in the wake of Saran midday meal tragedy, Sinha said separate funds would be routed to SMCs for maintaining cleanliness of toilets and kitchen sheds. The department has also devised a six-month enrichment programme for training teachers who are in service. "The first batch of 34,000 teachers would soon get certification from NCTE and the second batch of 66,000 teachers would start training under the programme from September 5," he said.

The report adds that much is desired for infrastructure development, training of teachers and devising suitable pedagogy, constitution of SMCs, and creating a child-friendly educational environment in the schools. Cleanliness of toilets and kitchen sheds is also a central issue.

In fact, state project director of Bihar Education Project Council (BEPC) Rahul Singh said, "If the government is not giving affiliation to private schools for lack of infrastructure, government schools should also be judged on the same parameters, or else norms should be relaxed for private schools as well."

RTE Act: Playing truant, a bitter game

RTE Act: Playing truant, a bitter game

Puja Pednekar, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, August 28, 2013
First Published: 02:46 IST(28/8/2013) | Last Updated: 02:49 IST(28/8/2013)
Only 1,165 children in the state have never attended school, according to Maharashtra government records. And while you may be surprised by the paltry figure, officials from the state education department are not.
Getting the children to schools is not the problem, they say. Keeping them there is.
The landmark Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009 has helped bring more children to schools, but has not been able to control truancy and dropout rates yet, experts believe.
“When our employees try to put children selling wares or begging on the streets in schools, they show us certificates proving they have already been enrolled in one,” said a senior education official from the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, which is the main vehicle for the implementation of the RTE Act.
So, the children are students only on paper. The reality is that after enrolling, they often remain absent from classes for long periods. Family problems, including migration or pressure to earn a livelihood are the main deterrents, and in the case of girls, dropping out after puberty is common.
Activists said the government had failed to address the problems of such students. “The government has many schemes for such children on paper, but can’t implement them for lack of funds,” said Farida Lambay, founder-director of Pratham, an NGO. Making matters worse, government-run and municipal schools do not offer seamless education even at the elementary level. While the RTE Act stipulates that elementary education is from Class 1 to Class 8, most civic schools only teach till Class 7. 
“Many children do not bother to secure admission or end up not attending another school after completing Class 7 as they cannot afford to pay the fees or the schools are far away from their homes,” said Anil Bornare, secretary of the Maharashtra State Teachers Association.
To solve this problem, the RTE Act stipulates the revision of the elementary education cycle to bridge the gap. The government had announced that they will reshuffle classrooms so that all schools teach till Class 8. More than 82,000 schools were surveyed for this purpose in 2012, but no concrete steps have been taken yet. The latest GR issued by the government has not made any changes in the elementary cycle.
Also, there are no strong mechanisms in place to monitor children’s admission, attendance or whether they complete their elementary education. “According to the [RTE] Act, teachers are supposed to keep an eye on children who have been absent for a long time. They are supposed meet the parents and ensure that the children are brought back to school,” Bornare said. But teachers are bogged down with their teaching duties and other work such as elections and census, leaving little time to monitor students, he added.

Free hostels could keep childrenin school

Mumbai: More free hostels could help bring down the dropout rate for children of migrant workers.
While there are 13 such hostels run by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan for elementary schools in the state, Mumbai does not have a single one.
Residential schools in place are the Kasturba Gandhi Bal Vidyalayas (KGBV) for girls belonging to economically and socially weaker sections studying in the upper-primary level.
But hostels for children in elementary schools are the need of the hour.
“Migration affects the child’s education. The families cannot afford to enroll the child in a school each time they migrate and even if they do, there is no way to guarantee continuity in education. We need to build many free residential hostels for these children,” said a senior education official from the SSA, Mumbai division.
The official said the SSA had proposed building such hostels in the city, but they were denied permission by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). “The BMC rejected the proposal citing lack of funds. However, we are still in talks with the civic body over it,” the official added.
Even the Right to Education Act (2009) does not cover boarding schools or residential schools. “Such schools are out of the purview of the act, so there is no pressure on the government to build them. They are being completely neglected,” said Jayant Jain, president of the Forum For Fairness in Education, a city not-for-profit that takes up such causes.
Unfortunately, some of the hostels that do exist in Maharashtra are in a pitiable state as allotted funds are being misused, claims Jain. The forum had filed a PIL last year, alleging a Rs75-crore scam in the temporary accommodation under the SSA scheme at Jawahar in Thane district.
The NGO took up the matter when one of the respondents to the petition, Kavita Pandhare, an extension officer in the department of education, was appointed to investigate the issue.
“Pandhare had only two days to investigate and found out that there were no schools in the addresses provided by SSA. In some places there were buildings constructed for hostels, but no provisions inside the buildings, and in one school there were only 12 students, all of whom were bogus,” added Jain.
He said that the calculations proved that funds up to Rs75 crore shown as spent on the project had been misappropriated by government officials.

‘Why would kids want to go to such schools?’
Mumbai: More than 90% schools in the state do not have 10 basic facilities listed as mandatory under the RTE Act, including separate toilets for girls and boys, safe drinking water and playgrounds.
In fact, many schools in the state do not even have five of the ten provisions, a report by Unicef pointed out.
The Right to Education Act (2009) stipulates that all schools have to be equipped with at least 10 facilities given in its schedule by 2013. These include basic facilities, infrastructure and pupil-teacher ratios. Schools have been given an extension till October to get these in order or they will be derecognised.
The story is no better in Mumbai, where 1,600 out of 1,703 schools have not fulfilled norms such as infrastructure facilities, principals’ rooms, toilets, drinking water, playgrounds and kitchen sheds.
According to the latest Unified District Information System for Education (U-DISE), only 54.33% primary schools in the state have an electricity connection, and only 44.51% of all schools have computers, while only 13.91% have computer-aided learning facilities
The question experts are asking is: Why would students come to such abysmal schools?
“Looking at some of the civic schools makes you feel like they are still in the  18th century. Just offering mid-day meals is not going to attract a child to school,” said Prashant Redij, president of the State Principals’ Association, Mumbai chapter.
Farida , founder-director of Pratham, said that schools continue to be in such a state even three years since the RTE was implemented because school management committees (SMCs) are not functioning properly.  Such committees should comprise parents and teachers and produce child-friendly school development plans. 
But only 5.19% government schools have constituted SMCs, states the U-DISE report.
The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA), which is the main vehicle for implementing the RTE, has conducted training programmes to train SMCs. “It is a challenge to explain the scope of the SMC  to parents of civic and government school children as they are not educated,’’ said a senior official from the SSA, requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to talk to the media. 
 However, large-scale training programmes are being conducted to sensitise parents , where they are told how they can improve the school so that their children can also get access to better quality education, the official added. 

BMC schools at Govandi deny admission to slum children

BMC schools at Govandi deny admission to slum children

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, August 27, 2013
First Published: 17:30 IST(27/8/2013) | Last Updated: 18:17 IST(27/8/2013)
The BMC school at Rafiq Nagar stands testimony to the blatant non-compliance of schools with the 2009 Right to Education (RTE) Act, which provides for 25% reservation in all government-aided and specified schools as well as private schools for ‘ disadvantaged’ students from around the school’s neighbourhood.

After much convincing from NGOs, when parents from the slums of Rafiq Nagar line up at the BMC school for admissions, they return disappointed. Many parents, though illiterate, are often accompanied by NGO representatives or some educated person from the area, reminding the school of its obligation to give their children admission in accordance with the RTE Act, to which school authorities often turn a deaf ear.
“We have been taking children from our school, after training them with basic language and math, to enrol in BMC schools, but the administration always turns us down, stating reasons like ‘full classrooms’ or ‘ child won’t be able to cope up with studies’, etc,” said Fr Paul, director, Karunya trust, an NGO that runs ‘Gyaansathi’ an informal school.
Shashi Joshi, principal, Rafiq Nagar BMC School, argued that the children from the dump yard brought in by NGOs have never received a formal education and often create a ruckus in school, owing to their ‘upbringing’. “We have no problem admitting these kids to our school. But, as they have no knowledge of basics, it becomes embarrassing for us during inspection time. They make the school look bad,” said Joshi.
In addition to denying admission, the formation of the mandatory school management committee (SMC) too is incomplete. Under the RTE Act, all public schools have to form a management committee with representation from parents, teachers and activists from NGOs, and work just the way Parent-Teacher Associations do in private schools. It has the responsibility of looking over education and quality of hygiene, attendance of teachers, stationery distribution etc.
“We have been trying to get the school to register educated parents from the slums as candidates for SMC elections. But nothing has been done,” said Rose Joseph, project manager, Karunya Trust.
The 25% reservation rule was implemented for government-aided private schools as well. However, Jafri School, one of the largest private schools in Shivaji Nagar, has persistently denied admission to children living in slums. “People who come for admissions do so in the middle of the year. A certain protocol needs to be followed. We can’t break this,” said Ajex Verghese, principal.

Book scam: Minister formed panel, says DEO

Prabhjit Singh, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, August 27, 2013
First Published: 09:27 IST(27/8/2013) | Last Updated: 11:14 IST(27/8/2013)
The Jindal Commission on Monday concluded the task of recording the evidence of all three suspended officials in the book scam case, with the submission of suspended district education officer (DEO) Vinod Kumar, who admitted to having tendered the supply of library books to the Mansa firm in question.

The very tendering procedure had come under the scanner of a central team that visited the state to look into the matter as the funds used to pay for the books were the central grants under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).
The suspended DEO appeared before the commission on Monday and signed his statement, stating that education minister Sikander Singh Maluka had formed the three-member committee for purchases in the education department. He also explained the award of the tender to the Mansa-based firm, Friends Enterprise.
The education minister had significantly stated earlier that he had not formed the committee to make purchases but to monitor and keep the purchases in check.
The one-man Commission of Inquiry headed by retired district and sessions judge AN Jindal is yet to summon the minister and the principal secretary, school education, who had suspended the three officials after a separate departmental inquiry.
Vinod, along with other committee members, director public instructions (DPI) elementary education Pritpal Kaur and Punjab School Education Board finance officer Gurtej Singh, was suspended after the HT exposed the scam in which the Mansa firm was handpicked under the garb of a faulty tendering procedure that flouted all norms.
The said firm had got its certification changed form a pipes manufacturing company to a publishing firm from the excise and taxation department to come clean as a deserving firm for the tender to supply books.
The tender invitation had a major fault in the name of 'maximum discount' on the MRP mentioned on the books. However, the rates were decided after the selection of the said firm as the MRP on books was already escalated.
Another lacuna in the tendering was that the third firm applying for the award had offered "zero per cent" discount. There had to be at least three firms for the tendering procedure. Friends Enterprise had offered 15% and the second one mentioned 14%.
Gurtej Singh, whose suspension has been revoked, had stated in his evidence that he had no role to play in calling the tenders and that he was not even a signatory in the award of the tender to the Mansa firm.
Pritpal Kaur had also recorded her evidence before the Jindal panel two weeks ago, stating that she was part of the purchase committee.
The HT had run a series on the scam that how the three-member committee had faltered while inviting the tenders for the library books as well as the science lab kits, and on the misuse of the central grants under the SSA in May 2012.

Odisha: 14 Dalit Students left school for ever due to discrimination

Odisha: 14 Dalit Students left school for ever due to discrimination
Monday, August 26, 2013
- See more at: http://www.orissadiary.com/CurrentNews.asp?id=43531#sthash.Ie1p8LE3.dpuf
Report by Akshya Rout, Jajpur: In the latest caste-bound controversy in Odisha's Jajpur district, over a dozen of dalit students left a government-run upper primary school for good while registering their protest against the removal of dalit cook by the school management.

There were in total 14 Dalit students of Gahirapala project Upper Primary school in village Gahirapala under Dasarathapur block and all of them under parental guidance availed school leaving certificate.

The school authorities had removed a dalit cook Janaki Jena from the school, triggering discontentment amongst the dalit students and parents. The dalit cook was replaced by a cook from the upper caste.

The head master and other teachers of the school segregated the upper caste and dalit students into two groups to provide mid-day meal in two rows for which many guardians of Dalit children protested against the caste discrimination of the teachers for which they abused many Dalit students and their parents, alleged a local, Narahari Jena.

"Three teachers had been misbehaving us on caste ground. They also segregated us from other upper caste students. Majority of the teachers never touch us and always brand us as 'untouchability', said Barsa Jena (11) a 5th class student of the school.

Hrusikesh Jena a guardian of a student also stated that the teachers of the school often abuse dalit students for which many dalit students were not going to the school .

Dalit children were also singled out in school and forced to sweep and mop classrooms and clean bathrooms. Bijaya Jena studies in Class IV . When asked about untouchability in school, he explains: "Ame Achuta (we are considered 'untouchable'), we are not allowed to take water from the drinking water from pot in the school. If we touch two teachers by mistake. They think we pollute them".
"The teachers don't want to handle our homework books so they are never corrected. I clean urinals and toilets", said Jena. "I clean toilets in school," said Samir Jena a bright lad studying in Class V. "Why do you do it?" when he was asked on Monday. He looks puzzled. To him it's a stupid question. Because the teacher tells me to do it."

When contacted , Laxman Murmu the headmaster of the school  said " We have been told that 14 Dalit students have left the school and have taking SLCs. I have directed the School Inspector and Welfare Extension Officer (WEO) to conduct an inquiry about the matter. After getting the report , the authority will take proper action against the culprits".

Laxmidhar Das the district inspector (DI) of school said “the dalit cook was removed as the upper caste students skipped the mid day meal.
Thus we were forced to engage a cook from the upper caste with consultation with school management committee. I visited the school and talked to the dalit parents. We have called upon the dalit parents to send back their wards to the school”.

Expressing concern over the continuation of age old practice of untouchablities, Prafulla Nayak a human right activist and the president of Pragati a social organization said that it was unfortunate that still the practice was prevailing in the villages. He was shocked over the children talking about discrimination of some particular castes. 
- See more at: http://www.orissadiary.com/CurrentNews.asp?id=43531#sthash.Ie1p8LE3.dpuf
Odisha: 14 Dalit Students left school for ever due to discrimination
Monday, August 26, 2013

222

6

10
2
Odisha: 14 Dalit Students left school for ever due to discrimination
Report by Akshya Rout, Jajpur: In the latest caste-bound controversy in Odisha's Jajpur district, over a dozen of dalit students left a government-run upper primary school for good while registering their protest against the removal of dalit cook by the school management.

There were in total 14 Dalit students of Gahirapala project Upper Primary school in village Gahirapala under Dasarathapur block and all of them under parental guidance availed school leaving certificate.

The school authorities had removed a dalit cook Janaki Jena from the school, triggering discontentment amongst the dalit students and parents. The dalit cook was replaced by a cook from the upper caste.

The head master and other teachers of the school segregated the upper caste and dalit students into two groups to provide mid-day meal in two rows for which many guardians of Dalit children protested against the caste discrimination of the teachers for which they abused many Dalit students and their parents, alleged a local, Narahari Jena.

"Three teachers had been misbehaving us on caste ground. They also segregated us from other upper caste students. Majority of the teachers never touch us and always brand us as 'untouchability', said Barsa Jena (11) a 5th class student of the school.

Hrusikesh Jena a guardian of a student also stated that the teachers of the school often abuse dalit students for which many dalit students were not going to the school .

Dalit children were also singled out in school and forced to sweep and mop classrooms and clean bathrooms. Bijaya Jena studies in Class IV . When asked about untouchability in school, he explains: "Ame Achuta (we are considered 'untouchable'), we are not allowed to take water from the drinking water from pot in the school. If we touch two teachers by mistake. They think we pollute them".
"The teachers don't want to handle our homework books so they are never corrected. I clean urinals and toilets", said Jena. "I clean toilets in school," said Samir Jena a bright lad studying in Class V. "Why do you do it?" when he was asked on Monday. He looks puzzled. To him it's a stupid question. Because the teacher tells me to do it."

When contacted , Laxman Murmu the headmaster of the school  said " We have been told that 14 Dalit students have left the school and have taking SLCs. I have directed the School Inspector and Welfare Extension Officer (WEO) to conduct an inquiry about the matter. After getting the report , the authority will take proper action against the culprits".

Laxmidhar Das the district inspector (DI) of school said “the dalit cook was removed as the upper caste students skipped the mid day meal.
Thus we were forced to engage a cook from the upper caste with consultation with school management committee. I visited the school and talked to the dalit parents. We have called upon the dalit parents to send back their wards to the school”.

Expressing concern over the continuation of age old practice of untouchablities, Prafulla Nayak a human right activist and the president of Pragati a social organization said that it was unfortunate that still the practice was prevailing in the villages. He was shocked over the children talking about discrimination of some particular castes. 
- See more at: http://www.orissadiary.com/CurrentNews.asp?id=43531#sthash.Ie1p8LE3.dpuf

RDPR bodies to be roped in for RTE implementation

RDPR bodies to be roped in for RTE implementation

Published: 26th August 2013 08:28 AM
Last Updated: 26th August 2013 08:28 AM
The Education Department has made its first concrete attempt to rope in Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) bodies to ensure effective implementation and grievance redressal of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, more than a year after it was implemented here.
A proposal in this regard has been presented to the State government to identify Standing Committees for Education and Health of Zilla Panchayat as the local authority at the district level for various sections of the RTE Act and their corresponding duties.
The Taluk Panchayat (TP) Social Justice Committee has been identified at the taluk level for the same.
Till now, the implementation of the RTE rested with officials of the Education Department, such as Block Education Officers (BEOs), Deputy Directors of Public Instruction (DDPIs) and the School Development and Monitoring Committees (SDMCs).
“There was confusion about the definition and jurisdiction of the local authority under the RTE Act. These committees will also receive complaints and address grievances as per Section 32 of the RTE Act,” said Subodh Yadav, State Project Director, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
According to the proposal, the Zilla Panchayat Standing Committees on Education and Health will be responsible for providing free and compulsory elementary education to every child, ensuring availability of neighbourhood schools and non-discrimination of children from weaker sections. The Committees will also monitor admissions, attendance and completion of education, provision of infrastructure and  free transportation to children where no school exists and assure quality at the district level.
The only local authority identified at the Gram Panchayat level is the Civic Amenity Committee, which is supposed to maintain records of children up to the age of 14, ensure admission of migrant children and monitor functioning of schools in villages.
“The time frame for grievance redressal and administrative modalities required to support these committees to accept these responsibilities will require association with the RDPR Department at the government level,” Yadav said.
He added that the members of the  Committees would also require training on Right to Education Act. 
‘Lesson Learnt’
An official from the RDPR Secretariat pointed out that education is one of the 29 subjects handled by the Zilla Panchayat bodies.
“This is the first time we will be approached to specifically include RTE. We are very interested in this proposal,” the official said.
Many programmes of the Union government, such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and National Rural Health Mission, are implemented through a parallel structure headed by Deputy Commissioners (DCs).
“Perhaps, this is a lesson learnt. There is a need to involve these bodies in matters such as education. Over the last few years, many responsibilities have been taken away from the Standing Committees only to be implemented through the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs),” the official added.

Assam government notifies guidelines for engaging teachers in election related duties

Bikash Singh, ET Bureau Aug 26, 2013, 09.43PM IST

GUWAHATI: Assam Government in pursuance of Human Resource Development Guideline under Section 35 (1) of Right to Education ( RTE) Act, 2009 regarding the implementation of provisions of Section 27 and Election Commission of India's letter, has notified guidelines in connection with engaging teachers in Election related duties.
As per the notification, wherever teaching staff is put on duties of roll revision, the DEOs or EROs will prescribe holidays and non-teaching days and non-teaching hours as duty period for this work. Such appointees may be asked to avoid teaching days and teaching hours for undertaking the roll revision work. During roll revision, wherever the teachers are appointed as designated officers to make various forms such as Form 6, 7 etc. available to the voters and to receive the Forms from voters, the DEOs or EROs will prescribe a specific time during non-teaching hours for the purpose of providing and receiving such Forms. Preferably minimum one hour time immediately after the closure of teaching hours can be earmarked for the purpose. Depending on the prevailing teaching hours, the DEOs or EROs will issue specific instruction and bring the same to the knowledge of all political parties and to the public well in advance.
Again, wherever special campaign dates are prescribed during the revision period, such campaign will invariably be held on holidays only.
Besides, when an intensive revision is to be ordered, the schedule for revision will be devised keeping the availability of holidays in mind. If the door-to-door verification has to be done on teaching days, such verification may be asked to be done after teaching hours and on holidays.
It may also be mentioned that whenever the teachers are used as Booth Level Officers for the purpose of door-to-door verification, for finding out cases of photo mismatches in photo roll etc., the same exercise will be done during non-teaching hours and on holidays.
Furthermore, whenever needed, the period of enumeration work may be extended for this purpose so that the enumeration work is carried out without hampering the teaching hours.

Monday, March 17, 2014

‘3-year stay in Delhi must for EWS benefit’

‘3-year stay in Delhi must for EWS benefit’

 
 
NEW DELHI: Citing the "general tendency" of migrants to keep shifting from one city to another, the Delhi government has defended its criteria insisting on minimum three years residence in the city for them to avail EWS quota in private schools.

In an affidavit filed in the Delhi high court, the department of education has said the condition of continuous three years residency is imposed to ensure that the benefit of free ship in schools is received by children who are permanently residing in the state and can "fruitfully reap the benefits provided in the RTE Act in a private school."

Directorate of education (DoE) has argued the demand of three years residence proof from the poor, to permit them to avail of EWS free ship in private schools, doesn't cause hardship to migrants as government schools are in any case providing them unconditional admission. "Continuous residency for three years will ensure the applicant settles in Delhi permanently so that the child imbibes the education and values, and there is optimum utilization of the quota," the affidavit says explaining the three year proof clause in the DoE circular.

The affidavit came in response to an HC query on the validity of the circular that excludes migrant children from availing quota facility under the economically weaker section (EWS) category. The court is hearing a petition filed by a street vendor seeking EWS benefits for her five-year-old child in a private unaided school and assailing the circular on the ground that it violates his fundamental rights.

SDMC to hire agency to grade schools, those with low-grades to go for adoption

SDMC to hire agency to grade schools, those with low-grades to go for adoption

25 August 2013, New Delhi, Siddheshwar Shukla

The corporation has also prepared a draft policy for ‘school adoption scheme’ which has been circulated among the members of the education committee for suggestions.


South Delhi Municipal Corporation is going to hire either a company or expert body to grade its primary schools in terms of infrastructure, faculty and other facilities. The schools that get low grades would be put for adoption scheme.

‘A private body is being engaged for grading of the schools. We will soon float tenders to hire an expert agency for grading,’ said Satish Upadhayay, chairman of the SDMC education committee. 
The decision was taken in the meeting of the education committee on Friday in which director education of SDMC, Sushil Kumar asked the concerned officers to appoint the agency within a month’s time. 

‘Some of our schools are equipped with required facilities and adequate teachers are posted there while some others lack basic facilities,’ added Upadhayay. 
It was also proposed 
that schools having low number of students should be preferred for the adoption scheme.

The corporation has also prepared a draft policy for ‘school adoption scheme’ which has been circulated among the members of the education committee for suggestions. ‘The draft proposal has also been sent to leader of opposition, a Congress councillor and interested NGOs for further improvement,’ Upadhayay added. 

The corporation aims to launch the scheme in the next two to three months Corporate social responsibility (CSR) arms of several reputed groups such as Bharti Airtel, SRF Foundation, Azim Premji Foundation, Tech Mahindra Foundation, Akanksha Foundation, ARK Foundation and Modern School group have already shown interest in the scheme.

The corporation has also decided to hand over around 50 odd schools to some eminent sports groups on public-private partnership (PPP) basis. Under the scheme, these private parters would provide free training to students of SDMC schools apart from maintain play grounds. They will, however, be allowed to charge outsiders to recover their expenses.


http://www.millenniumpost.in/NewsContent.aspx?NID=36561

Of ends and beginnings

Thursday, 29 August 2013 - 9:44am IST | Agency: DNA
State mulls closure of 13,700 schools with less than 20 kids.
The state government is planning to shut down schools having less than 20 students. The move seeks to curb the “wastage of money”, besides consolidating the huge education infrastructure.
An official affiliated with the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan said, “The school education department has identified over 13,700 such schools, including private and unaided institutions in the state, under the District Information System of Education Survey 2012. Of these, 3,779 schools have less than 10 students.”
On Tuesday, the department directed the municipal commissioners and CEOs of zilla parishads to find out if students studying in these schools can be shifted to other schools in the area as prescribed under the RTE Act. “The teachers, too, would be accommodated in other schools to maintain the teacher-student ratio,” said an official.
While a large number of these schools are in smaller cities and rural areas, those in Mumbai, too, are in the list.
A BMC official said, “We have been given a list of 26 schools with less than 20 students. The government has asked us to evaluate if students of these schools can be shifted to other schools. If schools are not available in the vicinity (as per the 1-km and 3-km norms for primary and secondary schools respectively), we have been asked to disburse transportation allowance to the kids.”
According to sources, these are mainly vernacular schools, some of which are being run due to the pressure of local corporators.

Aurangabad moves up in educational development index


Aurangabad moves up in educational development index


AURANGABAD: For the first time since the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) was launched in 2003, Aurangabad district had the best results on two of the four indicators on quality of schooling as per the Educational Development Index (EDI) report 2012-13 released recently.

District education officers said Aurangabad was ranked first in terms of outcome index and second in terms of the overall EDI in the state.

The ministry of human resource development, Government of India, and the national university of educational planning and administration, New Delhi, initiated an effort to compute EDI in 2005-06. A set of 29 indicators were identified for evaluating EDI after the methodology was revised in 2009.

"The purpose of EDI is to summarize various aspects related to input, process and outcomes of various indicators and to identify geographical areas that lag behind in educational development," primary education officer Nitin Upasani at the zilla parishad said.

These indicators have been grouped under four categories namely, access, infrastructure, teacher and outcome. A separate index has been calculated for each of the four categories and EDI is an overall index of all these four indices.

Keep the model but check problems in PPPs: Montek

He has written to ministries seeking across-the-board changes from award to monitoring of projects, while asking govt agencies to check malfeasance

NEW DELHI: Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, seen as the strongest proponent of public private partnership (PPP) projects, has admitted to "problems" but ruled out scrapping the model . Instead, he has started discussions on how the mechanism can be made to work better amid strong public criticism, which he acknowledges can be "legitimate".
 
Mr. Ahluwalia has written to ministries seeking across-the-board changes from award to monitoring of projects, while listing out several projects where developers have gained. From the consumer point of view, the biggest change is to be ushered in on the monitoring side as the plan panel has finally recognised that developers of roads and airports and those setting up power plants often fall short of service standards.
 
"In most cases the user charges are levied and recovered by force of law and since payment thereof is involuntary, users expect the government to ensure the promised level of service... Since the concessionaire is primarily guided by profit motive, he may try to save his costs and expense by cutting corners and shortchanging the users," a note circulated by Mr. Ahuluwalia said, while asking government agencies to step up monitoring to avoid charges of collusion. The document said while malfeasance in traditional contracts can be detected fairly early, it could take long to surface in PPP projects, but the consequences are far more significant.
 
Source & Credit: Dipak Kumar Dash, The Times of India

HRD Minister Dr. Pallam Raju Launches RTE Anthem

HRD Minister Dr. Pallam Raju Launches RTE Anthem

Thursday, August 29, 2013









Report by India Education bureau, New Delhi: The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 mandates eight years of elementary education to all children in the 6 to 14 years age group. While supply side provisioning is being done by the Government, at the same time creation of demand in a rights based perspective is also of utmost importance. Different media tools have been used in this regard and the RTE Anthem is an attempt to do it in a joyful and child friendly manner, wherein children will imbibe the RTE message from popular public figures in a creative melody. 

National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) supported the Ministry in creating the Anthem, which has been written by renowned lyricist Shri Javed Akhtar and sung by Sonu Nigam and Sunidhi Chauhan. The video of the Anthem features children from different part of the country and reflects the pan-India essence of RTE. The Anthem depicts child-centered principles and entitlements and has been shot in government schools. 

The anthem will be dubbed in English and 15 regional languages (Assamese, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Dogri, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Naga, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu) to generate constructive awareness among the community and stakeholders for the implementation of RTE. 

The melodious RTE Anthem was launched by Union Minister for HRD Dr. M.M. Pallam Raju, in the presence of MoS HRD, Dr. Shashi Tharoor and also the lyricist and MP Shri Javed Akhtar. The Minister reiterated the Government’s commitment to the RTE Act at the launch function. The function was attended by school children and also featured performances by students of Bal Bhawan.