Friday, July 29, 2011

Punjab to provide free education to girls

Punjab to provide free education to girls
To check dropout rate, all girl students studying in 9th to 12th classes in government and state-aided schools will be provided the facility
Submitted on 07/29/2011 - 08:49:12 AM
By Hemant Singh

Chandigarh: In a bid to keep a tab on the school drop-out rate of girls, the Punjab government has decided to provide free education to all girl students, studying in 9th to 12th classes in all government and state-aided schools.

“We have issued a notification waiving off all charges from all girl students studying in 9th to 12th standards in government as well as in aided schools. This decision has been implemented from the ongoing academic session. This will help to keep a check in school drop-out rate of girl students,” a senior official said.

“No admission fee, re-admission fee, amalgamated fund, PTA fund, sports fund, information and computer technology fund, geography, fine arts, physics, chemistry and biology fee would be charged from any girl student,” he added.

It may be mentioned here that at present no fee was being charged from girl students up to 10th standard in state government schools. This new initiative of the state government will benefit over 25,000 girl students in Punjab.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

India Journal: Can India Reap an ‘Education Dividend?’

India Journal: Can India Reap an ‘Education Dividend?’

By Rakesh Mani

Much has been spoken and written of India’s “demographic dividend.” With almost 40% of the population – around 500 million people – under the age of 15, it is estimated that around 25% of the global workforce will be Indian by 2030. What this means is that the quality of education that young Indian children are receiving today is going to impact us all in the near future.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has committed to significantly enhancing outlays for the education sector and Human Resource Development Minister Kabil Sibal even came out with some bold, interesting proposals for education reform. For a time, there was spirited debate in the country on the measures needed to be taken but the government is yet to move forward on key policy decisions. Many commentators attribute the United Progressive Alliance government’s reluctance to political caution. There is, for instance, considerable opposition to allowing foreign investment in higher education.

The government has responded by commissioning studies and setting up a maze of committees to decide the best course of action. These are convenient tools to delay any sort of commitment and to buy time. Unfortunately, an arcane regulatory framework and a fractured polity only help matters in this case. But it would be difficult to overstate how important it is for India to act swiftly in order to reap the full benefits of its demographic slant.

The scale of education reform required in India is massive and, yes, sustainable change will take time as well as a broad-based consensus. But to get the ball rolling, there are a number of short-term steps that the government can begin immediately:

1. Commit to spending more on education. Way back in 1968, the Kothari Commission recommended that India spend 6% of its Gross Domestic Product on education. However, in the 43 years since, India’s total educational outlays have never exceeded 4.3% of its GDP in any given year. Setting aside more funds for education is a critical first step that will demonstrate the government’s commitment to educational reform.

2. Fix primary education first. There are two major tasks here: raising enrollment to 100% in urban as well as rural areas; and then minimizing drop-outs. Both need to work in tandem to be meaningful. In Mumbai, for instance, enrollment rates are very high – above 95% — but only a fraction of these students actually finish school due to absurdly high drop-out rates. In addition, eliminating gender gaps at this early stage must be a priority. Shockingly, in some rural areas, thousands of young girls do not attend school because there are no separate toilets for them. Other girls do not attend because the walk to school – often in a neighboring village – is unsafe.

3. Yes, the answer is building more schools with better infrastructure. But even as the government and private institutions are building more schools, the quality of instruction is falling sharply. Teacher training needs a great deal of work and effort. Here, it is heartening to see the number of NGOs that are rushing to fill this gap but most of these efforts are still confined to urban areas, and especially large metropolitan cities. We need high-quality instruction to produce high-quality students capable of playing active roles in a rapidly growing country.

4. Prioritize schooling over higher education. In the early 50s, Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, decided to build out India’s higher education platform to compete technologically in the Cold War era. Under his direction, institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology were expanded and the country focused on producing more engineers and scientists. But the expansion of higher education was accompanied by a neglect of school education. This continues today, with new engineering colleges mushrooming every day. Schools are often viewed as little more than a means to gain access to a solid engineering program. This remarkable trend has had far-reaching effects.

Sure, we have been in a better position to benefit from the information technology revolution over the last decade. And we have sent numerous graduates abroad, where their successes have enhanced India’s “soft power.” However, even with our focus on higher education, India still faces severe shortages of skilled manpower in areas like health, aviation and engineering which are leading to economic bottlenecks. The problem is that graduates are not of a high enough caliber. Businesses cannot rely on the talent of their fresh intake and are forced to design expensive in-house training programs.
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What we need to realize is that it is impossible to produce high-quality graduates who are capable of competing globally, not just in the Indian economy, without sturdy foundations at school. We need a paradigm shift in how we view education in the first place, and focus on building it from the bottom up – not the other way round.

The most important piece of the Indian education puzzle is a change in mindset. This, finally, will be the most important lever in reforming the system and creating sustainable change. How do we view education? What should we expect from it – at school and, later, at university? These are questions which are inevitably fuzzy but which will require serious thought and introspection – not just among ordinary citizens, but among politicians and bureaucrats as well.

Make no mistake: we are in the midst of a severe education crisis. And it is for this reason that we need to be talking about the subject more and encouraging debate. Because let us be sure that, without a significant change in mindset, education reform is a non-starter and the “demographic dividend” will just remain a fancy term confined to political journals.

Rakesh Mani, a columnist and writer, is an alumnus of the Teach For India program. He spent two years working with low-income schools in Bombay.

Language no barrier for this two-in-one school

Language no barrier for this two-in-one school
Kangkan Kalita, TNN | Jul 24, 2011, 11.48AM IST

GUWAHATI: It can happen only in India, two schools sharing a single classroom! Hindi-medium Hiralal Joshi ME School and Bengali-medium LP School in the heart of the city at Panbazar have a common "classroom" measuring about 120 sq ft where about 110 students jostle for space. What could be a bigger mockery of the Right to Education Act that came into force more than a year ago?

All was fine for LP School (set up in 1907) till 2006. It had the requisite space where classes could be conducted. Trouble started brewing when Hiralal Joshi ME School, the oldest Hindi-medium school in the Northeast, was shifted from its Fancy Bazar address to Panbazar. Set up in 1933, the school was built on a plot of donated land. In 2006, the donor wanted his plot back. It was then that the government decided to shift it to Panbazar. It has 40 students from Classes I to V.

Subodh Choudhury, head master of the school, expressed his helplessness. "Just imagine, 110 students packed into one area. Classes are conducted in two different languages, one teaching in Hindi, the other in Bengali!"

Six and more students have to share a singe bench at times. After Class V was added to the lower primary section, there was more space crunch. Kamal Kant Jha, a teacher at the school, said, "The district elementary education officer was informed about the situation in 2006 but the matter was not taken up seriously with the authorities concerned."

The school recently came up for discussion during a meeting of the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights. Top officials of the education department were also present. Talking to TOI, additional deputy commissioner, Kamrup (Metro) Bijoya Choudhury, said the district administration will take up the matter. "An enquiry will be made by the circle officer or magistrate concerned," she added.

HRD plans school transparency norms

HRD plans school transparency norms
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Twenty-five private schools in Delhi were indicted by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) for faking their losses and the case is in the Delhi High Court.

In March this year, the CAG filed a report in the HC, claiming that these institutions, including Delhi Public School, R K Puram, Modern School, Barakhamba Road, and Amity International School, fudged their balance sheets and were guilty of accounting malpractices.

While the judgment is awaited, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) is mulling a new set of reforms to make following accounting standards prescribed by the ICAI mandatory for schools and colleges and universities across the country.

Under these accounting standards, there will be conflict-of-interest policy with disclosures. This is being done to introduce transparency and accountability in the education sector, which is in the midst of controversies regarding the private schools’ opposition to the government determining if they can go for a fee hike, and fraudulent universities and colleges operating in the country.

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“Since education is in the concurrent list, we want to discuss it with the states once we have the accounting standards finalised for schools and then move forward. The standards for colleges and universities are under preparation,” said a ministry official.

Last year, Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal had a meeting with the ICAI officials to discuss the accounting standards and make way for accrual basis accounting, where the income is reported in the fiscal period it is earned, and expenses are deducted in the fiscal period they are incurred, whether they are paid or not. Using this method, which is what most companies in the financial sector and even many governments use, revenues and expenses are recorded when they occur.

Universities and colleges in the states now use the cash-basis accounting where revenues are recorded when cash is actually received and expenses are recorded when they are actually paid. According to ICAI officials, this sort of accounting principle is what leads to incorrect balance sheets.

“Last year, we had a meeting with the HRD minister who was keen on disclosures and transparency in the financial statements of schools and colleges. This acquires importance because of the fact that many institutions are coming up and they are like corporate houses in the way they function. They follow the cash-basis system of accounting and there, they can play around with the balance sheets,” Director of ICAI Vijay Kapur said.

An eight-member team is working on finalising the standards that will be later notified to the colleges and universities.

State ready with draft rules on Right to Education

tate ready with draft rules on Right to Education
Sruthy Susan Ullas, TNN Jul 23, 2011, 07.04am IST

BANGALORE: The debate on Right to Education (RTE) Act has begun again with the Centre on Thursday remaining firm on implementing it without any dilution and insisting on 25% inclusion of underprivileged children by private schools. Though implemented in 2009, Karnataka is among many states yet to notify the rules for implementation.

The Times of India spoke to primary and secondary education minister Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri to get a status report on the act that is aimed at sending every child to school.

Excerpts :

What is the status of the RTE act in Karnataka?

The law department scrutinized the draft rules and suggested some minor changes. We are incorporating these changes. It will go to the cabinet soon for approval, and will then be sent for notification. I cannot give a date as of now,butcan assure youthatitwillbe at theearliest.

When other states could implement it, why the delay?

Tell me, how many states have implementedit ?Twoor three, not more.It requires some time to process and get thingsset.We received 2,000objections, and all of them have been carefully scrutinized.

Funds have been the bone of contention between the Centre and the state in implementing the RTE?Any consensus?

We are discussing it with the Centre, but officials there are not at all clear on the issue. They have said that states should generate funds. All the states have made it clear that we need central support. We need crores of rupees to implementtheAct.

How much have you set apart in the state budget?

Wehaven'tfigureditout yet.

What about other preparations?

We have taken up awareness programmes in a big way. A series of events have been planned to involve school development and monitoring committee members, teachers, alumni, parents and officials to spread awareness about RTE. There are organisations involved at all levels. Gram panchayats had come out with a white paper on their preparedness to implementthelawduring the ShalegagiN aavu Neevu programme. Most of them have executed the main points, like identifying infrastructuresolutions.

Pre-school education likely to come under Right to Education Act's ambit

Pre-school education likely to come under Right to Education Act's ambit
Urmi A Goswami, ET Bureau Jul 22, 2011, 04.47am IST

NEW DELHI: The Human Resource Development Ministry is looking at ways to bring pre-school education, which covers children between four and six years, within the ambit of the Right to Education Act. This is in consonance with the suggestion made by the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council.

However, the logistical and financial pressures of the inclusion of approximately four crore children under the RTE are a cause of concern. But it is argued that the inclusion of pre-school learning under the free and compulsory education law could pave the way for reforming early years of learning.

According to sources, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that a final decision on increasing the ambit of the RTE will be taken by the end of July.

The inclusion of children between the ages of four and six years will mean reworking the ambit of the ministry of women and child development, which administers Integrated Child Development Schemes (ICDS) targeting children below the age of six years. An inter-ministerial taskforce headed by Planning Commission member Sayeeda Hameed is already looking at restructuring ICDS.

The NAC is of the view that the ministry's anaganwadi programme should cover children up to the age of four. Simultaneously, the Planning Commission's sub-group on elementary education is examining the possibility of widening the reach of the Right to Education to include children between the age of four and six years. The sub-group of the Central Advisory Board of Education, which is examining the possibility of extending the free and compulsory education law to cover secondary education, will also be asked to look into the inclusion of pre-school learning.

In its present form, the Right to Education Act covers school education from classes 1 to 8.

The biggest impediment to include children between the age of four and six years under the RTE is the logistical and financial pressure that it will entail. The move will mean adding four crore children to the free and compulsory education recipients. It will also require setting up additional 10 lakh classrooms, and hiring at least 10 lakh trained nursery teachers.

An estimate suggests that it will cost at least 2 lakh per classroom to implement the expansion plan. There will also be recurring costs such as teachers' salaries, learning materials.

The sources said that the biggest cause of concern would be about trained nursery teachers. There is also apprehension about evolving a new system of convergence with the health sector to ensure the growth monitoring component of the ICDS is not lost.

SSchools must admit 25% students from weaker and backward classes: Centre

Schools must admit 25% students from weaker and backward classes: Centre
Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN | Jul 22, 2011, 04.49AM IST

The Centre on Thursday remained firm on implementing Right to Education (RTE) Act without any dilution and told the Supreme Court that even private schools have to keep 25% of its seats for students from weaker and economically disadvantaged sections.(TOI Photo)
NEW DELHI: The Centre on Thursday remained firm on implementing Right to Education (RTE) Act without any dilution and told the Supreme Court that even private schools have to keep 25% of its seats for students from weaker and economically disadvantaged sections.
Responding to the challenge to the constitutional validity of RTE Act by private schools arguing that it frustrated their fundamental right to trade, attorney general G E Vahanvati said the government had made a provision to reimburse private schools the expenses incurred for admitting such students in 25% of its seats.
"If the schools insist on absolute autonomy, the goal of integrated universal elementary education will be compromised," he said before a bench of Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar.
"Therefore, under the balancing principle, the autonomy of the institutions to admit students of their choice must be subject to admitting 25% students belonging to weaker and disadvantaged sections," Vahanvati said.
He said the RTE Act was enacted to secure the fundamental right to education of children and steps taken by the government to further their right under Article 21-A of the Constitution could not be construed as stifling the private schools' right to trade under Article 19(1)(g).
The AG said the relative importance of children's right as against the right to establish and administer a school was internationally recognised. "The autonomy claimed by private schools must yield to the larger social imperative underlying the right to life under Article 21 and allowing the supremacy of 'autonomy' would be detrimental to the constitutional goals of equality and inclusiveness," he said.
He said admission given to students from weaker and disadvantaged sections would help build a heterogeneous population of school children across caste, class and gender lines and promote social cohesion.
"Learning occurs not merely from instruction imparted within the four walls of the classroom but from the classroom ethos and from interactivity between children from different backgrounds -- different castes, different religions, different socio-economic backgrounds," Vahanvati said.

CM on sticky wicket over textbook row

CM on sticky wicket over textbook row

Adversity does not seem to deter her in carrying the burden of 'merit' on her shoulders. Even in the face of successive setbacks, the Poes Garden diva remains unwilling to give up her decision to change the school curriculum.

Certainly, there is more to it than the playing out of the rivalry between the two Dravidian parties, which has been the bane of the state.

For the second time, Jayalalithaa has received a snub from the High Court. Quashing the very first legislation brought by her government - to dump the common school system - the Court had directed implementation of the new scheme without any delay by distributing the common syllabus textbooks by July 22.

While this has brightened the possibility of students getting books nearly two months after reopening of schools, there is still an element of uncertainty.

All these days, they have been going to school without books.

And confusion still prevails as the curtains are not yet down on the issue. For, the czarina is all set to challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court.

Well, she can't be expected to carry out a programme initiated by her bête noire M Karunanidhi! Textbooks with her arch rival's portrait and a poem, he penned for the Tamil jamboree, besides glorification of DMK rule would have naturally invited her wrath.

When many a scheme had faced the axe, this one can't be an exception. But, oblivious of the fact that her stubbornness could alienate not only the middle classes but very large sections of society, the Chief Minister, soon after assuming office made every attempt to stall the common syllabus. Despite the lofty intentions, what she had failed to consider was that time was not in her favour.

Since she assumed office only on May 16, there was little time left to effect any change. To buy time, reopening of schools was postponed by a fortnight and then they were ordered to function without books.

"It is of poor quality and does not conform to international standards. It will irreparably affect the future of the students and their career," has been her stance. Hence, textbooks, printed at a cost of 200 crore, were consigned to the godowns.

Her critics were quick to see in this an attempt to throw the baby out with the bath water.

It was not unfounded as an impatient administration gave orders for the printing of text books as per the old syllabus, in the hope that it could eventually overcome the legal hurdles.

Unlike the other schemes of the previous DMK regime, which were scrapped, the common school system has found favour among educationists and the public with a wider political consensus. Even her allies have been backing the scheme. For, this ensures a single stream in school education by replacing the existing four streams viz., State Board, Matric, Anglo Indian and Oriental streams.

However, CBSE/ ICSE will remain the same.

At the first instance, the High Court ordered implementation of the new syllabus. However, the Government obtained a reprieve from the apex court, which directed constitution of a panel to review the text books and 'examine ways and means to implement the common school system'. Its report should be submitted to the High Court for it to take a decision.

Faltering on every step, the government allowed itself to be caught on the wrong foot.

Debunking the government's stance, the High Court pointed out that the very first Cabinet meeting deciding to defer the common syllabus was without rationale and taken in haste. Further, the legislation was seen as a biased exercise and an attempt to nullify the Common School Education Act, upheld by the apex court. Having sought the minutes and individual opinion of the members of the expert panel, the Court rejected the final report which called for scrapping the common syllabus.

Will this be a one off instance of the czarina and the judiciary engaged on a collision course or whether this is indicative of the things to come? History shows that one could safely bet on the latter. For, never has her government been free of a tiff with the judiciary. Hope, the past does not repeat itself.

Karuna asks Jaya govt to greatness and implement USSE

Karuna asks Jaya govt to greatness and implement USSE
PTI Jul 20, 2011, 07.29pm IST

CHENNAI: DMK President M Karunanidhi today said the government should take immediate steps to implement the uniform system of school education introduced by his previous regime keeping the interest of students and anxiety of parents in mind.

"The government should show greatness... keeping in mind the interest of the Tamil Nadu students and understanding their parent's anxiety, it should not move the Supreme Court. Instead it should ensure that text books were made available by July 22 and the students were able to continue their education," he said in a statement tonight.

Quoting portions of yesterday's Madras High Court judgement striking down an amendment to the Tamil Nadu Uniform System of School Education (Amendment Act 2011) to put on hold the scheme, Karunanidhi said the court itself had said the scheme was introduced by the erstwhile government for the purpopse of achieving social justice and quality education.

A deep study of the judgement would show why the AIADMK Government brought the amendment to the act, he said.

He said leaders of various political parties, including AIADMK's allies, have asked the government to implement the scheme in the wake of the high court order.

In a blow to the Jayalalithaa government, a bench comprising chief Justice M Y Eqbal and Justice T S Sivagnanam in their order held that Section 3 of the Tamil Nadu Uniform System of School Education (Amendment Act 2011) was "unconstitutional" and ultra vires of Article 14 of the Constitution.

Tamil Nadu has over 1.23 crore students in four streams of school education - 45,000 state board schools, 11,000 matriculation schools, 25 oriental schools and 50 Anglo- Indian schools, all with separate syllabus, textbooks and schemes of examinations.

The scheme, aimed at bringing about uniform education, was shelved by Jayalalithaa in one of her first acts of reversing several pet schemes of the Karunanidhi regime.

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Protest against teaching of Gita in schools in Karnataka

Protest against teaching of Gita in schools in Karnataka
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By: Dibin Samuel

Enlarge this picturePrimary and Secondary Education Minister Vishwanath Hegde Kageri on July 9 issued a circular that proposed the teaching of the Bhagvad Gita to primary and secondary school children daily for one hour.The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka has courted another controversy after it supported the teaching of 'Bhagvad Gita' in primary and higher secondary schools.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Vishwanath Hegde Kageri on July 9 issued a circular that proposed the teaching of the Bhagvad Gita to primary and secondary school children daily for one hour.

Kageri handed over the responsibility of teaching the Hindu text to Gangadharaeshwara Saraswathi Swamiji of Swarnavalli Mutt in Uttara Kannada.

"As the education minister I support the campaign. The government is ready to give money to mutts that support religion and culture, which the government believes in. Nobody can question it," media quoted Kageri saying at a programme in Kolar.

He went on to say that those opposing the teaching of Gita should quit India.

The education minister's circular meanwhile was challenged by the Karnataka State Minorities Educational Institutions Managements Federation that filed a petition in the High Court seeking a recall of the order.

The petitioner stated that the circular goes against the Constitution and also affects the religious beliefs and the sentiments of the minority communities.

Furthermore, the petitioner said the circular was contrary to the right guaranteed to minority institutions and also it violated Section 7(g) 3 of Karnataka Education Act which upholds unity, sovereignty and integrity of the nation.

While condemning the move to force teaching of Gita, counsel for the petitioner, GR Mohan mentioned that if the same is allowed in schools then Quran and Bible must also be included for students.

The court has sought the response of the state and the central governments.

Last week, protests were held by political and religious organisations, condemning the attempt to "communalise" education.

On July 14, Christians joined members of the Students' Federation of India (SFI), Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) and the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) for a protest in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Bangalore.

“The circular is anti-constitutional because India is a secular country and teaching religious texts, which is holy for the Hindus, to students belonging to different religions is not correct,” PTI quoted state president of SFI, HR Naveen Kumar, as saying.

A memorandum was submitted to governor H R Bhardhwaj through deputy commissioner N S Channappa Gowda.

The campaign for introducing the Hindu holy book was on since 2007. It however gained momentum after Kageri, a devoted patron of Gangadharaeshwara Saraswathi Swamiji, assumed charge of the education department.

This is the second time the BJP has come under severe criticism for “saffronising” education.

Recently, the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh implemented Gita lessons in Classes 1 to 10 in the current academic session. However, the Church strongly protested the move and urged for other religions' books also to be taught in schools.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Haryana to upload teachers’ details on Website

Haryana to upload teachers’ details on Website
Initially data of Junior Basic Training and head teachers working on regular basis in government primary schools will be uploaded
Submitted on 07/08/2011 - 09:07:55 AM
By Hemant Singh

Chandigarh: In a bid to streamline its working and to minimise the scope of mistakes in the official data, Haryana Education Department has decided to upload the details of its teachers on the official website.

“Department of Elementary Education has decided to upload important aspects of the data of JBT (junior basic training) and head teachers working on regular basis in government primary schools, on the department’s official website with an immediate effect,” a senior official of Haryana Education Department said.

“We have also invited objections from the concerned JBTs and head teachers if any information, regarding them, is registered wrongly. Gradually we will upload the information of all government school teachers on the website,” he added.

The official said that if any teacher found any information related to him/her to be incorrect and required some changes, then he/she might send his objections through e-mails.

“The concerned teacher can send the objections and required amendments clearly mentioning the changes required in the database through e-mails at jbtdatahry@gmail.com .

The lists or database would be made available on the website of the department.

He said that if there was no objection from the person concerned, it would be presumed that there was no mistake or error and the same would be treated as final for all purposes.

Low internet literacy even in urban India: Report

Low internet literacy even in urban India: Report

MUMBAI: Union Minister of State for InformationTechnology Sachin Pilot has promised that a "21st century" infrastructure would be set up for high speed broadband access; while a report that he released expresses concerns about "low internet literacy" even in urban areas.

Pilot released the report `Innovation In Telecom' by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) here yesterday. He did not give any time-frame for ushering in "21st century" infrastructure, nor did he comment on the report.

PwC report says that "even in the urban regions, Internet literacy is quite low, and so is the usage. It will take a generation for data usage to pick up.... Non-voice services, including value added services and SMS form just five to 15 per cent of total operator revenues, which goes to over 50 per cent for operators in major countries. The number for mobile data would be still lower."

Rural teledensity has still not reached the targets and the Universal Service Obligation (USO)) Fund created for the telecom industry has not been utilised adequately, it said.

Most product innovations still originate from the Western economies while Indian companies seem to be content adopting them. One of the reasons is lack of proper research infrastructure, education and investment, the report adds.

"Talent is one drawback we severely face in India. While India produces twice as many engineering graduates as the United States, only less than five per cent have basic vocational skills essential for fruitful employment," it said.

"Only about 25 per cent graduates in India have the skills that deem them fit to work for multinational companies. This is because most institutes in India are built with the idea of meeting the demand for graduate education, focused on enrolling as many students as possible," the report added.

The report also expresses concern about the anxiety among telecom sector investors about clarity in telecom policy.

Bihar could have full literacy in two decades

8 Jul, 2011, 03.35PM IST, IANS
Bihar could have full literacy in two decades

PATNA:Bihar's literacy rate may be the lowest in the country at 63.8 percent, but it could achieve total literacy in about two decades like the rest of India, predicts a new report.

During the past decade, the literacy rate in Bihar has increased by 17 percent, much faster compared to nine percent for the entire country, the report points out.

"If Bihar is able to maintain its present momentum in educational progress, it will hopefully achieve total literacy simultaneously with the rest of the country," said the report, "Elementary Education in Bihar: Progress and Challenges".

According to the report, among all Indian states, the literacy rate is the lowest in Bihar. The 2011 census records it at 63.8 percent compared to 74 percent for the entire country. "The only ray of hope in this otherwise depressing scenario is the faster spread of literacy in Bihar during 2001 to 2011 than in India as a whole," the report said.

The report was released by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen three days ago, which was jointly prepared by the Pratichi India Trust and the Centre forEconomic Policy and Public Finance, Bihar. It pointed out that the present momentum in the progress of literacy in Bihar can be maintained only whenelementary education in the state is strengthened.

"The differences between the all-India and Bihar literacy rate was only 4.5 percent in 1961, it has gradually increased to 18.2 percent by 2001," the report said. "Fortunately, the spread of literacy during the last decade has been faster in Bihar than in India as a whole, reducing the gap in literacy rates to 10.2 percent," the report said.

It said there are certainly many signs of change. The number of schools has jumped, the shortfall of teachers has come down sharply, attendance of students is definitely up and the enrolment ratio has reached the comfortable figure of 98 percent.

The availability of schools has now been doubled as the number of schools per one lakh population has increased from 60.2 in 2005-06 to 107.3 in 2008-09.

The overall enrolment ratio in elementary education was found to be extremely high, about 98.1 percent for children of 6-14 years. Nearly 95 percent of the students are enrolled in government schools, the backbone of the elementary schooling system in the state.

The report added that there has been an advancement in teacher recruitment in Bihar in recent years, bringing their strength to about 4.33 lakh. However, the total required is at least 7.28 lakh, implying a shortfall of about 40.5 percent.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rs 400cr for teachers' training

Rs 400cr for teachers' training
Jaideep Deogharia, TNN | Jul 21, 2011, 12.56pm IST
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Read more:RMSA|Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan|human resource development department|HRD
RANCHI: The state human resource development department has got around Rs 400 crore from the Centre to train teachers and augment infrastructure of schools.

However, the money sanctioned was Rs 100 crore less than what the state had asked for.

Participating in the 15th board meeting of the Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan (RMSA) here on Wednesday, officials of the state HRD department laid emphasis on building infrastructure and teachers' training.

The two-day RMSA meeting was chaired by union HRD secretary Anshu Viash who attended the presentation made by four states Orissa, Chhatisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand.

State project director (secondary education) Mukesh Sinha presented before the panel a proposal for augmentation of 312 existing schools' infrastructure and opening up of 300 schools to meet the targets of the RMSA. The main focus of Jharkhand is to get the teachers and headmasters trained so that quality of education in secondary schools be improved, Sinha said. "Appointment of teachers is the prerogative of the state government and we are initiating a process to make appointments against the vacancies but the RMSA funds will be utilized to train the existing manpower."

The RMSA aims at ensuring 100% enrolment of students in secondary schools by 2017 and 100% retention of students by 2020.

Representing the state, director in charge of secondary education Abha Kusum Tirkey said the state had proposed a budget of around Rs 500 crore.

"The state has been given Rs 400 crore. Given the fact that Orissa was successful in getting Rs 1,100 crore for the state, the amount approved for Jharkhand is meager," said Sinha.

Sources in the state HRD department said structure of secondary education had not been revamped in the past 20 years leaving a lot of scope for seeking central funds to improve the infrastructure and to get teachers trained through the module suggested by the union ministry.

The directorate of secondary education has proposed to organize five-day in service training of 6,000 teachers, whereas in a separate programme around 550 headmasters will be trained on the lines of management training to enhance their skill in managing the entire functioning of schools.

The training programme will be conducted by the Jharkhand Council for Education Research and Training.

No pvt school to come up near public institution: JK govt

No pvt school to come up near public institution: JK govt
PTI | Jul 20, 2011, 07.16pm IST
Article
Comments
Read more:state education|RMSA|Private school|Jammu and kashmir
SRINAGAR: In order to improve the functioning of government-run schools, the Jammu and Kashmir government has decided that no private school will be allowed to come up in the vicinity of a public school.

"No private institution will be allowed to come up in the vicinity of government institute. The statutory rule order-123 in this regard needs to be implemented in letter and spirit," State Education Minister Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed said at a conference here yesterday.

Sayeed said the government has succeeded to a large extent in promoting literacy rate, implementing central schemes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan ( RMSA) in the State.

"Massive infrastructure has been raised across the state under these flagship programmes. The state is marching fast towards the goal of 100 per cent literacy," he added.

The Minister said the government will soon issue confirmation orders for zonal education officers and headmasters, while the regularisation of 10+2 lecturers is under consideration.

The Minister asked the teachers to work with outmost dedication and impart quality education to the students.

Responding to the demands put forth by the employees, Sayeed assured them that their genuine demands would be looked into.

The Minister directed the Chief Education Officers to complete selection process of Rehbar-i-Taleem teachers (teaching guides) within 45 days in a transparent manner.

Read Gita in school or leave India: Karnataka education minister

Read Gita in school or leave India: Karnataka education minister
ANI | Jul 20, 2011, 04.04pm IST
Article
Comments (1,484)
Read more:Karnataka minister|Bhagwad Gita
KOLAR: Karnataka education minister Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri has said that it the duty of every Indian to respect sacred Hindu text, Bhagavad Gita, else they should leave the country.

"The Bhagavad Gita is like the Sun. I think that it is the duty of every Indian to respect the Bhagvad Gita like they respect other elements surrounding them. I strongly feel that if someone does not respect it, they have no place in India. They should leave the country and settle abroad," said Kageri.

Rebuking the strong statement issued by the minister, the state opposition and chief of Janata Dal-Secular, H D Deve Gowda said India is a secular country.

"It (India) is a secular country. Kageri should read the Constitution 100 times to understand this. It is a secular country. Every religion has got it's own protection. One cannot teach these fellows; they have abruptly come to power because of the misdeeds done by Congress," said Gowda.

Earlier on July 9, Kageri issued a circular proposing that Bhagavad Gita should be taught to schoolchildren at least for an hour on a daily basis.

The circular has been challenged by the Karnataka State Minorities Educational Institutions Managements Federation, which has filed a petition in the state high court.

Divisive track

Divisive track
Jul 20, 2011, 12.00am IST

Last heard, India had a secular constitution that protected freedom of expression. That slipped the notice of Vishwanath Hegde Kageri, Karnataka's school education minister, when he declared that those opposed to the teaching of the Gita in schools should quit India. Whether Kageri or the state BJP likes it or not, there is a constitutional issue around religious preaching by state schools. Article 28(1) of the Constitution forbids religious instruction of any kind in educational institutions wholly funded by the state. That's why the matter is before the courts now, but Kageri is trying to browbeat opponents by resorting to inflammatory and communally polarising rhetoric. Quite apart from the constitutional impropriety of state schools imparting religious education, anyone has the right to oppose the introduction of any school text at any time, without being asked to leave the country. Can politicians never get beyond their old divisive habits, not even in communally sensitive times such as these?

Kageri's approach also sums up another common ailment of Indian education ministers. They still do not see their job as expanding the boundaries of education and promoting useful skills that will empower the young, but as prescribing what should be taught, using schools and colleges to disburse patronage, policing the boundaries of Indian culture, and turning education into a tool of political propaganda. That's why the system continues to churn out vast numbers of unemployable graduates. Education must be freed from political straitjackets if we are to cultivate a skilled workforce and realise our demographic dividend. And the change must come from the top. For starters, Kageri can be asked to quit his ministry.

Jaya govt finds too much of Karunanidhi in school texts

Jaya govt finds too much of Karunanidhi in school texts

What are these books about?

They were prepared as part of a common syllabus system by the previous government. Under the Tamil Nadu Uniform System of School Education Act, 2010, “Samacheer Kalvi” was an effort towards a uniform syllabus for the four streams of school education in the state: State Board, Matriculation Schools, Oriental Schools and Anglo-Indian Schools, which follow separate syllabi, textbooks and examination patterns, and are under different boards.

How did that government go about it?

It constituted a committee under the chairmanship of a former Vice-Chancellor. After its report, a one-man committee with a retired bureaucrat looked into it. A team of educationists under his chairmanship reviewed the systems in Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Finally, the government decided to implement the system in phases. Of 7.68 crore new textbooks needed, 6.50 crore books had been printed at over Rs 200 crore by the time the regime changed.

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What has upset the new government?

The new textbooks had at least four references to then Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and his literary works. All books begin with the anthem he penned for the World Classical Tamil Conference, and have the logo of the conference at the end. In the Class X Tamil textbook, Karunanidhi is credited for being one of the main driving forces that led to Tamil getting the prestigious status of a classical language. It also prescribes, as additional reading material, portions of two works by Karunanidhi.

The J Jayalalithaa government said the new system is “inadequate to raise the standard of education”. “The cabinet has decided to form a committee to study as to how the quality could be raised,” a government statement said.

How has the battle proceeded?

The Assembly passed an amendment bill to defer the implementation of the common syllabus system till “anomalies” are rectified. This was, however, challenged in the High Court, which stayed the operation of the amendment in an interim order. The state then moved the Supreme Court with a special leave petition. The court asked the authorities to continue with the implementation as originally planned for Classes I and VI, and form an expert committee to examine the syllabus and textbooks for the rest of the classes.

Forced to distribute the already prepared books, the government instructed officials to paste opaque stickers over the content it found objectionable. It also appointed a committee headed by the chief secretary which submitted a report, as per the direction, to the High Court. The report criticised the syllabus as lacking in providing quality education.

What next?

On Monday, the High Court struck down the amendment and asked the government to implement the system for all classes from this academic year itself and distribute the textbooks by Friday. But the state government has decide to approach the Supreme Court again. As such, the future of the system, syllabus, textbooks and hundreds of thousands of students is not yet clear.

Indian education minister requires study of Hindu scriptures, tells critics to leave country

Indian education minister requires study of Hindu scriptures, tells critics to leave country
RSS Facebook July 20, 2011

Christian and Muslim educators have joined in a call for the removal of a government minister in India’s Karnataka state who is imposing the study of Hindu scriptures in government-run schools and telling critics of the policy that they should leave the country.

A delegation of Christian and Muslim leaders met with Hans Raj Bharadwaj, the governor of Karnataka, on July 19, asking him to dismiss Vishweshara Hegde Kageri, the state’s minister for school education, for asking the critics of teaching of the Bhagavad Gita in classrooms to “quit India.”

“By making such a statement, the minister has violated his oath of office,” said Imitiaz Ahmed, chairman of the Karnataka State Minorities Educational Institutions Management Federation. Sister Genevieve, secretary of the education commission of the Karnataka Regional Bishops' Council, argued that the classroom study of the Bhagavad Gita in a secular country “violates the freedom of religion” guaranteed under Indian constitution.

In Tamil Nadu, School Without Textbooks

In Tamil Nadu, School Without Textbooks

By Vibhuti Agarwal

After a day of hectic parleys in India’s national capital, the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in the city of Chennai on Wednesday to better acquaint herself with southern India, which has become a focus for growing U.S. trade and investment.

Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, right, with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, left, in Chennai, Wednesday.

Although her one-day visit to Tamil Nadu, the first ever there by a serving U.S. Secretary of State, included meetings with school students, Ms. Clinton probably did not get to discuss a unique feature of Tamil Nadu under the new Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa: school without textbooks.

This may sound like an innovative departure from the rote learning common in many Indian schools, but actually, it’s the result of the recent regime change in elections that led Ms. Jayalalithaa and her All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam to oust the incumbents and form a government in May.

Soon after taking office, Ms. Jayalalithaa’s government scrapped plans to introduce the new “uniform school education system” developed by her predecessor, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief M. Karunanidhi, according to education experts and reports in the Indian news media. The new system, under which a single board would oversee school curriculum and testing, replacing four different examination systems, was supposed to be implemented from the current academic year beginning June 1.

However, Ms. Jayalalithaa decided to delay the new system and stick with the old school curriculum, saying that there were problems with the textbooks. India Today reported that, among other things, she was unhappy that they contained a poem written by the former chief minister’s daughter. Educational experts also told India Real Time that the new chief minister felt that the textbooks, which The Hindu says contain descriptions of Mr. Karunanidhi’s achievements batting for the promotion of Tamil language as well as some writing by him, eulogized her predecessor.

As a result, children in Tamil Nadu started the school year two weeks late, in the middle of June. And when classes finally did begin, it was without school books.

Last month, the state government filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging a June order by the Madras High Court that would have forced the government to implement the uniform school system and use the textbooks developed for it. The Supreme Court ordered that the new system be implemented for first grade, or kids aged seven, and sixth grade, for kids aged 12, and formed a panel of experts to examine the curriculum for other classes. But this week, the Madras High Court passed an order requiring the state to begin distribution of the textbooks to all classes starting Friday. The Supreme Court committee is expected to submit its report next week.

The state government spokesman could not be reached for immediate comment. An AIADMK party spokesman also could not be reached for comment.

Education experts in the state say that as the chief minister attempts to seek the court’s help in undoing Mr. Karunanidhi’s legacy on the school curriculum, it is the students who are bearing the brunt.

Valli Arunachalam, principal of Chennai-based Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan School said that instead of discontinuing textbooks, the government should allow the books to be used while the school board works on deleting the controversial segments of the syllabus and replacing them with more neutral content.

“The state government has said schools will engage children in activity-based learning without textbooks till the court sorts out the issue,” she said. “It is a waste of time.”

S. Swaminathan, principal of the Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda College in Chennai, said the government should not use the education system to “settle political scores.”

He said around 100 million textbooks worth two billion rupees ($44 million) hve been printed for the uniform school system, most of which are presently in storage.

He said the committee to examine the state of the school syllabus was a good idea, but that the government should include its changes from next year rather than hold up learning this year. “We will appeal to the government to release the textbooks that have already been published,” he said.

Bihar to introduce GPS to locate schools

Bihar to introduce GPS to locate schools
It will help ascertain the actual location of schools to be upgraded from secondary to high school level
Submitted on 07/20/2011 - 08:17:15 AM
By M Shabnam

Patna: The Bihar government has decided to introduce global positioning system (GPS) to ascertain the actual location of schools to be upgraded from secondary to high school level.

Minister for Human Resource Development Department PK Shahi said that a survey was conducted and a list of about 700 schools was sent to the central government for upgrading secondary schools to high schools.

"Now we know the actual position of the schools through GPS. This exercise is likely to be completed by August 10, 2011," he added. The minister said the process was getting delayed due to callous attitude of the central government.

The Minister said the government has also decided to appoint one Urdu teacher in every school of the state. "The Urdu teachers will be appointed irrespective of the number of the students belonging to minority community," he said.

Human Rights Watch expresses concern at attacks on schools

Human Rights Watch expresses concern at attacks on schools
J. Balaji
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Asks government to outlaw such attacks and curtail the use of schools by security forces

The Human Rights Watch has expressed concern at the growing attacks by Naxals on schools and teachers in India, especially in some districts of Bihar and Jharkhand, and at the occupation of educational institutions by the security forces.

Global survey

The government of India and the State governments concerned should improve protection for students and teachers during such a naxal-police conflict by outlawing attacks on schools and curtailing their use by the security forces, the international watchdog said in a report, ‘Schools and Armed Conflict: A Global Survey of Domestic Laws and State Practice Protecting Schools from Attack and Military Use.' The report, which was released on Wednesday, is annexed with a 103-page chapter relating to the situation in India.

Schools disrupted

While Naxals blew up school buildings, the security forces disrupted education for long periods by occupying schools as part of the anti-Naxalite operations. The Human Rights Watch documented that at least 36 schools in Jharkhand and 23 in Bihar were attacked in 2009. These did not include schools occupied by security forces at the time of attack.

“Governments have been slow to update and align their domestic legislation with the explicit prohibition on attacks on schools under international criminal law,” the report said. They were also failing to account for the negative consequences for the children's right to education when the armed forces converted schools into bases and barracks.

“Children are entitled to go to school in a safe environment, even during the times of conflict,” said Bede Sheppard, author of the report and senior children's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Attacks on schools and the military use of schools jeopardise children's safety and education. An attack on a school is an attack on a child's future and on a country's development,” he said.

Armed conflict

The report said that on July 12 this year, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution relating to attacks on educational institutions in armed conflict and asked the U.N. Secretary-General to add parties that attacked schools or hospitals to the “list of violators” included in his annual report on children and armed conflict. “India is one of the countries the Security Council recommended to be placed on this list,” the report claimed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gita-in-school campaign sparks row in Karnataka

Gita-in-school campaign sparks row in Karnataka

Bangalore A four-year-old effort to teach Bhagavad Gita to students in primary and higher secondary schools in Karnataka has courted controversy on its final lap with several groups opposing a January 2011 order of the BJP government launching the programme in Kolar district. And the matter has been compounded by a remark by Education Minister Vishveshwar Kaggeri that people must “leave the country, if they do not respect the Bhagavad Gita”.

Kaggeri made the remarks on July 14 at a meeting in Kolar where the programme has reached after covering 26 districts in the state. Kaggeri has said the programme is not compulsory for all students, as it is in Madhya Pradesh. “Our circular only says that the programme is good and schools can cooperate. We are not funding it in any way,’’ he said.

Started as a private initiative of the Swarnavalli Mutt in 2007 the ‘teach Bhagavad Gita programme’ got regularised following endorsement by the state government.

While the Students Federation of India (SFI) launched an agitation this month against the programme for school students, the state minorities association has approached the High Court over the Kolar district order.

The January order of the Deputy Director Public Instruction (DDPI), Kolar, permitting the conduct of classes on Bhagavad Gita for school students has been challenged before the Karnataka High Court by the State Minorities Educational Institutions Managements Federation. The DDPI has granted permission to train teachers to conduct Bhagavad Gita classes which goes against the functioning of minority institutions, the federation has said.

“We are a secular country. How can the text of one religious group be taught in a school?” state SFI president H R Naveen Kumar said during a protest.

The Congress has accused the BJP of imposing saffron ideology on students.

“There needs to be a holistic approach where all religious texts are given equal importance. Something like a moral science class. Our advice to the BJP is don’t spoil the state, don’t saffronize,’’ state Congress leader G Parameshwara said.

Cops vacate schools at Posco project site

Cops vacate schools at Posco project site
indianexpress Express News Service , The New Indian Express
Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 12:34pm IST

PARADIP: Following the intervention of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), the district administration on Monday withdrew forces from four schools at the Posco project site.

The police have been occupying most of the classrooms in Balitutha Upper Primary School, Bijipur Upper Primary School, Kujang High School and Badagabapur Primary School at Badagabapur village for more than a year now. They were deployed at the project site to maintain law and order during the land acquisition process.

The students, on the other hand, have been enjoying a forced indefinite holiday. The worried parents had then requested the district collector, education department authority and also filed a PIL in the Orissa High Court seeking eviction of policemen from the classrooms, but in vain.

The school headmasters had also expressed reservations over the district administration’s decision to allow security forces to reside in the schools. Sources said, the students were scared to enter the school stocked with arms. Paradip SDPO Santanu Das said the forces vacated the four schools following directions from the State Government. NCPCR team led by Yogesh Dube had requested the Chief Secretary to withdraw police forces after visiting Balitutha school.

Ersama BDO Murlidhar Swain said policemen residing in the schools at Balitutha, Bijipur and Kujang have been shifted to Balitutha panchayat office, Jagatsinghpur barrack and community centre at Kujang respectively.

Another eleventh-hour GR leaves schools baffled

Another eleventh-hour GR leaves schools baffled
By: Alifiya Khan Date: 2011-07-19 Place: Pune

State asks schools to conduct cultural events marking 75th anniversary of legislative assembly; schools say government failed to give prior notice

There is no dearth of government resolutions being issued by the state; but checking if they are being adhered to, is not a matter the state deems it necessary to concern itself with. Most school principals griped about the government's proclivity to issue GRs, but doing precious little about hauling up schools who violate them.


Diktat? The new GR categorically states that all schools, whether private
or government-run, have to compulsorily carry out cultural programmes.
Representation pic

What's worse; school education officials say there is no provision to take action against errant schools.
The latest to irk school principals was the GR that was sent yesterday asking schools to hold cultural events and essay competitions today (July 19), to mark the platinum jubilee of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.
Most schools said, far from organising such events, they had not even received the notification.

"No such GR has come to our notice. If we are to organise any events, we should at least be told about it," said Kamini Saxena, principal of Kalmadi Shamrao Primary School. Lily Patel, principal of Sardar Dastur Boys High School, too confirmed that they hadn't received the GR copy. "We do check the government website from time-to-time to keep ourselves updated, but we haven't noticed this GR. Nor have the government authorities sent it to us. Now, it won't be possible to organize this event as we need to inform students and teachers about topics for essay competition, take list of interested students and chart out the timings. The organising takes at least two to three days," she said.

This GR specifically states that all kinds of schools whether private or government-run have to compulsorily carry out these programmes. The GR states that on July 19, schools must organise essay and public-speaking competitions. Besides that, schools and colleges are expected to conduct year-long events around this theme.
Meena Chandavarkar, principal of New India School, said that the events were simple and could be organised, but it should have been notified in advance.

"It's not all that difficult. But the government has a penchant for last-minute GRs which should stop," she said.
M R Kadam, primary education officer, didn't know the details of the latest GR. "It must have come to our office but I haven't read it properly. It will be sent out to all local offices, who will then forward it to schools," he said.

Past GRs
> Recently a GR issued by school education department said all schools should uniformly open on June 15. But even after getting a list of schools that opened on June 13, the education officers said no action would be taken against such institutions, which rendered the GR useless.

> Between May 2010 and August 2010, the school education department came out with GRs on fee hikes, each one turning the last on its head. Even when asked about a GR on private unaided schools not being able to hike their fees without parents' consent in August 2010, the education minister had said he wasn't sure if the GR was completely applicable. No action was taken against a single school that violated norms mentioned in GR on fee hikes during this period.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Maharashtra in elite group with 83% literacy

Maharashtra in elite group with 83% literacy
Malathy Iyer & Madhavi Rajadhyaksha, TNN | Jul 19, 2011, 03.04am IST
Article
Comments (14)
Read more:International Institute for Population Sciences|elite Literacy|Census 2011
MUMBAI: Literacy may be the most encouraging story to have emerged from the provisional figures of Census 2011. Maharashtra has in the last decade moved into the elite group of states that record over 80% literacy rates. It now stands alongside states such as Kerala and Mizoram, which have traditionally been known for their literate classes.

"There has been a remarkable ascent in literacy in India, especially in Maharashtra," said Dr P Arokiasamy of the Deonar-based International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS).

With 82.91% of its population now knowing how to read and write, Maharashtra has certainly made progress in the last decade. In Census 2001, only 76.88% of the state's residents could be classified as literates. Sceptics, however, point out that this increase is mainly due to the humble criteria for literacy: primary education.

In numerical terms, Maharashtra's population stands at 11.2 crore. Over 82 lakh-or 83% of the population that is over seven years of age-of these are literate.

The other highlight of this Census for Maharashtra is the fact that the urban-rural gap in education has narrowed further. At present, the gap stands at 12.75%-with the urban literate population standing at 89.84% and the rural populace at 77.09%. This urban-rural gap stood at 15.12% in 2001, pointed out Census India officials.

Dr Arokiasamy said, "Until two decades ago, in Maharashtra, only two in every three males and one in every 3 women were literate. Now, it looks impressive at four in every five men and two in every three women."

However, Census officials point out that the gender gap is still steep. "Although the overall gap between male and female literacy rate is nearly about 14% points in the state, this gap is 19 % in rural areas and 9% in urban," said an official.

But not all are impressed with Maharashtra's elevation into the group of India's most literate states. S Parasuraman, director of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, makes a distinction between education and literacy. "While literacy has increased, it doesn't necessarily mean education has increased. Things are definitely improving as more people go to school and are retained there thanks to the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme. However, there is a high drop out at the end of elementary education, which needs looking into," he said.

Incidentally, there are two reasons for Maharashtra not registering a better literacy rate. "First, there is a sizeable number of 50-years-plus group which never went to school. Moreover, there is a negative population growth resulting in fewer children being born. These two contrasts are responsible for Maharashtra's failure to register a better literacy rate," said Dr Arokiasamy.

Samacheer kalvi from this year: HC

Samacheer kalvi from this year: HC

Striking down the amending Act on common syllabus, which deferred the implementation of samach-eer kalvi from classes 1 to 10, the Madras high court on Monday directed the state government to distribute textbooks printed under the uniform system of education on or before July 22 to enable teachers to commence classes.

In its 81-page judgment, a division bench comprising chief justice M.Y. Eqbal and justice T.S. Siva-gananam said, “Section 3 of the Tamil Nadu Uniform System of School Education (Amendment Act 2010) is unconstitutional and ultra vires to Article 14 of the Constitution of India and is accordingly struck down.”

The bench said it was evident that the purpose and intent of the amending Act was in effect to do away with the uniform system of education under the guise of putting on hold the implementation of the parent Act, which the state was not em-powered to do more so when its validity had been upheld by the division bench, which judgment and order was confirmed by the SC.

The bench also rejected the plea made by advocate general A. Navaneethakris-hnan to suspend the operation of the order to enable the state government to file an appeal before the SC. However, according to advocate general, the state government will file an appeal against the judgment before the SC in a day or two.

Allowing a batch of petitions from K. Shyam Sundar and others, the bench said in terms of the recommendations made by the members of the committee constituted pursuant to the direction issued by the SC, the syllabus and textbooks shall be reviewed and the objectionable portions be ordered to be deleted and the materials or portions which were required to be included as per their suggestions may be added and supplied to students in the form of an additional booklet within three months.

The state shall notify the approved textbooks from among the textbooks already stated to have been submitted to the government on or before July 22, the bench added.

Setback for Jayalalithaa: School books praising Karunanidhi to stay

Setback for Jayalalithaa: School books praising Karunanidhi to stay
Published: Tuesday, Jul 19, 2011, 8:47 IST
By Kumar Chellappan | Place: Chennai | Agency: DNA

The two-month old AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu suffered a setback on Monday with the Madras high court ordering the implementation of the Uniform School Education Syllabus for Classes 1 to 10 from the current academic year itself.

A bench of Chief Justice MY Eqbal and Justice Sivagnanam struck down the amendments made by the Jayalalithaa government to defer implementation of the Tamil Nadu Uniform System of School Education Act (Samacheer Kalvi) that ushered in a common school syllabus.

The uniform system of school education was brought in by the previous DMK government led by M Karunanidhi in an attempt to bring all schools in the state under a common syllabus. In Tamil Nadu, there were four streams viz state board, matriculation, Oriental and Anglo Indian, following their own syllabus.

The AIADMK government which came to power in May 2011 postponed the implementation of the revised syllabus saying that some of the text books contained portions eulogizing Karunanidhi and the DMK.

The court directed the Tamil Nadu government to implement the uniform syllabus from the current academic year onwards and distribute the relevant text books to the schools by July 22. The court also ordered the government to set up a panel of experts in three months to remove the discrepancies and inadequacies in the new syllabus.

Teaching in schools under the directorate ofschool education in Tamil Nadu have almost come to a standstill with the AIADMK government not issuing any directive to school authorities regarding the syllabus to be followed for the current academic year.

The high court order sets at rest, though temporarily, the controversy over the uniform system of school education.

Navaneetha Krishnan, the advocate general, said the government would appeal in the apex court and seek a stay of the high court order.

Child labour tumbles out of closets after blasts

Child labour tumbles out of closets after blasts
Published: Tuesday, Jul 19, 2011, 6:00 IST
By Somita Pal & Menaka Rao | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

The multiple bomb blasts in the city last Wednesday have exposed the prevalence of child labour at the Opera House and Zaveri Bazaar areas.

One of those injured in the blasts is Indrajit Tiwari, a 16-year-old boy who was brought from his hometown of Basti in Bihar on the promise of a joy ride in the city of dreams but was instead employed at a kachori stall.

Sitting up in his bed in GT hospital’s ward 11, he quietly munches on an orange. His father Sarvan Kumar has been called from Uttar Pradesh to take the boy back. Indrajit, who was injured in the Zaveri Bazaar blast, had come with his neighbour, Shivprasad Verma, a month ago to “roam around Mumbai”.

“Verma, however, used the boy to help him run a kachori stall at Zaveri Bazaar. There was no one even sitting with the boy at the hospital on the day of the blast. We told the owner of the stall to have someone sitting with him at all times,” says Navnath Kamble, head of NGO Pratham’s rescue programme.

He says the NGO is looking for similar cases in other hospitals — like that of Dinesh Majhi, 13. “We want to ensure the children get compensation and their employers do not exploit them. We will see what action can be taken against the employers.”

Indrajit, who has sustained injuries on his hand and leg but is stable, says that he studied up to Std VIII and had come to Mumbai for a vacation. His father was shocked to know that his son was made to work. “Indrajit’s holidays were going on. Verma asked me to send him for a trip. I wanted him to have a darshan of Mumbadevi,” says his father, a farmer.

A bubbly child, Indrajit says he cannot wait to get back home. “I want to go home to my mother,” he says, smiling widely, promising that he will continue his studies. Recounting the day of the blast, he adds: “I was eating kachori at the time of the blast. I was taken to hospital by a group of people.”

Verma, however, defends the child labour charge, saying: “Indrajit would just help me bring the vessels from the room. I had not employed him.”

Another toothless panel getting ready

Another toothless panel getting ready
indianexpress Express News Service , The New Indian Express
Posted on Jul 19, 2011 at 11:54am IST

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Another Commission with no powers for punitive action, meant for the protection of child rights, is in the final stages of genesis. The rules of the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights Rules drafted by the Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University, Bangalore, were discussed and given a final shape by experts at the initiative of the State Government over the last weekend. The Child Rights Commission is supposed to safeguard child rights and examine all factors that inhibit the rights of children such as terrorism, communal violence, riots, trafficking, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, natural disasters, pornography and maltreatment of children and recommend remedial action. Besides, the Commission would be the monitoring agency for the Right to Education Act. However, the powers of the Commission is of a recommendatory nature with no powers for punitive action even after completion of inquiry into a particular case. The draft rules also do not give any powers to initiate disciplinary action against those who violate the recommendations or refuse to comply with the suggested remedial action. The Commission is mammothsized with one chairman and six members. As per the draft rules, ''the chairperson shall be paid a salary equivalent to the salary of the Chief Secretary and every other member shall be paid a salary equivalent to that of a Secretary to the State Government.'' In addition, "the chairperson and every other member shall be entitled to staff car for journeys for official and private purpose as per the staff car rules. They will be entitled to draw travelling allowances, daily allowances and dearness allowance appropriate to their pay,'' .s In spite of all the apprehensions regarding the limited powers of the Commission, what has been appreciated is the power given to the Commission to inspect any juvenile custodial home or any institution where children are housed,including orphanages. ''When there is a body which focuses on just children's issues, there are several areas where a direct intervention is possible,'' said Fr. Philip Parekkatt, director of Don Bosco Society. The Commission can recommend remedial measures in the case of children in need ofspecial care and protection;children in conflict with law and children of prisoners. Its functions also include dissemination of information about child rights, promote incorporation of the same in the school curriculum, train teachers, compile and analyse data on children and refer cases and issues of national and interstate importance to the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights as and when required. The Commission, is to function as an independent and autonomous body to safeguard the rights of children and study state policies that impact children and ensure that they comply with international child rights standards.

Monday, July 18, 2011

RTE: States can still do it with media backing

RTE: States can still do it with media backing
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Nobel laureate Amartya Sen's strong criticism of political India for its gross neglect of elementary education over the decades has revived the debate on the quality of school education and also the scope of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 in addressing the problem of “out-of-school” children, who are estimated to number about 14 crore. Speaking at a university function recently in New Delhi, the eminent economist said: “Our educational system remains deeply unjust.”

Noting that elementary education was neglected from the early years of Independence, he said the vision of the first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, for technological education was a boon for institutions such as the emerging Indian Institutes of Technology. But Nehru's attitude to primary education was “lamentable.” While he understood the importance of technological education the allocation of resources for primary education gave the impression that it was not considered high on the priority for spending.

Most serious articles on the RTE point out that the Act came into force in 2010, 60 years after the Directive Principles of State Policy of the Constitution provided for free and compulsory education for all children under 14. Does it mean there were no attempts by State governments before 2010 to get the provision implemented? No. At least two State governments in southern India attempted to initiate steps in that direction, each in its own way, within seven years of the Constitution coming into operation. The States were Tamil Nadu (then known as Madras State) and Kerala. Ironically, the Chief Ministers of both States did not succeed in these efforts, though for different reasons.
Education plans of two State governments

In Kerala, the Communist Party of India won the 1957 Assembly elections and formed its government with E.M.S. Namboodiripad as Chief Minister. The Governor's address to the State Assembly spelt out the government's policy on education, particularly in relation to the Directive Principles of State Policy enumerated in the Constitution. The Governor announced that the State government would shoulder the entire responsibility of providing elementary education to all children of school-going age under a phased programme.

As a prelude to this, the government had to address basic issues such as ensuring competent, contented and committed community of teachers, appropriate infrastructure and good school administration. The Governor said that the government had a proposal to standardise the salaries of the teachers serving in different types of schools throughout the State, eliminating all sorts of discrimination. In the following months, the government announced two of its most important, though controversial, legislative measures, the Land Reforms Bill and the Education Bill.

The political storm over the proposed pieces of legislation involving the Opposition parties and other opponents of the two Bills continued for several months. Vested interests in the two crucial spheres rallied against the bills. The Indian National Congress, the principal Opposition party in the State Assembly was behind the agitators. A substantial section of the press also backed the agitation. The protests soon intensified into a “Vimochana Samaram” (‘liberation struggle') and in 1959 led to the dismissal of the country's first Communist-led State government by the Jawaharlal Nehru government at the Centre under Article 356 of the Constitution. Several bills on education and land reforms were, however, made into laws by subsequent governments led by the Left parties. Massive literacy campaigns, a library movement, and adult education classes played key roles in taking education to the people, with the support of the press in the 1960s through the 1980s.

In Madras State, where the literacy rate was 20.86 per cent (Census of India, 1951) the State government spent on elementary school education Rs. 6.87 crore, which amounted to 11.5 per cent of the State's total revenue, during 1950-51. The enrolment rate for children was around 47.8 per cent. In 1953, Chief Minister C. Rajagopalachari introduced in the State Assembly the Madras Scheme of Elementary Education, dubbed as Kula Kalvi Thittam in Tamil (“Hereditary education policy”). The purpose was to implement one of the Directive Principles of the Constitution, which required the Indian state to educate all children.
Caste and education

Rajaji sought to introduce an educational policy based on family vocation. Under this scheme, students would go to school in the morning and learn things in the customary way. Later in the day they would learn the family vocations such as masonry and carpentry at home. The scheme drew fierce opposition from political leaders on all sides and was denounced as “casteist.” Periyar E.V. Ramasamy, founder of the Dravidar Kazhagam, social reformer, and a close friend of Rajaji, C.N. Annadurai, general secretary of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam that was to capture power in the State a decade later with the help of Rajaji, and a large section of the ruling Congress Party were in the forefront of the fight against the Madras Scheme of Elementary Education. Opponents and critics said it would perpetuate deep-seated, caste-based discrimination in society instead of promoting education in the right way. They saw in the scheme an attempt to put the “upper caste” children in a more advantageous position than the children of the oppressed sections of people, who were only expected to learn their father's trade.

Rajaji, however, believed his scheme would be more economical for the state in enrolling more children in schools as envisaged by the Constitution. The split in the ruling party intensified and the pressure from Dravidian parties mounted on the government. Rajaji was left with no option but to resign his post and Congress leader K. Kamaraj became Chief Minister in 1954.
Kamaraj's stellar role

Kamaraj, who himself had been deprived of education, played a stellar role in taking millions of poor, rural children to school. This is still remembered by people in Tamil Nadu. He not only introduced free education but also provided lunch for schoolchildren under a limited free Mid-day Meal scheme, a unique arrangement for the times. (Actor-politician M.G. Ramachandran, who became Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu decades later, went much further by launching the first State-wide free mid-day meal scheme in India.) The purpose was to prevent children from dropping out of school. Chief Minister Kamaraj arranged for free school uniforms and free textbooks as well. He successfully restored many schools. Over 12,000 new schools were also constructed during his tenure so that no poor rural student needed to walk more than three miles (4.8 km.) a day. He also took concrete steps to raise the standard of school education. Regular inspection of schools by departmental inspectors was also ensured. More teacher-training schools were added to existing ones. Teacher-parent associations were made more active. Sustained efforts by subsequent governments have raised Tamil Nadu's educational level quantitatively and qualitatively. One important reason for the success of Kamaraj's early efforts in the field of school education was the solid support the press, particularly Tamil newspapers, extended to him. No wonder that the literacy rate in Tamil Nadu in 2011 is 80.3 per cent compared with 20.86 per cent in 1951.

The literacy rate in India is 74.04 per cent, according to the Census of 2011. Thirty per cent of children drop out before completing five years of schooling. Around 50 per cent of children leave schools before finishing eight years of schooling. This happens for varied reasons, which include the lack of commitment by the Central and State governments, poverty, the massive presence of child labour, limited access to credit, lack of interest in education – and the poor quality of education. The media, now stronger than ever before, have a big role to play in fulfilling an unfinished task, a nation's cherished ambition.

readerseditor@thehindu.co.in

Implement uniform school syllabus: Madras High Court

Implement uniform school syllabus: Madras High Court
IANS | Jul 18, 2011, 08.04pm IST

CHENNAI: In a major set back for Tamil Nadu's AIADMK government led by J. Jayalalithaa, the Madras High Court Monday ordered implementation of a uniform system of school education for Classes 1 to 10 from the current academic year.

In a much-awaited judgment, the first bench of Chief Justice M.Y. Eqbal and Justice Sivagnanam struck down the amendments made by the Jayalalithaa government to defer implementation of the Tamil Nadu Uniform System of School Education Act that ushered in a uniform school syllabus for the students of matriculation and state board students.

The uniform syllabus was brought in by the earlier DMK government.

The court directed the Tamil Nadu government to implement the uniform syllabus from the current academic year onwards and distribute the relevant text books to the schools by July 22.

The court also ordered the government to set up a panel of experts in three months to remove the discrepancies and inadequacies in the new syllabus.

Reacting to the judgment, Advocate General Navaneetha Krishnan said the government would appeal in the apex court and seek a stay of the high court order.

Last month, the high court stayed the amendment to the Tamil Nadu Uniform System of School Education Act that deferred its implementation.

Citing the Rs.200 crore spent on printing text books, the court said the government can revise the syllabus.

On an appeal by the state government against the high court order, the Supreme Court last month said that in the event of a change in government, the interest of students must be kept in mind by the new dispensation while reversing any earlier decision on an academic issue.

The apex court also directed the Tamil Nadu government to set up an expert panel to study the syllabus and make recommendations.

The expert panel set up by the Tamil Nadu government July 6 told the high court that the syllabus needs lot of changes and cannot be used in the current academic year.

The high court has been hearing the case on a daily basis since then and delivered its verdict Monday.

Meanwhile, the state secretary of Communist Party of India (CPI) D. Pandian citing the absence of any critical comments about the state government in the judgement urged the state government not to go on appeal.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bratya forms 19-member panel to revamp syllabus

Bratya forms 19-member panel to revamp syllabus
TNN | Jul 17, 2011, 01.47am IST
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Read more:syllabus committee|Sunando Sanyal|Mamata Banerjee|Bratya Basu
KOLKATA: School and higher education minister Bratya Basu on Saturday formed a 19-member syllabus committee under the chairmanship of educationist Sunando Sanyal.

Taking chief minister Mamata Banerjee's approval, Bratya said, "The committee will revamp and upgrade existing syllabus in primary, secondary and higher secondary education system."

This year, following high cut-off marks in colleges, higher secondary students have faced hardships during the admission process as they could not compete with students from other boards. A section of teachers had blamed disparity in syllabus among the existing boards as one of the major reasons for state board HS students' lower scores.

The state HS syllabus is also stated to be over-burdened as compared to CBSE or ICSE. Hoping for a 'positive impact', a senior teacher of Hindu school said, "CBSE is a dynamic board. They could incorporate many changes with time, which the HS syllabus framers could not bring."

The HS syllabus is also alleged to be not in sync with the course required by Indian Institute of Technology- Joint Entrance Examinations aspirants. "Over a long time, academicians have claimed that HS syllabus was not in sync with the demands of IIT-JEE. Hopefully, the panel will keep in mind the requirements and propose changes accordingly," said another teacher.

Among those whose names figure on the panel are - Jyotsna Jalan from Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Shankarnath Bhattacharyya, Delhi professor Marmar Mukhopadhyay, eminent artist Jogen Chaudhury, Ballygunj Government School headmaster Rupak Homeroy, SCRT director Rathin De, Jadavpur University senior professor Aveek Mazumdar and Pratichi chief researcher Kumar Rana.

"The panel will meet next week to decide on the agenda. Recommendations will be submitted to the school education department," said a senior school education official.

Earlier, Bratya Basu was made the chairman of syllabus committee to look into possible changes and propose ways to upgrade the existing syllabus.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

'RTE Act to be implemented after clearing doubt'

'RTE Act to be implemented after clearing doubt'
Express News Service
Last Updated : 16 Jul 2011 11:36:43 AM IST

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Right to Education (RTE) Act will be enforced in the State after clearing all doubts regarding it and after discussions with the Centre, Minister for Planning and Economic Affairs K C Joseph said on Friday. He was speaking after inaugurating a seminar on the Right to Education Act organised by the Institute of Parliamentary Affairs.

Practical constraints in fixing six years as the minimum age for school admissions, as stipulated by the RTE Act, will be solved in a phased manner. Another issue is the change in teacher-student ratio to 1:30, which has created the fear that quite a few teachers might lose their jobs. ‘’But Once the Central law is practically implemented, more job opportunities will emerge,’’ the Minister said.

While presenting a paper at the seminar, former Ambassador T P Sreenivasan said the Right to Education Act is crucial in making education free and compulsory and it is capable of making revolutionary changes when implemented in the educational sector in India.

‘’This Act will not harm the rights ensured by the Constitution for Minority Educational Institutions. At the same time, it will effectively bridle those who try to commercialise the educational sector,’’ said ADGP Alexander Jacob, who presented a paper.

Dr A Sukumaran Nair, former Vice-Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University, in his presidential address, observed that developed countries have come a long way in scientifically monitoring the educational sector to strengthen the future generations. K Sivadasan Nair MLA welcomed the gathering. Institute of Parliamentary Affairs Registrar S Sumangaladevi proposed a vote of thanks.

Education scheme yet to cover all- 1 lakh plus out-of-school children in Assam

Education scheme yet to cover all
- 1 lakh plus out-of-school children in Assam
A STAFF REPORTER
Seeking education

Guwahati, July 14: More than one lakh out-of-school children in Assam are yet to be covered under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told the Assembly today. He was replying to a question by All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) MLA Sirajuddin Ajmal.

“According to the district information system for education (Dise) 2010-2011, altogether 1,24,577 out-of-school children are yet to be covered under SSA as on March 31, 2011,” Sarma said.

Dise, which is a key database on information about schools, enrolment, teachers and other school-related data, is compiled at the state level and then sent to the Union ministry of human resource development.

According to the district-wise list of out-of-school children in the state for 2010-11, Sonitpur is at the top with 14,892 such children followed by Dhemaji and Nagaon with 14,272 and 13,264 children respectively. Jorhat, Bongaigaon and Dima Hasao districts fare better than other districts with 732, 1,295 and 1,659 out-of-school children respectively.

Sarma said from 2008 to June this year, Assam had received Rs 80,670.89 lakh as central grant for the SSA and added that for the academic session 2011, altogether 3,56,71,366 free textbooks in 17 mediums and languages had been printed and distributed among 64,62,447 students.

Responding to another question from AIUDF MLA Majibur Rahman, Sarma said there were 7,691 single-teacher lower primary schools in the state. He also furnished the district-wise list of vacancies in the posts of upper primary and lower primary schoolteachers as on May 31, 2011, in reply to a question by Hafiz Bashir Ahmed of the AIUDF.

According to the list, a total of 7,800 posts of lower primary schoolteachers and 4,499 posts of upper primary schoolteachers are lying vacant in the state.

MCD to recruit 1,500 teachers

MCD to recruit 1,500 teachers

To implement Right To Education, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has decided to recruit 1,500 new teachers on contract basis to reduce the deficiency of teachers in its schools. The civic body has also modified its eligibility criteria to improve the standard of teaching. While earlier, only Class XII and PGT Diploma marks were counted, this time, matriculation results will also taken into consideration.

“We are looking for good teachers therefore, candidates who have scored well in Class X will be chosen,” said Mahendra Nagpal, Chairman of the MCD Education Committee. He informed that there are already 24,000 teachers in the MCD schools but there are requirements for more as due to RTE, more students will be joining schools.

In an overhaul of the selection process, applications will also be submitted online for the first time. Earlier, applications had to be submitted in zonal offices. According to officials of the MCD, the advertisement for the posts will be posted within 10-15 days, following which, people will be able to apply online.

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Talking about the new eligibility criteria, a senior official of the MCD said that earlier, Class XII result and Diploma in PGT results were given 50-50 value during recruitment but now the following criteria will be used-25 per cent of Class X marks, 45 per cent of Class XII marks and 35 per cent of PGT diploma will be taken into consideration.

“Of the 1,500 contractual teachers, 1,200 will be recruited for primary classes and the rest 300 will be recruited for nursery classes,” he added.

Mahender Nagpal, said that the MCD is trying to bring more transparency to the system by providing most of its services online. To this end, the MCD is posting details of attendance and midday meals served online. This year, people will also have the option of applying for admission online. Since under the RTE, no student can be denied admission, all online applications will be accepted.

RTE norms in Maharashtra may be diluted

RTE norms in Maharashtra may be diluted
Sandeep Ashar, TNN Jul 14, 2011, 03.19am IST

MUMBAI: Certain provisions in the Right to Education (RTE) Act could be diluted at the time of its implementation in the state. Senior ministers in the state Cabinet, who are affiliated to private aided schools and educational institutes, have expressed reservations regarding certain clauses incorporated in the Act, which was enacted by the centre in 2009 and has since been implemented in over 12 states.

The state school and sports department put forth a proposal regarding business rules for implementation of the Act in the state. A presentation was made to the Cabinet on the proposed rules. Sources said that while a detailed discussion on the matter was deferred, a section of ministers spoke against some of the provisions.

These ministers expressed apprehension regarding a provision to reserve 25% of seats at the time of admission to grade I for students from economically weaker sections residing in areas near private unaided schools. There has been an opinion that students from such sections would find it difficult to adapt to the culture in private schools in uptown areas.

Reservations were also raised regarding the make-up of the school management committees (SMCs) proposed for state-run and private aided schools. A 75% reservation for parents is proposed in the Act. The SMCs are expected to review the performance and financial accountability of the institutes, among other issues related to the management. While the original act advocated appointment of parents as head and co-chair of the SMCs in state-run and aided respectively (in the case of aided schools, it was later decided to retain management representatives as heads of SMCs), some ministers have raised objections regarding this too.

Sources, however, said that these provisions formed the crux of the Act, which endorsed free and compulsory education for all children in the 6-14 age group.

The proposed rules also endorsed the extension of elementary education up to the Std VIII as RTE advocates right to education up to that grade. Primary education in the state is from Std I to VII. According to sources, there are certain reservations regarding this too.

The opposition has come despite objections from private aided school managements being considered while drafting the business rules. Sources said that a demand has now been raised for a special Cabinet meeting to discuss RTE in depth.

A section of ministers has expressed apprehensions on a provision to reserve 25% of seats at the time of admission to Grade I for students from economically weaker sections.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Eradication of child labour: HC seeks status of implementation

Eradication of child labour: HC seeks status of implementation
Harish V Nair, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, July 14, 2011

The Delhi high court on Thursday expressed unhappiness at the way the Delhi government went about implementing its directions on eradicating deployment of child labour in various industrial and business units in the Capital. A bench of chief justice Dipak Misra and justice Sanjiv Khanna has asked the additional solicitor general of India AS Chandhiok appearing for the centre and the Delhi government to file an affidavit within two weeks on compliance of the court directions.

The court wanted to know the number of child labourers rescued after its directions in 2009, number of employers from whom the fine ranging from R50,000 to R20,000 has been collected and for what purpose the funds were being utilised.

This was after lawyer HS Phoolka, amicus curiae (lawyer assisting the court in the matter) submitted that though 1,428 children had been rescued, fine had been recovered only from 222 employers and this could hardly prove to be a deterrent against employment of child labourers.

Phoolka also told the court that there was no clarity on for what purpose the recovered funds were being used. "Why isn't there no clarity? What do you do with the fund? Why the orders to impose hefty fines on employers not being implemented properly? Please file an affidavit stating all this in two weeks," justice Misra told Chandiok.

"The funds recovered shall be used only for the welfare of the rescued child, their rehabilitation and education," the court said.

"Employment of child labour is a national phenomenon. Unless strict steps are taken it cannot be put to an end,” the judge added.