Saturday, March 31, 2012

Another door opens

Another door opens
Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty

The mosque inside the Anglo Arabic School building in Old Delhi area. The 350 year old school is undergoing renovations and will soon be open for girls. Photo: S_Subramanium
S_Subramanium The mosque inside the Anglo Arabic School building in Old Delhi area. The 350 year old school is undergoing renovations and will soon be open for girls. Photo: S_Subramanium

The premier minority boys' institution, the 350-year-old Anglo-Arabic Senior Secondary School in Delhi, is all set to allow Muslim girls to seek admission

History is being silently made in a chaotic nook of the National Capital.

The 350-year-old Anglo Arabic Senior Secondary School in Delhi's Ajmeri Gate — a landmark institution in terms of minority education in the region since the Mughal times through present-day India — has finally decided to open its doors to Muslim girls from the coming session.

The Reason is simple. Times have changed.

This historic move by the school which had produced the likes of Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of Aligarh Muslim University, and Liaqat Ali Khan, the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, is great news for girls of the adjoining walled city where many conservative families still prefer not to send their daughters to far away schools.

Atyab Siddiqui, honorary manager of the institution, admits there is resistance from some people in the walled city against the decision of having a co-educational institution but notes that the voices of wisdom have overpowered these dissenters. “We passed the resolution in our Board meeting this past Monday, and we shall be issuing admission forms soon. More and more Muslim girls should be educated. To do that, we should open our own institutions to them,” says Siddiqui.

Some years ago, Anglo-Arabic opened its primary school to girls and is serving the walled city pretty well. “The scramble starts after they finish primary school.” Apart from the Rabia Girls School in Ballimaran, there are hardly any schools with quality education for girls. The Urdu-medium schools in the area are in a shambles. “So there has been a demand from the old city, we are responding to that now,” says Siddiqui. It all began with a recent report submitted to the school authorities by Faiza Nissar Ali, the school's first woman teacher. The report said Muslim families were willing to send their daughters to a boys' school provided the standard of education and level of discipline is maintained and the school provides an environment in which the girls feel secured and protected. The change in conservative views also comes because people realise there is no getting away from co-education in higher education in colleges and universities.

The nitty gritties are still being decided. “Whether we should have separate classes for the girl students, whether we should begin by opening the school to 20-25 per cent girls on merit basis (as suggested by Faiza's report), how to go about advertising it, how to make the huge nine-acre premises of the school safe for girls, etc. are still being worked upon,” says Siddiqui.

However, one thing is clear: the school will have more women teachers. “We now have nine women teachers; with girls being admitted to the school, we will definitely have more of them,” he says.

The school, aided by Delhi Government's Directorate of Education, began as a madrassa way back in 1696, started by Ghazi ud-Din Khan, a powerful general of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb whose son went on to become the first Nizam of Hyderabad. The space outside the city gates was chosen by Ghazi ud-Din Khan to give the boys a quiet atmosphere for studies. The British later reorganised it as Anglo Arabic College and began English education. The tomb of Ghazi ud-Din Khan today lies protected by the Archaeological Survey of India, inside the school premises.

Delhi: ‘37% govt school toilets very dirty'

Delhi: ‘37% govt school toilets very dirty'
Last Updated: Friday, March 30, 2012, 12:07
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Tags: Delhi, Government Schools, NGO CRY
New Delhi: Thirty seven percent of toilets in the capital's government schools are "very dirty" and in "subhuman" condition, a survey done by the NGO CRY has revealed.

The study by Child Rights and You (CRY) Thursday said 318 toilets were scrutinised in 44 schools across the city and the situation was the worst in schools in the northwest, northeast and outer districts of Delhi.

Interestingly, the survey revealed that 15 percent of the toilets in all the schools were reserved for staff and were much cleaner.

"Due to the poor state of toilets, children of these schools have to urinate in the open," said the study.

"Toilets reserved for school staff can't be used by the students…the gates of these toilets remain locked. These toilets were cleaner," said the study.

Further, despite most schools having permanent staff for cleaning toilets, only 39 percent did their job while the remaining 61 percent toilets were cleaned twice or thrice a month, it said.

The survey said 76 percent toilets had unhygienic and dirty water supplied in their taps while 21 percent had blocked sewerage or broken doors or cracked walls in need of immediate repairs.

"India has signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 21 years ago and introduced the Right To Education Act, (but) the above findings show that the dream of achieving a child friendly state is still far and how policies are being violated in government institutions itself."


NCPCR summons Director of Education

NCPCR summons Director of Education
New Delhi, March 27 2012, DHNS:

The Directorate of Education has imposed a fine of Rs 20,000 on Sardar Patel Vidyalaya School at Lodhi Road for screening children for admissions in 2011.

According to sources, the DoE has fined the school after the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) pulled up the director for not taking action against the erring school since a year.

Two parents had filed complaints against the school authorities, who were screening children for admissions in class II and V last year.

“The complaint was forwarded to the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights. The DoE kept delaying the issue saying the file is being processed. But NCPCR officials decided to take cognisance of the issue and summoned the Director of Education to present himself before a panel during this week,” said the source.

The NCPCR notice issued to DoE on March 23 states, “This commission is conducting a hearing in the matter pertaining to harassment of students aged nine and seven by Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, Lodhi Road by calling them for written admission tests and denying them admission. The director has been summoned before the bench on March 27.”

But DoE imposed the fine only on Monday to ensure that the director has proof to counter his argument with NCPCR officials, allege the source. DoE officials declined to comment on the issue saying it is an internal matter.

3.37 lakh have left government schools: study

3.37 lakh have left government schools: study
Special Correspondent
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The Hindu

Even as a law is enacted to guarantee eight years of free and compulsory education to children, the flow of children out of government schools and into private schools seems incessant in the State.

As many as 3.37 lakh children have left government schools since the 2008 Assembly elections till 2010-11, while enrolment in private schools rose steadily in the same period, according to a study by India Governs Research Institute.

Currently, 22 per cent of all schools in the State are privately owned.

The study on educational status in Assembly constituencies across the State, released on Thursday, says that there were 35.37 lakh children in government schools from classes I to V in 2008-09, while only 32 lakh of the same batch remained in school in 2010-11.
Gender factor

“The number of children in private schools has gone up since 2008-09. For the boys, the number has gone up from 36 per cent in 2008-09 to 42 per cent in 2010-11,” says the study. The percentage of girls in private schools has gone up from 33 per cent in 2008-09 to 38 per cent in 2010-11, which also points to a gender bias in sending children to private schools.

The enrolment of girls was higher than that of boys in only eight constituencies. In all, 2.63 lakh fewer girls than boys enrolled in recognised schools in 2010-11 from classes 1 to 8. As many as 14,092 schools (24 per cent) have no toilets for girls.
Northern districts

The highest number of children leaving government schools, over 10,000, is reported from the Chittapur and Chincholi constituencies, both in Gulbarga district and reserved for the Scheduled Castes.

They also had the highest number of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes children leaving government schools.

Interestingly, Chincholi constituency received the highest grant in 2010-11 of Rs. 79.26 lakh.

The 10 worst constituencies, which have the highest number of children leaving government schools, are all from North Karnataka districts.

The 10 worst constituencies with poor basic infrastructure such as drinking water and toilets are also in the northern districts.

There are 10,187 private unaided schools in the State, of which 23 per cent are in Bangalore district. Gulbarga North has the next highest with 187 private schools in the constituency.
Drop out?

The study warns, however, that all those who leave government schools are not necessarily moving to private schools.

“Though the number of children in private schools in the same batch went up during this period, the increase does not account for all children leaving government schools,” says the report, suggesting that a section of them may have dropped out of school altogether.

Even as Right to Education mandates reservation of 25 per cent of seats in private schools to children from economically and socially backward groups, only nine MLA constituencies have met the norms in Class 1 enrolment in 2010-11.

The study is based on data sourced from District Information System for Education.

76% cases of Right to education act violations remain unresolved

76% cases of Right to education act violations remain unresolved

NEW DELHI: Two years after the government's flagship education programme came into force, its monitoring body has not been able to resolve as much as 76 per cent cases of violation of the right to education (RTE) Act, a right to information (RTI) document reveals.

Promising free and compulsory education to children from the age group of 6 to 14, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, brought about hope for change in the lives of children, and in the future of the country.

While things have more or less gone in the intended direction since the act's implementation two years ago, there have been a number of violations. And the chief monitoring body, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), has not been able to keep up with the breaches.

An RTI query reveals that over the last two years, the NCPCR received 2,850 complaints regarding the RTE Act. However, it has been able to resolve just 692 cases, or just 24 per cent of the entire lot, by now.

Breaking down the numbers year-wise, from April 1, 2010, to March 31, 2011, the commission received 1,089 complaints, of which it resolved 592 cases.

And from April 1, 2011, to March 16, 2012, the commission could only resolve a mere 100 of the total 1,761 complaints received.

Umesh Gupta of ActionAid India, who filed the RTI application, told IANS: "Not only is the data shocking, but the numbers actually denote the lowering efficacy of the NCPCR in monitoring the proper implementation of the RTE Act over the two years."

Despite what looks like a dismal performance, Delhi seems to be better off than most other states. According to the document, in 2011-12, of the total 517 complaints received from Delhi, 80 were resolved.

In Tamil Nadu, of the 15 complaints, three were taken care of; and in Uttar Pradesh, of 59 complaints, seven were acted upon. A case each was resolved in Maharashtra and West Bengal from where the number of complaints have been 132 and 99 respectively.

However, in states like Andhra Pradesh, from where 780 complaints were received, none has been resolved. Nor has any case been resolved in Odisha (35 cases), Haryana (17) or Assam (12).

Among the cases resolved by the NCPCR was that of a child being beaten by the teacher for not wearing the school tie in Uttar Pradesh. A notice was issued to the district magistrate regarding the matter.

In another case, Unnati Malik, a Class 7 student of K.R. Mangalam School in Delhi was detained - a violation of the RTE Act, which says no child can be detained until Class 8. The principal of the school was issued a notice.

Odisha Govt to formulate career policy for para teachers

Odisha Govt to formulate career policy for para teachers
Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bhubaneswar: Coming under pressure from both the Opposition and Treasury bench members, the Odisha ggovernment on Friday conceded one of the important demands of the Gana Shikshak Sangh, the members of which were on hunger strike before the State Assembly.

School and mass Education minister Pratap Jena, while replying to the admissibility of an adjournment motion on the problems of Gana Shikshaks, Shiksha Sahayaks the House, said hta the that the state government would formulate a Career Advancement Policy (CAP) for the Gana Shikshaks.

He said an inter-departmental committee comprising of Secretaries of the school and mass education, law, planning and coordination and finance would formulate the CAP and related issues regarding making these teachers regular government employees.

Jena said that in view of the Central government winding up the Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) centres on March 31, 2008, the state government rehabilitated the Education Volunteers engaged in the EGS centres under the government and NGOs as Gana Shikshaks (para teachers). They were given emoluments out of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan grants. Since the qualification of these teachers was matriculation during their engagement, they had to give undertakings to undergo CT training and pass Plus Two to be eligible to become the Shikaha Sahayaks.

He said meanwhile the state government has organised a CT training scheme under the Distance Education programme and already hiked the monthly emoluments for both the untrained Matric CT, Trained Matric CT and Plus Two CT trained Gana Shikshaks.
Even they were given monthly emoluments during the training period.

The emoluments of trained GSs have been increased to Rs 3,200 per month and the untrained Matric GSs are given increased emoluments to the tune of Rs 2,700.
However, it has been decided that the trained GSs would be appointed as Sikhyasahayaks in due course considering their experience, he said.

On the demands of the Sikhya sahayaks to appoint all Junior teachers and Shikshasahayaks as regular teachers against vacancies, the minister said that after completion of satisfactory and continuous service for three years, it was decided to appoint all eligible teachers as regular teachers under Zilla Parishads.

So far 31,321 Sikhyasahayaks have already been appointed as regular teachers, he said, stating that there was no justification for going for agitation.

He said according to the norm envisaged in the Right to Education Act, Odisha needed another 51,405 additional teachers in the primary level and steps were being taken to fill up the posts. However, on the demands from teachers and lawmakers, the state government has proposed to appoint one teacher against each class with one reserve teacher up to Class V and given a proposal to the Union HRD ministry to approve it to provide funding.

No admission to 70 pc kids in MCD schools, says survey

No admission to 70 pc kids in MCD schools, says survey
New Delhi, March 30 2012, DHNS:

At least 70 per cent children were denied admission in Municipal Corporation of Delhi schools in three districts for not being able to produce documents such as transfer certificates local resident proof, immunisation card or birth certificate, states a survey.

The survey was conducted by Alliance for People’s Rights group along with CRY, a child rights group in four backward areas within Tahirpur village and Ghazipur village in east Delhi, Mahavir Enclave and R K Puram in south-west Delhi and Sangam Vihar in south Delhi on RTE violations.

The report has been collated from information derived from RTIs, the BJP and Congress manifestos for 2007 elections, MCD budget for 2010-11 and 2011-12 and newspaper reports.

The report further states that 41.5 per cent of children going to such schools were asked to pay an admission fee and monthly fee but no receipt against payment was given to parents. Also, 11.32 per cent children had to pay towards a monthly parent teacher association fund.

Vijaylakshmi Arora, director of policy and advocacy, CRY said, “There have been gross violations of several provisions of the Right to Education Act over the last two years.

“The irony is that around a dozen states are yet to put in place a monitoring mechanism. So, we do not even know the exact extent of violations of the provisions of this Act.”

The survey further highlights the confusion about the actual number of schools functioning under the MCD.


The survey states, “The total number of schools as of August 31, 2011 is 1,730. Of these, 744 are co-educational and have one shift. There are another 493 schools which run two shifts. But according to the list on the Delhi Department of Education’s website, there are still 1,780 schools.

“In news reports over the period 2010-12, the number of schools cited by MCD officials, including the MCD Education Committee chairman, variously are 1,746, 1,790, 1,729 and 1,750.”

During the 11th Five Year Plan for Delhi, the MCD had started 35 new schools and proposed to open 20 schools in 2011-12. However, the website has not indicated any information on how many schools have been shut down so far.

“In recent years, closure of government schools happening across several states is also emerging as an important issue which needs to be addressed as this directly affects efforts to provide greater access to education especially to marginalised sections of our society,” Yamini Aiyar, director, accountability initiative, centre for policy research.

Meghalaya forms advisory body to implement right to education

Meghalaya forms advisory body to implement right to education
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Shillong, March 29:

The Meghalaya Government has constituted a state advisory council mandated to advise the Government on the smooth implementation of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE), officials said today.

Chaired by the Education Minister, Mr R. C. Laloo, “the state advisory council is mandated to advise the State Government on issues pertaining to the smooth implementation of the RTE in the State,” a recent notification in this regard said.

The principals of leading schools and colleges in the State will be non-official members of the body.

Eight official members to the council include the executive chairman of the Meghalaya Board of School Education (MBoSE), officials from the law and social welfare department, besides the principal secretary of the education department, officials said.

Further, the State Government has also constituted a Right to Education Protection Authority (REPA) aimed at safeguarding the rights of children to free and compulsory education.

Mr Kerma Lyngdoh, former Pro Vice-Chancellor of North Eastern Hill University, heads the REPA and is assisted by Mr Carmo Noronha, director of Bethany Society, and Ms Farida Warjri, head lecturer, St Edmund’s social welfare department.

The REPA is also mandated to inquire into complaints with regards to the RTE in Meghalaya.

The implementation of the RTE is expected to begin from 2013 in Meghalaya after the Government re-drafted certain parts of the approved rules, which stakeholders in education had vehemently opposed.

The Committee on subordinate legislation tabled its report on the floor of the House recently with recommendations and suggestions to effectively implement the RTE Rules, 2011.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

MCD councilors get class in RTE

MCD councilors get class in RTE
Neha Pushkarna, TNN | Mar 29, 2012, 02.08AM IST

NEW DELHI: Sitting and aspiring MCD councillors of Trilokpuri area got a lesson in RTE on Wednesday. At a public meeting organized by JOSH, locals flocked to meet them with lots of suggestions and many complaints about the lack of educational facilities in their east Delhi colony. All that the candidates could muster as a response was a slew of promises most of which were shrouded in ignorance about the provisions of the right education. While new candidates were simply unaware of the soaring problems in the area like inadequate schools, a shortage of teachers and the lack of toilets, seniors in the fray insisted they could set everything right. Some female candidates also chose to sit quietly while their husbands spoke.

Originally a resettlement colony of lower middle class families, Trilokpuri has over 30 MCD schools most of which are in a bad shape. Parents complain education is a distant dream even for those enrolled in the schools. "There are so few teachers in most schools. It is also difficult to meet them. There is no discipline. The school in a nearby block has two toilets which have been finally opened for girls. But boys are told to feel free to use a corner of the playground," said Parvati, one of the mothers who had come to be a part of the Jan Manch held at block 13 of Trilokpuri. She added, "We can't afford private schools. I know there is a quota for our children but then who follows it?"

Candidates from different parties contesting for elections from Trilokpuri, Dallopura and Kalyanpuri had gathered to win over the electorate on Wednesday. Samajwadi Party candidate Praveen Messi contesting from Dallopura was the first to commit herself to the cause of education.

"Education will be the most important thing for me if I am voted to power," she declared. When a woman in the audience told her about the problem of gambling in schools, she promised, "If I find any school where gambling is happening, it will be shut down. I am not your neta...I am your mother, a sister, your family. You have to give me just one day that is April 15 (election day) and I will be there for you 24X7 for next five years." After her, BJP's Ramcharan Gujrati and Congressman Dr Ashok Chauhan enlisted what their party had done and where their rival had missed.

Sitting councillors - BSP's Surjeet Singh from Trilokpuri and Congress' Anjana Parcha from Dallopura - agreed there was lot to be done for proper implementation of RTE. But Singh seemed keen to count his past laurels and Parcha said she wished she had been reminded earlier. When the coordinator asked her if she would include education as one of the issues in her manifesto, she replied, "Aap teen mahine pehle batate toh main zarur koshish karti. Ab toh party ka manifesto ban gaya hoga (Had you told me three months ago, I would have definitely tried. The party manifesto would be ready by now)."

Singh also got his wife, Sunita Rawat, contesting from Mayur Vihar Phase I to be a part of the discussion. However, Singh did all the talking while Rawat sat attentively. So did Pushpa from BSP who is contesting from Dallopura. She hardly shared her views though her husband, Chandraveer, assured the locals, "Main Pushpa ka pati ko lekar koi bhi samasya ho toh mere paas aayiega (I am Pushpa's husband. Come to me if you have a problem related to education)."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

In poll season, candidates ready to debate Right to Education

In poll season, candidates ready to debate Right to Education
Neha Pushkarna, TNN | Mar 28, 2012, 02.28AM IST

NEW DELHI: It's been two years since the Right to Education was enacted, but government and civic agencies don't seem to be ready to implement it. Now, with municipal elections round the corner, Josh, an organization working for proper implementation of RTE, has decided to make the aspiring councillors shoulder their responsibility or at least know about it. The organization is bringing together nominees of different political parties for a 'Jan Manch' in Trilokpuri on Wednesday to find out their stand on education and to also respond to demands made by the public.

Saurabh Sharma, member, Josh, said candidates of Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party and Janata Dal (United), besides local people, are likely to be present for Jan Manch. The organization had already met up with the residents of the area to determine the shortfall in educational facilities. "We had a meeting with more than 200 locals to prepare a charter of demands which will be given to the nominees for election. As preparation for Jan Manch, a public meeting was held on March 17 where delivery of education in government-run schools was discussed and noted. We would ask them to include these demands in their manifestos," said Sharma.

MCD runs schools till class V across the city. These serve as feeder schools for Delhi government's own schools. The demands enlisted in the public meeting included recruiting adequate number of teachers, formation of school management committees, ensuring an effective grievance redress mechanism in schools, ensuring greater community participation, provision of clean and functional toilets and classrooms, adequate drinking water, proper seats for students, better quality of mid-day meals, inclusion and access to education for children with disability and facilities for sports, music and computer education.

"We thought it was the right time to take up the issue of RTE and make the poll nominees aware of its importance and urgency. School education is often ignored by political parties probably because children cannot vote for them. We will also have sitting Congress and BSP councillors besides the nominees to tell us what they have done and what they intend to do about schools if voted to power," said Sharma.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

State slashes funds for edu projects, but school teachers may get pay hike

State slashes funds for edu projects, but school teachers may get pay hike
Published: Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012, 8:00 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

The budget allocation for school education is Rs20crore less than last year’s.

The state government allotted Rs2,688.26 crore for two Centre projects on school education — Rs759.46crore for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rs500crore for Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), which addresses secondary education.
Sources from the state education department said this is a drop by Rs20.1crore compared to last year.

Experts say that the funds will not be sufficient to meet the requirements of several projects such as the Right to Education which are implemented under the SSA. The funds for SSA — the scheme is for children between 6 and 14 years — have been reduced from Rs780crore to Rs759.46crore, while the allocation for RMSA has been consistent at Rs500 crore. A total of Rs1,4268.80crore will be borne by the Centre for SSA. In RMSA, Rs450crore will be borne by the Centre.

The budget outlay proposed included the cost of infrastructure projects, quality improvement projects and teachers’ salaries.
S Deshmukh, director of SSA and RMSA, said that a major part of the funding goes for teacher salaries. “A total of 33% of the funding goes for construction-related work and 9% for salaries of administrative officers. A majority of the funds will go towards training teachers and better salaries,” he said.

Experts say the state has performed well in terms of infrastructure facilities for primary education but secondary education is still neglected.Arundhati Chavan, president PTA United Forum, said: “RTE has just started to take off and there are several projects under it that the state should look into. At such a time, the allocation should not have decreased.’’
Student-friendly budget

The provision for post-matric scholarship for girls and boys has increased from Rs90crore to Rs1,230.60 crore this year.

Bengal forms panel to enforce RTE Act

Bengal forms panel to enforce RTE Act
The new body will keep records of all children in the age of 6-14 yrs with municipal bodies to provide free and compulsory education
Submitted on 03/27/2012 - 10:35:40 AM
By Chandrabindu

Kolkata: With a view to ensuring judicious and rightful implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, the West Bengal government has decided to set up a Right to Education Protection Authority (REPA).

The new authority will remain functional until a State Commission for Protection of Child Rights—a statutory body to supervise implementation of the RTE Act—is formed.

The move comes two years after the implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, by the Central government.

From now on, the State Government would keep a record of all children between six years and 14 years of age with the help of local authorities such as panchayats and municipalities to ensure 100 per cent enrollment in schools along with compulsory and free elementary education.

According to the notification, the state government would now have to ensure the availability of a primary school to every child within one kilometre in rural areas and within half a kilometre in urban areas.

Once the primary education is over, the state would have to ensure that their upper primary education— that is from Class 4 to Class 8— could be offered within two kilometres of the child’s residence in rural areas and one kilometre in urban areas.

Keeping with the provisions of the Act, the age of admission to Class 1 in primary schools, too, has been raised from five years to six years. The schools would now also have to ensure special training to children who have dropped out and are being admitted into a class appropriate to their age.

Budget schools make business sense, too

Budget schools make business sense, too
Kalpana Pathak / Mumbai Mar 27, 2012, 00:08 IST

What is common between Jerry Rao, Shantanu Prakash, The Galas and Satya Narayanan R? They are selling the concept of budget schools in our neighbourhood.

Budget schools or the erstwhile government or municipal schools, aim to provide affordable education at minimum cost. These schools, as the players term it, will address the segment at the bottom of the pyramid.

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“Budget schools have been existing. But these are mostly the government schools. However, it is now that professional players are becoming a part of it. It is a very large market and will see good growth in the coming years,” said Partho Dasgupta, president, Educomp Schools.

The Shantanu Prakash-promoted Educomp Solutions, launched its brand of Vidya Prabhat Schools in 2009. These schools were later re-christened as Universal Academy, its budget school brand. Educomp runs 12 Universal Academies at present and plans to open 60-80 schools in the next five years.

It also runs Little Millennium and The Millennium School at the upper end of its school services bouquet. While Universal Academy is at a price point of anywhere between Rs 12,000 and 20,000 per annum, The Millennium Schools charge anywhere between Rs 60,000 and 120,000 per annum, depending on the location. Little Millennium targets the pre-school section.

“The bottom of the pyramid concept works here. The total number of students at the budget school level is very large and the opportunity it throws up is huge,” added Dasgupta.

Educomp says setting up a Universal Academy costs anywhere between Rs 5 and 10 crore, depending on the location. “However, Educomp investments are much lower with the asset-light model we use,” said Dasgupta.

These schools, players add, are for people who cannot afford the basic cost of education for their children.

It is the same view that Jerry Rao's Sujaya School endorses. Rao's Value and Budget Housing Corporation (VBHC), which is building affordable housing, will at the same time within the housing complex, construct a budget school. At present, only one school is operational in Bangalore. But in the next decade, Rao plans to take this to 300 schools.

“We plan to bring this concept on every complex. We have eight projects at the moment and by next year, we will have one school operational each in Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and National Capital Region,” said Priya Krishnan, CEO, VBHC Education Services.

Krishnan says setting up a Sujaya School (kindergarten-12) costs around Rs 10-11 crore. The schools follow the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) format and charge a fee of Rs 2,000 per month or Rs 24,000 per annum, per student. The school plans to have 40 per cent students via the scholarships it provides and 60 per cent on fees.

The concept of Budget schools, say industry players, is nothing but a new wine in an old bottle — an erstwhile state school segment which these players are making more attractive by employing better strategies.

Despite the low incomes (less than Rs 100 a day), many parents in the bottom of the pyramid segment are willing to provide private education for their children.

This has led Satya Narayanan R, promoter of Career Launcher an MBA test preparatory institute, to set up bottom of pyramid (BOP) schools.

“The need for quality and accountability is no less at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid,” according to Career Launcher. Career Launcher also runs the Indus schools which targets the middle class segment and has seen HDFC invest in these.

Another player, Navneet Publications India, pumped in Rs 45 crore in K-12 Techno Services Private limited, a Hyderabad-based school management company servicing around 67 state board schools in Andhra Pradesh.

The schools, with over 50,000 students in the affordable education segment, are run under the Gowtham Model Schools and Orchids brands.

“Navneet's transaction is partly driven by the fact that they want to be in the school space. And also that they wish to develop the content business. This will also be about getting into the school management business and build their own schools later,” said an analysts tracking the company.

Promoted by the Gala family, Navneet Publications, a dominant player in content and stationery segment, runs a publishing business predominantly in Gujarat and Maharashtra. This investment, say investors would allow Navneet to launch its products and services in Andhra Pradesh and give it a direct entry into the growing education segment.

However, an area where the players see huge potential, investors see none. To make a good quality school at an unusually low cost is a difficult concept, they say.

“I think it is difficult to have budget schools work in the long term. And if these schools talk about not compromising on quality of teaching, there has to be some way to manage the costs. At some point of time, someone has to pay a bit more if quality of teaching is to be better,” said the managing director of the Private Equity firm.

Players however, are not deterred.

It is a function of looking at the concept from the perspective of an opportunity cost. “One can stretch the asset by using the same land and building and generate adequate volume. If may not be a very profitable venture, but will certainly be self sustaining and may attract investors too in the long run,” says Krishnan.

Maoists restore promotion of education in Palamu in wake of public ire

Maoists restore promotion of education in Palamu in wake of public ire
Palamu, Mon, 26 Mar 2012 ANI

Palamu (Jharkhand), Mar.26 (ANI): Public anger has had its impact on a Maoist outfit in Palamu, Jharkhand, and it sought to restore education in the area and urged villagers to reopen schools, with a motive to avert any kind of inconvenience caused to the students.

Generally, the teachers escape classroom sessions, citing fear of the rebels as the primary cause.

Since the past one-year, several schools in the region wore a deserted look, as most teachers refused to take classes and blamed the Maoists for damaging the academic cycle.

But things have changed suddenly and the situation has changed for the better. On the insistence of a Maoist outfit, the students lined up outside these dilapidated schools and broke all the locks.

"This is an example, but a lot of people have come to us with complaints, either students or teachers. The schools have been constructed, but students don't have any seats to sit on," said Sandeep Kumar, a Maoist commander.

These rebels have indirectly alerted the villagers to be careful of these teachers who are lackadaisical in their approach.

The students were thrilled as the schools reopened, since they could resume their education and avoid the hassles that they have faced over a period of time.

"The school was shut for a very long time and we are very happy that these schools have reopened. Our studies were affected due to this," said Sonal, a student.

Maoist insurgency has spread to interiors of 20 of India's 28 states.

The guerrilla war, waged mostly from the forests of central and eastern India by ultras of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist, now poses the biggest internal security challenge, say analysts.

Hundreds of people have been killed and injured in the violence, perpetrated by both the rebels as well as security forces in counter operations.

Maoists have also significantly increased their presence in tribal and rural regions in the states of Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Orissa. (ANI)

Record sum allocated to school education

Record sum allocated to school education
Meera Srinivasan
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Free uniform and notebooks; compulsory for schools to reserve 25% seats for children from poor sections

The State Budget gives a major boost to school education, with the government earmarking a record sum of Rs.14,553 crore for it — the highest ever allocation made to any department in Tamil Nadu. The school education department will also focus on increasing enrolments and arresting drop-out rates, Finance Minister O. Panneerselvam told the Assembly on Monday.

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This year's Budget gives a thrust to the implementation of initiatives as part of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), in addition to implementation of the Right to Education Act.

The allocation ought to be seen in the context of the RTE Act that places huge emphasis on improving school infrastructure and quality of education. Interestingly, the Budget speech had a special reference to the clause on schools reserving 25 per cent of their seats at entry level to children from economically disadvantaged sections. “It has now been made mandatory for all schools to follow this rule which has been notified by the State government,” the Finance Minister said.

Of the total Rs. 2,000 crore set aside for SSA for the year 2012-13, the State will chip in with Rs. 700 crore, with the Centre providing the remaining amount. This means an increase of over Rs.100 crore as compared to the outlay for 2011-12. This, potentially, could speed up implementation of the RTE Act in the State, for the School Education Department sees the SSA as a vehicle to take the State closer to RTE goals. In regard to RMSA, which received nearly Rs. 1070 crore for 2011-12, the State has sought adequate funding from the Centre to help improve secondary education in Tamil Nadu.

While no specific points pertaining to Samacheer Kalvi or other pedagogical interventions were made, a host of other schemes were announced. A sum of Rs. 150 crore will go towards providing free notebooks to all students in classes I to X going to government and government-aided schools.

As was promised in the election manifesto, the government will distribute four sets of uniforms to students every year, beginning 2012-13. Boys from class VI upward will receive full pants instead of half pants and girls will receive salwar-kameez. The government will also commence supply of a pair of footwear to all students from classes I to X, a scheme targeting 81 lakh children. Students will also receive special educational kits this financial year. This includes school bags, geometry boxes, colour pencils and atlases. As a follow up to an announcement made earlier, special cash incentives will be given to students in classes X, XI and XII. As per the initiative, which seeks to arrest drop out rates particularly in higher classes, students in classes X and XI will have Rs.1,500 deposited in their names, and those in class XII will have Rs. 2,000 deposited. A total of Rs. 313 crore was invested in students' names in the current year and a sum of Rs. 366.7 crore will be invested in the coming financial year, benefiting 21.36 lakh students.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Goa midday meals lack nutrition: Comptroller and Auditor General

Goa midday meals lack nutrition: Comptroller and Auditor General
TNN | Mar 26, 2012, 03.57AM IST

PANAJI: School children did not receive the prescribed nutrition under the midday meal scheme in Goa, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India's report. A quantity lower than that recommended was served to the children for lesser number of days than required. There was no check on the quality too as the state monitoring committee for the scheme did not meet even once from 2006 to 2011.

The audit report states that during 2009-10 meals were served for 180 and 169 days, respectively, to 41,968 primary and 49,888 upper primary school children, as against the 200 and 220 days for primary and upper primary schools prescribed by norms.

The children were to be served meals comprising 100gm for the primary section and 150gm for the upper primary section. The CAG report notes that the actual quantities of food grains utilized for the meals were lower than required.

"Quantity of food grains served to children ranged from 79 to 95gm in primary schools and 140 to 143gm in upper primary schools, as against the prescribed quantity of 100 and 150gm of food grains, indicating that the prescribed nutrition was not provided to the children," the CAG report states. This resulted in non-utilization of the allocated 653.72 metric tones of foodgrains for the scheme in the year 2009-10.

The report notes that an administrative delay of one-and-half months in the implementation of the scheme during the year 2009-10 impacted the scheme's operation in Goa.

The CAG report further notes that the state-level monitoring committee for the scheme was expected to meet at least once every six months,the district and block level committees were to meet at least once a quarter and school-level monitoring committees were to meet every month. However, the audit discovered that these committees had never met during the period from 2006-11.

"The monitoring committees were to guide implementing agencies as well as monitor and assess the impact of the scheme," the report points out.

The CAG report also notes that assistant district education inspectors (ADEI) were required to pay surprise visits to primary schools and collect 100gm of food samples supplied by each self help group under the midday meal scheme in Goa during each month. The samples were to be submitted to the Goa Homescience College for testing. However, only 71 samples or 11% of the required quantity of 630 samples were collected.

"Due to shortage of staff, the Goa Homscience College has refused to accept food samples for analyses during 2010-11...Non-collection and non-testing of food samples were serious lapses as there was no check on the quality of food being supplied to students. Absence of quality control checks would result in supply of sub-standard quality of food to school children," the report warns.

Enrolment in govt schools declines: CAG

Enrolment in govt schools declines: CAG
TNN | Mar 26, 2012, 03.57AM IST

PANAJI: Over the last five years, while the enrolment in government schools decreased, the numbers in government-aided schools saw a significant rise, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India's (CAG) report. State officials attributed this trend to parents' preference for city schools.

The report showed a decrease of 11.40% in the enrolment in government schools in the state and noted an increase of 13.77% registered in government-aided institutions.

A review of enrolment in government and government-aided primary and upper primary schools was carried out by the CAG to ascertain the impact of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan of the central government for universalization of education upto Class 8.

The number of students in government schools in North Goa declined from 31,675 in March 2007 to 28,061 in March 2011. But the enrolment in government-aided schools rose from 57,070 in March 2007 to 64,932 in March 2011.

'The decrease in enrolment in government schools was due to the people's inclination towards English medium schools,' the CAG report stated. Insufficient infrastructure and lack of basic amenities in government schools have also been attributed to the decline in enrolment in these institutions.

According to the report, the state project director of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan said that the decrease could be on account of parents' preference to enroll their wards in city schools and migration of labourers to other areas.

The audit details show that the number of government schools in North Goa district went down from 651 in March 2007 to 644 in March 2011. On the other hand, the number of government-aided schools rose from 263 to 275 during the same period.

'Audit test checked the enrolment of students in schools in 20 selected Cluster Resource Centres of three blocks (Bardez, Pernem and Sattari). It was observed that the enrolment in the primary section in Pernem and Sattari blocks showed a decreasing trend over the last five years,' the CAG report stated.

Early Childhood Care and Education Policy proposed

Early Childhood Care and Education Policy proposed
Special Correspondent

It focuses on re-structuring the Integrated Child Development Services scheme

With the aim of providing integrated services for the holistic development of all children from the prenatal period to six years, the government has proposed a National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy that lays down the way forward for a comprehensive approach towards ensuring a sound foundation for every child. India has 158.7 million children in the 0-6 age group as per the 2011 Census.

Broadly, the policy focuses on re-structuring the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme and integrating early childhood education with the Right to Education Act to ensure a smooth transition into formal schooling. All service providers will have to be registered with the State governments to ensure quality of services provided.

Early childhood is acknowledged as the most crucial period in a person's life, when the rate of development is very high and foundations are laid for cumulative lifelong learning and human development. There is growing scientific evidence that the development of the brain in the early years is a pathway that affects physical and mental health, learning and behaviour throughout the life cycle.

Despite the existence of multiple service provisions, there is no reliable data available about the actual number of children attending the existing ECCE provisions and their break-up as per the delivery of services. Of the 158.7 million children in the below-six-years category, about 75.7 million children — 48 per cent — are reported to be covered under the ICDS scheme. Broad estimations indicate that a significant number is also covered by the private sector, besides some limited coverage by the NGO sector, for which there is no data available.

The quality of non-formal preschool or early childhood care and education imparted through these multiple channels is uneven, and varies from a minimalist approach to a mushrooming of accelerated academic programmes. This is largely an outcome of an inadequate understanding of the concept of ECCE, its philosophy and its importance among all stakeholders. This — coupled with inadequate institutional capacity in the system and an absence of standards, regulatory norms and mechanisms as well as a lack of understanding of the basic premise of ECCE — has aggravated the problem, observes the draft policy put out by the Ministry of Women and Child Development Ministry.

This ECCE policy will cover all early childhood care and education programmes and related services in public, private and voluntary sectors in all settings across regions. These services include anganwadis (AWC), crèches, play schools, preschools, nursery schools, kindergartens, preparatory schools, balwadis, and home-based care.

The policy seeks to universalise the provision of ECCE for all children, mainly through the ICDS scheme in the public sector and other service provisions across systems. The Anganwadi Centre would be repositioned as a “vibrant child-friendly Early Childhood Development Centre” with adequate infrastructure and resources for ensuring a continuum of the ECCE in a life-cycle approach and child-related outcomes. Conversion of AWCs into AWCs-cum-crèches with a planned early stimulation component and interactive environment for children below 3 years will be piloted. Young children with different abilities would be reached out to. Service-delivery models will be experimented for family, community, and NGOs.

To standardise the quality of ECCE available to children, basic quality standards and specifications will be laid down valid across public, private and voluntary sectors. A Regulatory Framework for the ECCE to ensure basic quality inputs and outcomes, across all service providers undertaking such services, will be progressively evolved at the national level and implemented by States in the next five years.

A developmentally appropriate National Curriculum Framework for the ECCE will be developed. It will promote play-based, experiential and child-friendly provision for early education and all-round development.

To sustain the multi-sectoral and inter-agency collaboration, a thematic ECCE Committee with experts will be formed under the ICDS Mission Steering Group initially and later formed as a National ECCE Council, with corresponding councils at the State level, and later at the district level. The council will be the apex body to guide and oversee the implementation of the policy as well as keep ECCE programmes consistent with the National ECCE Policy.

Governments dual stand on RTE slammed

Governments dual stand on RTE slammed
indianexpressBharath Joshi

BANGALORE: The befuddlement over implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act in the state still continues. Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda’s statement during the state budget presentation has only added to the confusion.

CM D V Sadananda Gowda said: “The government will be implementing the RTE Act from 2012-13, and will seek full co-operation from privately managed schools.” This has essentially made RTE dependent on private schools, much to the anger of educationists.

Dr Niranjan Aradhya, a fellow with the Centre for Child and Law at National Law School of India University, who has worked closely with the government over RTE issues, told Express that the state is not obligated to seek approval from private schools.

“The main application of RTE is on the state. The state is obligated to provide education regardless of compliance from private institutions. Implement the Act first, and then face the problems as they surface,” he said.

With no specific budgetary allocation made towards the implementation of RTE, he said that the provision of grant-in-aid to private schools up to 1994 has dimmed the hopes of the Act being implemented.

“This shows the dual stand of the government. By providing aid to private schools, most funds will go to them. Where is the money to implement the Act?" Dr Aradhya asked.

With the issue of reimbursement of 25 per cent fees for underprivileged children in unaided schools still burning, calls for superceding private schools have come to the fore.

“This clause holds good only in cities and towns. There is a provision in the Karnataka Education Act, 1983, to supercede the management of private institutions. However, we will not have a clear picture until the state notifies the rules for implementation,” said a senior educationist.

Noted Kannada writer and thinker K Marulasiddappa said: “The RTE is meant for underprivileged children. Why even ask private schools? The government should force them. It is a farce, as it suggests that the government is not willing to enforce it, or that it wants the RTE to benefit private schools.”

School, sans a building in Ajmer

School, sans a building in Ajmer
Kshitiz Gaur, TNN Mar 16, 2012, 03.06AM IST

AJMER: For the students of government primary school in Makhupura, Ajmer, education comes with a cost. They sit in the mud all through the day to learn their lessons as their school building exists only on paper. However, their teachers are better off, as they have a table and a chair, which they keep in the nearby temple after school hours.

Of course, the 'school' has no provision for drinking water or toilet facilities and the students cross the highway to get water from nearby residents. There are nearly 80 students and two teachers in the school.Hardly 10 kilometres from Ajmer city, the school was sanctioned in 2008 after seeing a large number of children in the area.
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The education department is getting crores through Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Vishesh Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan but the school has been running like this for the past four years. "There is no drinking water, no floor mats or toilet. Our teacher tells us to sit quietly when we ask for water," said a student of Class IV.

Residents of the nearby area feel sorry for these children and they provide them with water and some food. "They all come from very poor families just for the sake of education and we feel sorry for them," said Lalita Kumawat, a nearby resident. "During summer, they hold their classes under the shade of bushes when the temperature rises above 45 degrees," said Shanker Singh Rawat, member of Ajmer Municipal Corporation. In rainy days, they declare holiday as classes can't be held.

The education department had appointed two teachers in the school and they have a table and a chair along with attendance register. They also have utensils to cook mid-day meal and they keep everything in the nearby Tejaji temple after the school gets over. "We have no other option," said Vasudev, a teacher. Teachers also complain that they cannot teach students to stay neat and tidy as they sit in mud the whole day.

The department claims that the building will soon be constructed as funds has been allotted by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), "Rupees 10 lakh has already been sanctioned for the school building. The money has been deposited in the account of the school," said assistant engineer of SSA. But the problem is that the school does not own the land officially.

A proposal was sent to the district administration for sanctioning the land in 2011. However, the file has got entangled in some office. "I made several representations to the administration for allotting the land so that we could have a school building but nothing has been done yet," claimed Rawat.

The education department applied for the land in 2009 and the file was sent to sub-divisional officer (SDO) of the district. "The file is pending for verification and allotment," said Janki Devi, head of the school. However, SDO N K Agnihotri is not aware of the matter.

Education not a priority in the Budget 2012-13

Education not a priority in the Budget 2012-13
Last Updated: Friday, March 16, 2012, 22:03
Comments 3
Tags: RTE Act,Right to education,Education in Budget,Union Budget 2012,Budget 2012
Education not a priority in the Budget 2012-13 Pooja Parvati/CBGA

Despite 2012-13 being the first year of the 12th Five Year Plan, there seems to be hardly any focus on prioritising public provisioning for education by the Union Government. There has been an absence of critical scrutiny with regard to the implementation of the RTE Act as is clear from the scant increases made in the programme operationalizing the Act, i.e. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. The budget largely disappoints with its policy prescription.

The present total government spending (Centre and States combined) on education accounts for about 3.7 % of GDP (as of 2009-10), which is way below the benchmark of 6 % of GDP that had been recommended more than 40 years ago. In this regard, the Union Government has not taken adequate measures towards increasing the country’s total budgetary spending on education significantly. For education, the outlays in Union Budget 2012-13 have gone up very marginally from 4.65 % as a proportion of the total Union Budget (in 2011-12 RE) to 4.97 % in 2012-13 BE. As a share of the GDP, the allocations have registered a slight hike from 0.69 % of the total budget (in 2011-12 RE) to 0.73 % in 2012-13 BE.

At the elementary level, it is crucial to ensure that financial provisions for implementing the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009 is adequate. The Union Government outlays for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) for universalising quality elementary education have been insignificant. From Rs 21000 crore in 2011-12 RE, the outlays have been stepped up to Rs 25555 crore in 2012-13 BE.

A worthwhile point relates to the slight decline in the reliance on education cess to finance elementary education sector. From 43 % in 2011-12 RE, the cess share in financing elementary education has gone to 41.6 %.

Other critical sub-sectors, such as secondary education, higher and technical education have not been adequately stepped up in this year’s Budget. For Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), the outlays have gone from Rs 2423 crore in 2011-12 RE to Rs 3124 crore in 2012-13 BE. For University Grants Commission (UGC), the allocations in this year’s budget do not reflect the government’s stated commitments to adequately finance higher education. From Rs 8927 crore in 2011-12 RE, it has gone to Rs 10350 crore in 2012-13 BE.

Evidence from other countries clearly shows that in the interest of strong and vibrant citizens, the financing of education is primarily the government’s responsibility and cannot be left to market forces. In this context, the increasing trend of private sector participation in education sector through different modes, e.g., Public Private Partnership (PPP) and vouchers, needs to be reviewed.

Clearly, education seems to have been put in the back-burner by the Union government although ‘inclusive’ growth sans addressing education deficits might not go a long way.

(The author is Research Coordinator, CBGA)

Education budget rises by 18%

Education budget rises by 18%
HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 16, 2012

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has allocated Rs 61,427 crore for education in his budget — 18% more than last year’s Rs 52,057 crore.
Of this, Rs 45,969 crore has been earmarked for school education and literacy while R15,458 crore has been allocated for higher education. HRD minister

Kapil Sibal told HT: “It is commendable that the finance minister has continued to invest in education in a difficult year like this. This is the surest road to empowerment.”

The allocation to implement the Right To Education (RTE) Act for children between 6 and 14 years was hiked by 21.7%.

“The RTE Act is being implemented with effect from April 1, 2010 through the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and we propose to increase the allocation to R25,555 crore,” Mukherjee told Lok Sabha.

Lauding the role of mid-day meals in enhancing enrolment, retention, attendance and improving the nutrition levels among children, the minister said the budget for the scheme was being hiked from Rs 10,380 crore to Rs 11,937 crore — an increase of 15%.

Underlining the pivotal role played by the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan in improving secondary education, Mukherjee said R3,124 crore had been allocated for it — nearly 29% higher than last year.

Stressing on the need to set up model schools at block levels, he said in the 12th Plan, there was a proposal to build 6,000 such schools. “Of these, 2,500 will be set up under Public Private Partnership,” he said.

To improve the flow of credit to deserving students, a credit guarantee fund would also be set up, he added.

Educationists see nothing much, barring PPP hope for schools

Educationists see nothing much, barring PPP hope for schools

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Express news service : Pune, Sat Mar 17 2012, 03:29 hrs

Educationists say the Union Budget allocation for 2012-13 has little for the sector, but it will be a good move if Pune also gets one of the 2,500 schools to be started under a public-private partnership (PPP) at the block level. Also, the 29 per cent increase in allocation for Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) is a boost for school education.

Anil Kawde, chief education officer, Pune Zilla Parishad, said, “Creating new school buildings and new classrooms has been of high priority for us and in 2011-12, we set up 790 of them. Though we don’t know how much of the Rs 3,124 crore set aside for RMSA will be for the Pune district, hopefully we will be able to increase this number.” On being asked about the PPP model for schools, Kawde said it would be a first for Pune if the district is included in the list.

The Finance Minister has announced that under the 12th Plan, 6,000 schools have been proposed to be set up at block level as model schools to benchmark excellence.

Of these, 2,500 will be set up under the PPP model.

Educationist Ramesh Panse said it is time to bridge the “funds gap” in education through such PPP models. “It will be a big leap for the education sector in Pune if we get schools at the block level that will run on PPP model.”

KG admission: HC issues notices to govt, Ahmedabad schools

KG admission: HC issues notices to govt, Ahmedabad schools
Published: Friday, Mar 16, 2012, 14:23 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA

A bench of acting chief justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and justice JB Pardiwala of Gujarat high court issued notices to the state government and four city schools in connection with a PIL raising an issue of admission of children below 3 years of age in junior KG.

The PIL mentions that admission of children below the age of three years to schools is violative of the state government’s circular issued in 1996 that set the age of not less than 3 years for children’s admission to schools. The bench made four schools -Delhi Public School (DPS), St Kabir, Udgam and Vedanta - as respondents.

The schools were joined as party respondents as the petitioner annexed admission notices issued by these schools in newspapers inviting admission to junior KG and pre-primary sections.

“We have filed the petition as the admission of children below age of 3 years is allowed in schools across the state. We also annexed admission notices of few schools for pre-primary and junior KG sections,” said Bhunesh Rupera, counsel for Kamal Pandya, general secretary of the All India Students’ Organisation.

The petition states that the state’s education department had framed policy for the pre-primary education vide circular of January 30, 1996. It provided guidelines pertaining to admission and other related matters to pre-primary education in the schools and set cut-off age of not less than three years for children’s admission to schools.

The petition further states that one of the schools had given admission notice in the newspapers wherein eligible age for children’s admission was shown only 2 years. The petitioner had made representation to district authorities and few schools about irregularity in the age of admission, but in vain.

Union Budget 2012: Measly spending on major social sectors

Union Budget 2012: Measly spending on major social sectors
Last Updated: Saturday, March 17, 2012, 12:25
Comments 2
Tags: Union Budget 2012,Budget 2012,Social sectors,Centre for Budget Governance and Accountability,CBGA
Union Budget 2012: Measly spending on major social sectors Team CBGA

The policy commitment to lay emphasis on health during the 12th Five Year Plan does not get reflected in the Union Budget, with the government expenditure on this sector slated to increase marginally to 0.34 percent of the GDP during 2012-13 and the Finance Minister announcing a few sops such as the proposal to launch the National Urban Health Mission (NUHM).

The education sector, which was the focus of the previous Plan, has fared no better as the first Budget after the Right to Education Act effectively came into force has forked out a meagre outlay to the RTE vehicle, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).

There is no significant allocation for health sector despite the pledge to double the spending on this sector. As a proportion of the GDP, the Centre’s expenditure on health, which was stagnant over the past few years, has risen marginally from 0.32 percent in 2012-13. Total Health Expenditure from the Centre, as a share of total Union Budget, rose nominally to 2.31 percent for 2012-13 from 2.15 percent in 2011-12.

This Budget has very little to offer to the health sector barring a few sops like tax exemption of up to Rs 5,000 for health insurance for annual preventive health check-ups. The other assurances include upgradation of seven medical colleges across the country to all-India institutes and launching of a Maternal and Child Nutrition Scheme in 200 districts.

The allocation for the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) has been stepped up to Rs 20,822 crore in 2012-13 from Rs 18,115 crore the previous year. Considering the huge infrastructure gap in this flagship social sector intervention of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, this increase is inadequate. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in his Budget speech announced launching of the NUHM. The new scheme has yet to be allocated any funds even though framework for its implementation was drawn up in mid-2010.

The Union government outlays for education have gone up marginally from 4.65 percent as a proportion of the total Union Budget (in 2011-12 RE) to 4.97 percent in 2012-13 (BE). As a share of the GDP, the allocations have registered a slight hike from 0.69 percent of the total Budget (in 2011-12 RE) to 0.73 percent in 2012-13 BE.

At the elementary education level, it was crucial to ensure that financial provisions for implementing the RTE Act, 2009 were stepped up. The Union government outlays for SSA have gone up from Rs 21,000 crore in 2011-12 RE to Rs 25,555 crore in 2012-13 BE, a mere increase of Rs 4,555 crore. Other critical sub-sectors, such as secondary education, higher and technical education, have not been adequately stepped up in this year’s Budget. For Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), the outlays have gone up from Rs 2423 crore in 2011-12 RE to Rs 3124 crore in 2012-13 (BE).

The priority for water supply and sanitation has gone up slightly. The overall allocation for rural water supply and sanitation has shown a substantial increase from Rs 11,005.24 crore in 2011-12 (BE) to Rs 14,005.24 crore (BE) in 2012-13. In rural water supply there has been an increase from Rs 8,500 crore in 2011-12 (RE) to Rs 10,500 crore in 2012-13(BE). In rural sanitation, the jump has been from Rs 1,500 crore in 2011-12 (RE) to Rs 3,500 crore in 2012-13 (BE). However, the allocation for ‘Integrated Low Cost Sanitation Programme’ has been reduced from Rs 55 crore in 2011-12 (RE) to Rs 25 crore in 2012-13 (BE). In this regard, the formation of a separate Ministry for Drinking Water and Sanitation has eventually put into focus a sector which has long been neglected. Nevertheless, one needs to closely look at whether it would be adequate or not.

Centre for Budget Governance and Accountability (CBGA) is a budget think tank.

Economic Survey: Govt's expenditure on education rises to 3.11% in 2011-12

Economic Survey: Govt's expenditure on education rises to 3.11% in 2011-12

Published on Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 13:02 | Source :

Updated at Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 13:13

In the primary education sector, the reforms initiated in 2010-11, continued during the year 2011-12. This is stated in Economic Survey 2011-12, presented by the Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, in the Lok Sabha today. The expenditure on education as a proportion of GDP by General government has increased from 2.72% in 2006-07 to 3.11% in 2011-12 (BE).

As per the Survey, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) norms have been revised to correspond with the provisions of the RTE Act including norms for sanctioning additional teacher posts, classrooms, teaching-learning equipment to enable states to move to an eight-year elementary education cycle, enhancement of academic support for better school supervision, and expansion of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidhyalaya (KGBVs). The National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) has been notified as the academic authority for teacher qualifications. Also, a country wide campaign has been launched for raising public awareness about Right to Education (RTE) and to ensure all schools become RTE compliant. The number of out-of-school children has come down from 134.6 lakh in 2005 to 81.5 lakh in 2009 as per an independent study conducted by the SRI-IMRB.

The Survey states that as part of the National Mission in Education through ICT, content generation and connectivity along with provision for access devices for institutions and learners are the major components of the Mission. A major development during the year has been the launch of Aakash, the low cost access-cum-computing device that was launched on 5 October, 2011. Besides so far nearly 400 universities have been provided 1 Gbps connectivity or have been configured under the scheme and more than 14,000 colleges have also been provided VPN connectivity. Creation of e-content for 996 courses in Phase II in engineering, sciences, technology, humanities, and management has been undertaken by IIT Madras. The Consortium for Educational Communication (CEC) has been tasked with creation of e-content for 87 undergraduate subjects. More than 2000 e-journals and 55,000 e-books from 297 publishers have been made available online under this programme.

The Survey points out some institutions like the IITs have, in order to promote innovation, created technology business incubation facilities in their campuses. These are providing to be focal points amongst students and faculty for working towards taking some of their applied research to the market through the creation of business models for the same. These efforts need to be expanded greatly (a) by scaling up the previously successful centres of such innovations, and (b) by creating many such centres across the higher technical institutions in the country.

'Leaving certificate issued to instill fear in schoolboy'

'Leaving certificate issued to instill fear in schoolboy'
Shreya Bhandary, TNN Mar 16, 2012, 01.04AM IST

MUMBAI: A day after TOI reported about a Class IX student of St Elias High School in Khar slapping his school principal in a fit of rage, school authorities said that the student has been issued a leaving certificate. However, the principal told TOI that this was done just to scare the child and make him realize his mistake and that the school will call him back after he apologises to the principal for his action.

"He demanded for the LC himself and that's why we issued the certificate. The student's parents as well as some relatives have already apologized to me but the student still hasn't. We will call the student and his parents on Friday and after he apologises, we will re-admit him," said the principal. She also added that her eardrums were ruptured after the incident and the management took such a step against the student to ensure that no other student repeats such an action again.
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The student's mother, however, told TOI that the principal had enraged her son by slapping him in front of the entire class. "I agree that what my son did was wrong and he should be punished but why issue a leaving certificate? I met the principal on Wednesday and apologized for my son's actions but she refused to acknowledge our request. I don't know what to do now," said the mother. The student, a resident of Khar, lives with his mother. His father died in 2002.

Meanwhile, educationists and psychiatrists across the city say that there is an increasing incidence of aggressive behaviour by students in schools. While teachers and school managements complain about not being able to deal with unruly kids, psychiatrists point out that teachers need to be trained to identify such behaviour early.

"Increasingly, children are suffering from something called the intermittent explosive disorder in which they don't know how or where to vent out their frustration. They store too many problems in their memory and end up acting out without thinking," said psychologist Seema Hingorrany. She also added it is important for teachers to play the role of a counsellor as well.

The Right to Education Act bans any kind of physical or mental harassment to children, but teachers say that parents and children have become extremely 'sensitive', and even the slightest reprimand gets blown out of proportion. "Some children are so aggressive that I know of many teachers who are scared of their students. They don't even complain against such students as they fear the consequences," said a teacher of a south Mumbai school. Some teachers also added that with very little skills at hand, it becomes difficult to help children with aggressive behaviour. "Some children a very wild and unless we know what is affecting them, we can't help them. Sometime it helps to share a friendly rapport with the student but there's only so much that we can do as teachers," said Swaleha Khan, teacher at St Joseph's High School in Colaba.

Psychiatrists are hoping that more schools will now take counselling seriously and train their teachers to identify and deal with high-risk cases in their classrooms.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Adequate spending essential for health, education sectors

Adequate spending essential for health, education sectors
New Delhi, March 15, 2012 , DHNS

Economic survey: India lags behind China, Sri Lanka

‘Adequate spending’ is essential in the education and health sectors, the annual pre-budget Economic Survey has indicated.

Holding the future: A newspaper employee with copies of the Economic Survey 2011-12, in New Delhi on Thursday. PTIIt pointed out that the country is behind not only China but also behind Sri Lanka in this regard. It showed the need for ‘much’ faster and wider spread of basic health and education in the country.

The report, tabled in Parliament on Thursday, said it was high time to bring in effective measures to improve the efficiency, ‘especially in the delivery mechanism’ of programmes in the two sectors, considering region-specific successes and failures in the past. “While fiscal prudence is important, development policies that aim at bringing the economy back on a higher growth trajectory and at the same time ensuring adequate spending on the social sector especially education, health care, and employment generation are equally important,” it said.

To reap the much-hyped demographic dividend advantage of India, better educated and healthy population ‘is a must.’ This called for more reforms.

There had been an increase in public health investment in the country. The combined revenue and capital expenditure of the Centre and the states on medical and public health, water supply and sanitation, and family welfare had increased from Rs 53,057.80 crore in 2006-7 to Rs 96,672.79 crore in 2010-11.

But the expenditure of the government on public health as a percentage of GDP was low, despite efforts by the government to provide affordable access to the decentralised public health system, the survey noted.

While a long-term vision and plans in mission mode were needed for the ‘timely harvest’ of the demographic dividend, the gap in available resources could be met by a tailor-made PPP mode of funding without diluting the regulatory oversight of the government, it suggested.

The government is about to roll out a mega health scheme focusing on universal health coverage. In the first step, the plan is to provide all essential medicines free in government health care facilities within next two years.

The survey appreciated the government’s National Skill Development Mission, saying it was a step in the right direction. “The RTE Act must face no implementation deficit for it to work towards realising the demographic dividend. Similar reforms are needed in university and higher education and the demand-supply mismatch in the job market needs to be corrected.”

Gujarat amongst educationally backward states: Congress

Gujarat amongst educationally backward states: Congress
PTI | 09:03 PM,Mar 15,2012

Gandhinagar, Mar 15 (PTI) With a meagre budgetary allocation of 13.9 per cent for education, Gujarat ranked amongst the educationally backward states in the country, state Congress president Arjun Modhvadiya today alleged in the Assembly. Gujarat ranked 14th in terms of budget allocation for the education sector, he said, during the discussion on budgetary demands for the education department. "Number of students enrolled in state primary schools has dropped by 21 lakh. In 1999-2000, there were around 81.34 lakh students in primary schools, which got down to 61.32 lakh, a decline of around 21 lakh," Modhvadiya claimed. However, Education Minister Raman Vora refuted the claims, and blamed the Centre. "The Centre has allocated less than 50 per cent of the grants meant for the education sector, because of which the state government is facing hurdles in providing basic physical facilities," Vora claimed. "The number of students enrolled in schools has gone up primarily due to Kanya Kelavani Rath Yatra Shala Pravotsav and Gunostsav schemes, it has reached over 87 lakh," he said. For implementation of Right to Education Act, recruitment of 19,000 teachers was required, but only 15,000-odd could be recruited as Centre denied sanction, the minister alleged. PTI VKB PD KRK

State may miss school toilets deadline, again

State may miss school toilets deadline, again
Rageshri Ganguly, TNN Mar 15, 2012, 04.12PM IST

BHOPAL: Even as a tribal woman in Betul left her marital home within days of her wedding to protest the lack of a toilet and sparking a " Toilet Revolution," the state school education department would be failing to comply with the Supreme Court deadline for separate toilets for boys and girls set for the end of this month.

A study conducted by Madhya Pradesh Lok Sangharsh Sajha Manch (MPLSSM), a network of NGOs, in February shows of 188 primary and middle schools surveyed in 13 districts, separate toilets for boys and girls existed only in 69 of them.

The MPLSSM conducted a study on various aspects of the Right to Education ( RTE) Act in the state in the month of October, November last year, when of the 170 schools inspected in the 13 districts of the state, separate male and female lavatories were found only in 49 of them. The report was then submitted to the state government in the last week of January.

Principal secretary school education Manoj Jhanlani though differed, "The target for toilets has been largely met. Of the 65, 000 odd toilets required, around 57,000 have been constructed last year. The remaining 8,000 toilets would be constructed by June 30."

MPLSSM along with 13 partner organizations conducted a second survey in the month of February where 188 schools were surveyed. Of the schools surveyed, 149 were primary schools while 39 were middle schools. The districts where the survey was carried out were Dhar, Sheopur, Balaghat, Mandla, Dindori, Rewa, Satna, Damoh, Dewas, Alirajpur. Three cities; Bhopal, Indore and Gwalior were also surveyed.

The report was submitted to Manoj Jhalani on February 28 and to the state school education minister Archana Chitnis on March 6.

Javed Anis, secretary MPLSSM talking to TOI said, "There is a greater problem that was highlighted in our survey. Many of these schools do not have a water supply. So even if the toilets are there, they would hardly be of any use in the absence water supply."

Agreed Jhalani who said, "Lack of piped-water and operational resource constraints were major problems. The state which gets sanctions for toilets under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) has also submitted to the Centre for the funds in the contingency and maintenance of the toilets under the XII plan."

The Supreme Court on January 13 had extended its December 31 deadline to March 31 for states and Union Territories to provide for separate permanent toilets for boys and girls in all schools across India and reiterated that it was an essential part of the right to education of children.

A bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Dipak Misra had said empirical studies had shown that parents were reluctant to send their children, especially girls, to school if there was no provision for toilets.

By its October 18, 2011 order, the court had directed states and UTs to provide for at least temporary toilet facilities for boys and girls by November 30 and permanent ones by December 31 which was then extended to March 31.

Notice to St Joseph’s School for violating RTE

Notice to St Joseph’s School for violating RTE
TNN Mar 16, 2012, 01.41AM IST

BHOPAL: A prominent private school in the city was found conducting admission tests of students of class I on Thursday for allegedly violating the Right to Education (RTE) Act. Acting on the orders of the District Education Officer (DEO) and the intervention of the District Project Coordinator (DPC), the written exam was cancelled and a notice was served to the school for the same.

On Thursday, St Joesph's Co-ed School, Kolar branch, was allegedly conducting admission test of students. There were 54 students of class I and 18 students of class VI. When DPC KK Agrawal reached the school and served a notice to the authorities, the exam was called off. Agrawal said, "I reached the school around 11 am. The exams were on. After the notice was served to them, the authorities gave an apology in writing, saying that it was a mistake on their part."

He said, "A letter has been sent to Rajya Shiksha Kendra Commissioner Ashok Barnwal about the incident. He would take a decision on the matter."

DEO CM Upadhyay, who was on an inspection duty of the on-going board exams, had instructed the DPC to intervene after a tip-off. Upadhyay said, "The matter would be probed on Friday. If the school is found guilty, they would be charged under relevant sections of the RTE and penalized according to the same."

School's spokesperson Vasundhara Sharma said, "No formal exam was being conducted. Only eligibility of students was being tested. In fact, only handwriting was being examined."

$500mn WB aid for secondary education project

$500mn WB aid for secondary education project
The World Bank has approved the credit to support India’s Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) programme
Submitted on 03/23/2012 - 11:22:51 AM

Washington: In a bid to make quality education accessible to young people at the secondary level, the World Bank on Friday approved a US$ 500 million credit to support India's secondary education project.

The project will support all activities as envisioned in the US$ 12.9 billion Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) programme, a flagship Government of India programme for gradual universalisation of secondary education.

The Project would be financed by a credit from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank's concessionary lending arm – which provides interest-free loans with 25 years to maturity and a grace period of five years, World Bank said in a statement.

Roberto Zagha, World Bank Country Director for India, said, "RMSA is a young programme which is expected to grow rapidly and hence it is an opportunity for the World Bank to support the Government of India in building effective systems as the Programme expands while improving quality."

Under the RMSA programme, expansion, repair and renovation will take place in some 60,000 existing government secondary schools; some 44,000 upper primary schools will be upgraded to secondary schools; and about 11,000 new secondary and senior secondary schools will come up mainly in underserved areas.

"...the skills and knowledge requirements of the labour force in a globalised economy requires high quality secondary graduates. This necessitates revamping the secondary education system in India," Venu Rajamony, Joint Secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance said.

Net elementary enrollment rate in India stands at 96 percent and girls are almost equally represented in elementary education as boys.

However, attention is needed for secondary education where the gross enrollment rate stands at about 50 per cent and quality of education is very low. Besides, it is also not affordable for poor households, the statement added.

Besides, most of the economic and employment growth in India is taking place in skilled services like information technology, financial services, telecommunications and skill-intensive manufacturing, all of which require, at a minimum, a secondary education degree, it said.

The number of children at international schools reaches 3 million

The number of children at international schools reaches 3 million
Wednesday, March 21, 2012

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New Delhi: The latest figures published by ISC Research show that the number of children attending the world's international schools has passed three million. This is phenomenal growth in just ten years. In 2002 there were one million international school students. It is this increasing demand for places which is driving the rapid expansion of international schools worldwide; a trend that ISC Research predicts will continue for the foreseeable future.

Ten years ago, the typical international school student was from an expatriate family. Today, that student is from a local family. The number of expatriate children attending international schools has not decreased, indeed there are many more . What has changed is the recognition by local families that international schools are a means of advancing to further education at some of the world's best universities. "Parents of the next generation are looking towards international schools to satisfy the need for critical thinking rather than learning by rote," says Clive Pierrepont, Director of Communications at Taaleem which owns and manages 13 schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. "The parents clearly see international schools as a route through for university opportunities." It is this recognition, coupled with increased income, which is making attendance at an international school a real possibility for the wealthier local families. Today 80% of students at international schools are local children.

In a number of cities, this demand from both expat and local families, is outstripping supply. Hong Kong, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha all have significant problems. So much so, that many relocating expats with families are now demanding security of their school places before accepting new placements. In certain locations, it is the availability of good school places that is driving job decisions by expats rather than salaries and destinations. As a result of this demand, a number of countries are actively encouraging the growth of international schools including China, India, Malaysia, Korea, and the UAE.

International schools are typically fee-paying schools that deliver the curriculum wholly or partly in English (outside an English-speaking country). The good quality of learning at international schools is recognised the world over. Many of these schools follow, to a large extent, the English National Curriculum. Others deliver such highly respected international curriculums as the International Baccalaureate and the International Primary Curriculum. Others deliver alternative national curriculums such as American or Dutch. The best international schools have extremely good reputations, are accredited, and are used as models by national schools the world over.
ISC Research, the organisation that researches and analyses data on international schools worldwide predicts that the number of students in international schools will reach six million in another ten years and that the number of international schools will increase from 6,000 today to 10,000.

Managing Director of ISC Research, Nicholas Brummitt, says "The international school market has become big business. There are now a number of highly respected, multinational groups of schools driving growth forward. Examples of these are Taaleem with schools throughout the UAE and partnerships in other Middle East countries, WCL with schools in the US and Qatar, Nord Anglia with schools in China and Europe, Cognita with schools in the UK, Europe and Asia, ESOL with schools in a number of Middle East countries, Yew Chung Education Foundation with schools in Hong Kong, China and the US, and GEMS with schools in many parts of the world. Most of these groups are expanding aggressively, either by buying existing schools, expanding current operations, or building new schools. There are also schools with campuses in several countries. These include a number of UK private schools with international operations such as Harrow (in Beijing, Bangkok with a third school in Hong Kong opening in September this year) and Dulwich which has schools in China and is opening several more in Asia over the next few years."

For more information about the international schools market visit ISC Research is the only organisation that supplies data and market analyses covering all the world's English-medium international schools; data that it has been tracking for over twenty years. The latest market updates plus individual school information, news, statistical overviews, and country reports are all available from ISC Research.

Private schools for the poor

Private schools for the poor
Rich pickings
Bad state education means more fee-paying schools in poor countries

Mar 17th 2012 | MUMBAI | from the print edition

IT IS Republic Day in Mumbai, and an elderly nun addresses 1,000 silent schoolgirls gathered in the playground of Mary Immaculate Girls’ School. If the writers of India’s constitution could see the state of the country today they would weep, she cries, but this school offers hope. Local parents in the tatty surrounding district agree. They will do almost anything to get their children into the oversubscribed school, even though it charges its primary pupils $180 a year when the state school across the road is free. From the Mumbai slums to Nigerian shanty towns and Kenyan mountain villages, tens of millions of poor children are opting out of the state sector, and their number is burgeoning.

Despite a rapid rise in attendance since 2000, 72m school-age children across the world are still not in school, half of them in sub-Saharan Africa and a quarter in South and West Asia. The United Nations reckons it would cost $16 billion a year to get the remaining stragglers into class by 2015—one of its big development goals. Yet a free education is something that many parents will pay to avoid.
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In India, for example, between a quarter and a third of pupils attend private schools, according to the OECD, a Paris-based think-tank (and others have private tutors). In cities the proportion is more like 85%, reckons Geeta Kingdon, who conducts research in Mumbai and elsewhere for the Institute of Education in London.

A government decision in 2007 to make primary schooling compulsory and free boosted private-school numbers. Many parents became disenchanted with state-school teachers who failed to show up or taught badly—by, for example, failing to correct errors. Surveys by Pratham, a Mumbai-based charity, suggest that standards in state schools slipped as the system expanded, whereas in the private sector they have held up.

In China, too, low-fee private schools have emerged, but less because the state schools are bad than because migrants lose the right to a free state education for their offspring. In Beijing alone some 500,000 migrant children cannot get into a state school. Many are taught in unlicensed private schools which, unlike their Indian equivalents, tend to be down-at-heel compared with state provision.

Desk job

In African countries such as Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda teaching is all too often a sinecure, not a vocation. Governments have built many new schools, but cannot dismiss even the worst teachers. Poor instruction by teachers who physically beat their pupils is rife. In private schools the parents are choosy customers. They care more about the quality of instruction than the snazziness of the premises.

James Tooley of the University of Newcastle has pioneered the study of cheap private schools in poor countries. He has also set some up. His research, published in 2009 in a book called “The Beautiful Tree”, often surprised local officials who were unaware such schools existed. Mr Tooley describes classes in the front rooms of people’s houses, often as an extension of basic child care. Most are run for profit—though even these may offer free places for orphans and other needy children.

But the private sector faces problems from bossy bureaucrats, especially in India. It is illegal there to operate a school for profit, so schools that charge fees must act as charities first and businesses second. The Right to Education Act, which came into effect in 2010, compels all independent schools to register with the government on pain of closure (surveys suggest that only about half bother to do so). The same law also compels private schools to take a quarter of their students from poor families. Many have resisted, not least because the subsidies that were supposed to pay for the places have not been forthcoming. Some state courts have ruled that private-school teachers must have the same high pay as state ones, and have mandated budget-busting facilities such as large playgrounds and libraries.

Big aid organisations and charities have long been sceptical of the private schools, arguing that they increase inequality and undermine state provision. Tove Wang of Save the Children, a charity, doubts if private schools, however plentiful, can ever cater for the very poorest. She points to research indicating that poor parents go private only when state schools are dire; if the publicly financed ones improved, she argues, they would be more popular.

But it remains a striking fact that some of the poorest people in the world make big sacrifices to pay for education, and get good value for their money. That is a tribute to diligence and entrepreneurship, just as the failure of the public schools highlights sloth and greed.