Sunday, March 17, 2013

‘2 years on, only 5% schools follow RTE guidelines’

‘2 years on, only 5% schools follow RTE guidelines’

TNN Jun 30, 2012, 01.50AM IST

NEW DELHI: There's less than a year to go and a lot of ground to cover. To take stock of the progress made in implementation of RTE and to plan the way ahead, an alliance of over 10,000 grass-roots organizations working across the country, the RTE Forum, held a national meeting of "people's organizations". Apart from the 200 representatives working on RTE implementation in 20 states, members of the RTE National Advisory Council (NAC) and National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) were present.
"In 2013, we would have completed three years of RTE. The national commission is interested in collection of data and information on compliance of RTE," said Shantha Sinha, chairperson, NCPCR. "We asked if the forum could include that in their projects." A major part of RTE forum's functions will be to bring "ground realities" to the fore. They intend to standardize the format for this study on implementation over the next month and gather information—qualitative and quantitative—that can be used both at the state and national level for advocacy. The forum will take into account the issues of specific states—the naxal problems, the anti-dam movement—and work with other youth, women, dalit and tribal rights' organizations. With the deadline looming, the RTE Forum feels it also needs to get its own ranks in order. Forum members formulated a structure for their own organization, proposing to set up an advisory body, a national council and state-level forums, and also define their own role and responsibilities in the process.

This gathering of forces is to "put pressure on the government such that changes are made before the general elections in 2014," said RTE Forum national convernor, Ambarish Rai. "Even with only nine months to go," he continued, "about 95% of the schools don't comply with the act. For instance, there aren't enough teachers. But the purpose is also to address the limitations of this act. The provisions for grievance redressal, for instance, are very poor." Mass mobilization is also "the responsibility for quality, for attendance, for everything, but there's a shortage of about 10 lakh primary school teachers. The teacher-student ratio as per the act should be one for every 30 students. In some states, the ratio is one for every 60," said Ram Pal Singh, president, All India Primary Teachers' Federation. Mukut Sharma from Assam Child Rights Forum threw light on the plight of teachers in single-teacher schools in his state. Singh also pointed out there are seven lakh "para-teachers"—untrained teachers—currently working in schools and no proper plan in place to train them. "There are two sets of teachers belonging to two pay grades teaching in the same school. I don't see how they can be trained by 2015."

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