A new website that will keep track of how far the RTE Act is being implemented
RTE Forum, the 10,000 strong NGO and civil society platform working for the implementation of the RTE Act, has finally launched its website. As part of the RTE Forum’s agenda of formalising its structure, the website aims at strengthening the forum's existing state chapters and forming new ones. Mr. Ambarish Rai, RTE Forum National Convener, spoke to The Hindu and said that the website would highlight the ground reality of the implementation of the RTE Act and work towards improving enrolment and attendance in schools. “Government data say there has been 98 per cent enrolment, but millions of children are still affected by child labour, trafficking, conflict areas, migration, killer diseases like AIDS and disability,” he said. Citing that around 40 per cent of children dropped out after the primary level, Mr. Rai said primary education was bearing the burden of neglect. He added that the website would compile more data regarding laws and implementation status of the Act at the grassroots level for public awareness. While the website provides state-wise legislations of RTE, much of it including research, stocktaking of RTE Act and other archives are yet to be uploaded. With less than a year for the nationwide implementation of the RTE Act (excluding teacher training which has an extended timeline till 2015), the RTE Forum feels that although there have been improvements, infrastructure hurdles have led to great inconsistencies. A study, which came to light at the RTE Stocktaking Convention earlier this year, suggests that more than 95 per cent of schools across India still don't comply with RTE standards for infrastructure. The dismal teacher-pupil ratio in schools across the country is also a matter of concern, Mr. Rai said. The consultation also saw discussions on state level experiences and actions, community participation on RTE (especially the Shiksha Ka Haq Abhiyan), and strategies for building a mechanism to bring facts and figures from grassroots on RTE implementation.
To make the RTE movement broader and more effective, RTE Forum state chapters have been formalized or are underway in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Andhra Pradesh, according to the website. Many of these have also held their state level stocktaking conventions and prepared their status reports. These will be uploaded. The blog, discussion forum and the Forum's latest publications on the status reports will also be uploaded soon. Mr Rai said that the website was not like a government website, but a response from the civil society to spread awareness on RTE implementation, especially since the 2013 report card is close.