Sunday, March 17, 2013

Lack of school infrastructure makes a mockery of RTE

Lack of school infrastructure makes a mockery of RTE

Aarti Dhar

1 in 10 schools lacks drinking water supply; 40% are without functional common toilets
Two years after the ambitious Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 came into being, 95.2 per cent of schools are not yet compliant with the complete set of RTE infrastructure indicators, a civil society survey nationwide shows.
And a shockingly high percentage, 93, of teacher candidates failed in the National Teacher Eligibility Test conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education in 2010-11. In 2009-10, the failure was 91 per cent in the national examination, meant to test the candidates' teaching aptitude and a prerequisite for appointment.
Only 4.8 per cent of government schools have all nine facilities stipulated under the Act; eight of the nine facilities are present in 11.41 per cent schools; approximately one-third of the schools have up to seven facilities and about 30 per cent schools do not have even five facilities.
A Stocktaking of the First Year of the Implementation of the Right to Education Act, conducted by the civil society organisations under the banner of the ‘RTE Forum', shows that one in 10 schools lacks drinking water facilities, 40 per cent schools lack a functional common toilet, and an equal number do not have separate toilets for girls.
As high as 60 per cent of the schools are not electrified and 50 per cent lack even a ramp for differently-abled children. Only one in every five schools has a computer.
Thirty-six per cent of all sanctioned teaching posts are vacant, while 6.7 lakh teachers are professionally unqualified and untrained.
The report also cites DISE (District Information System for Education) data, which suggests that 21 per cent of teachers in schools were not professionally trained. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Orissa have especially large pools of unqualified teachers, directly impacting the quality of education.
“This reflects the quality of instruction in teacher training institutes,” said Ambarish Rai, national convener of the ‘RTE Forum'. Infrastructure remains an issue to be dealt with. The pace at which it is being added is slow, says the report.
“There is, consequently, a huge infrastructural backlog that requires to be cleared, which makes the slow pace doubly unfortunate. Around 4 per cent of habitations lack a primary school within walking distance. Still we have 16 million children out of school” said Mr. Rai.
The outcome is based on an analysis of figures provided by official documents and studies done by non-governmental groups.
The report also suggests that almost 99.68 per cent of the children reported one or more types of punishment. A study released by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights during 2012, based on evidence collected in 2009-10, found that only nine out of 6,632 students in seven States who were surveyed denied that they received any kind of punishment in schools. As many as 81.2 per cent children were subject to outward rejection by being told that they were not capable of learning. Out of the total, 75 per cent reported that they had been hit with a cane and 69 per cent had been slapped in the cheek.
Further, the report says, 40 per cent of primary schools have a classroom-student ratio higher than 1:30.
The government failed to spend 30 per cent of the funds allocated for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)/RTE in 2010-11 compared to 78 per cent the earlier year.

“Bleak picture”

Says Mr. Rai: “The current status paints a bleak picture for children as more than 95 per cent schools do not adhere to government norms and we have only one year left to meet the criteria laid down in the RTE Act. After more than 100 years of struggle, now that we have the RTE Act in place, it is sad to see the lackadaisical attitude of State governments in implementing the Right to Education as a fundamental right in the true sense.”
At the same time, the National and State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) have been tasked with taking up the mammoth role of monitoring adherence to the RTE. However, these state structures (SCPCR or the Right to Education Protection Authority) are not in place in a majority of the States. Only 21 States have constituted either an SCPCR or REPA. “These bodies are critical to protecting the larger interest of children including education,” said Shireen Vakil Miller, director of Policy and Advocacy, Save the Children.

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