Sunday, March 17, 2013

RTE report reveals a bleak picture

RTE report reveals a bleak picture

TNN Apr 9, 2012, 12.51PM IST

Slow implementation of the Right to Education Act raises concern as only a year left to fulfil norms
Unhappy with the slow progress in implementing the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, a memorandum was submitted to the Prime Minister last week by the RTE Forum. The RTE Act, which came into force on April 1, 2009, guarantees the provision of free and compulsory education to children aged six to 14. To fulfil this right, the Act requires all schools to comply with given norms within three years.

Shantha Sinha, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights ( NCPCR) chairperson, emphasises, "The count-down has begun as we are into the third year of the implementation of RTE. We can criticise government for slow implementation but we need to remember this is the only opportunity that we have to give a right to education to our children. Only governments have the might and reach to provide education to the poor and marginalised and those excluded from the mainstream. Concerted efforts are required to utilise this opportunity for our children." A stocktaking meeting was held last week, which revealed a bleak picture. As part of the exercise, a report was released by the RTE Forum, which highlighted that around 95.2% of schools are not compliant with the complete set of RTE infrastructure indicators.
Ambarish Rai, national convener, RTE forum, says, "Current status paints a bleak picture for children as more than 95% schools don't adhere to government norms and we have only one year left to meet the criteria laid 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."
Quality Education
In terms of quality, the report reveals that the school infrastructure does not meet the norms of RTE. Some of the highlights include two out of five schools lack functional toilets; one in 10 schools lack drinking water facilities; 40% schools lack a separate toilet for girls; 60% schools are without electricity; schools without libraries have declined from 37.5% in 2010 to 28.6% in 2011; one in every five schools has a computer; instruction in mother tongue is not available especially in tribal and border districts; 99.68% of students experience punishment of some sort; 6.89 lakh sanctioned teacher posts are vacant and 6.7 lakh teachers are not trained.
Besides, the RTE mandates a 30:1 pupil-teacher ratio, however, ASER 2011 data shows that about 60% of all primary schools in the country have failed to meet this critical criterion.
According to Rampal Singh, president, All India Primary Teachers' Federation (AIPTF), "Parents, whether rich or poor, want quality education; but with just one teacher per 80 students, how is it possible?" He further adds, "Teachers are often asked to participate in non-academic activities such as election duty, etc. In a three-room school building, five classes are held, which is not an ideal learning environment."

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