Friday, May 17, 2013

Are Guj schools faring better in complying with RTE?

Are Guj schools faring better in complying with RTE?

Friday, Apr 5, 2013, 10:43 IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA
March 31 marked end of the three-year period for schools in India to enforce and meet criteria of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act. Reports have surfaced that about 90% of schools in India are yet to comply with RTE but implementation of the model in Gujarat has won accolades from experts in the field.
Recently, Gujarat was a point of discussion at a conference in New Delhi to mark three years of RTE Act. Founder of Central Square Education, Ashish Dhawan, cited Gujarat as an example when speaking about ‘RTE – Challenges and Solutions’.
Experts might have praised Gujarat but Annual Status of Education Report-2012 says that it’s a mixed bag. ASER surveyed 692 schools in Gujarat to check their compliance with RTE, which showed that the state lagged in several parameters including usability of girls’ toilets, availability of playgrounds and drinking water.
About 17.4% of girls’ toilets were unusable, while a further 11.3% of them were found locked. Only 79.7% of schools surveyed had playgrounds, down from 83.4% of schools in 2011. Drinking water, too, has become scarce. In 2012, 11.1% of surveyed schools didn’t have drinking-water facility, up from 10.3% in 2011. Gujarat, however, has performed better in pupil-teacher ratio, overall usability of toilets, mid-day meals, and kitchen sheds in schools.
Now, is Gujarat faring better in complying with RTE norms? MD of Educational Initiatives, Sridhar Rajagopalan, who was one of the speakers at an education seminar on Thursday, said that Gujarat’s learning outcome is better than of other states. He didn’t have data to support the claim, but said that Gujarat’s model for implementation of RTE can be adopted by other states.
But activists do not seem to agree with praises showered on Gujarat’s model of implementation.
“Many schools in Gujarat do not seem to have basic amenities like classrooms, teachers to mention a few,” said Sukhdev Patel, an activist in field of education.
“Such praises seem (CM) Narendra Modi-sponsored statements, as many consultants have sprouted to term Gujarat as one of the best. If they really mean what they say, then claims should be supported by facts and data. If they do not share details, all claims are eyewash,” he added.

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