Monday, May 6, 2013

Three years on, Maha schools flunk education act test

Three years on, Maha schools flunk education act test

Sandeep Ashar & Shreya Bhandary, TNN Apr 12, 2013, 05.21AM IST

MUMBAI: Three years after the implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, the status of schools across Maharashtra shows the sorry state of the path-breaking legislation.
Of the 1.84 lakh schools in the state, 5,643 schools don't have drinking water facilities. Almost one in every four schools doesn't have a principal while 1,680 schools have exactly one teacher running the show.

At the time of its introduction, the RTE Act had set guidelines for all schools and state governments to ensure infrastructural changes within three years of its implementation. However, a recent survey conducted by Samarthan, an NGO, highlights gaping holes in the actual implementation of various clauses as prescribed by the legislation. "The government seems to be pumping crores of money
into the school education sector but there seems to be no output. The aim behind the landmark Act was to ensure that no child grows up without a proper chance at educating himself but the state government seems to be lagging in this," said Roopesh Keer, an analyst with Samarthan. The report also highlights the plight of students where 23,994 schools have no separate toilets for girls.
The NGO has used data complied by the District information System for Education (DISE).
The NGO survey also highlights how schools in India's commercial capital are facing problems. The NGO survey shows how even in a city like Mumbai, where facilitating schools should not pose as a problem, the report shows shocking problems.
Mumbai has the most number of schools not equipped with proper facilities for physically challenged students.
Close to 73% schools in Mumbai still don't have ramps inside their premises to facilitate easy commute
for the physically handicapped. "Even in a city like Mumbai, over 100 schools still don't have separate toilets for boys and girls. The number of schools with just one teacher for the entire primary section has increased to 17 schools this year," added Keer.
The legislation also made it clear that along with studies, children should have ample space within school premises to accommodate a playground. Space constraints also led many schools to hire grounds outside their premises but till date, nearly 36,652 schools don't have a playground for children. "Even in schools where teachers are available, there is no guarantee that they are qualified for the job. There is no method to keep tabs on the qualification of teachers. Schools have been conveniently admitting more and more students but the facilities still remain the same," said Jayant Jain, president of Forum for Fairness in Education (FFE). In the study done by Samarthan, the group has also highlighted the lack of coordination between the education department and SarvaShikshaAbhiyaan, which looks after the implementation of the RTE Act . "Both the departments were clueless about certain developments and conveniently pushed the responsibility to the other department," added Keer.
The additional chief secretary of school education, J S Saharia, said the education department will take schools to task for flouting the RTE guidelines. "While the government is only facilitating schools in monetary terms, the initiative of enhancing the infrastructure has to come from the schools. We will start sending notices to all schools that are not adhering to RTE guidelines," he said.

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