Thursday, January 23, 2014

The left out in right to education

The left out in right to education

TNN Jan 21, 2014, 01.30AM IST
LUCKNOW: Not a single child belonging to weaker or disadvantaged groups is enrolled in class I in unaided primary schools in 46 districts of Uttar Pradesh. Another 26 districts do not have concrete information on the number of such children enrolled. Only three, out of 75 districts- Firozabad, Pilibhit and Badaun- have 26, five and 19 children studying in class I in private unaided schools respectively.
The above government figures for the academic session 2013-14 shows the sorry state of affairs when it comes to basic education in the state. Despite the Right to Education (RTE) Act stipulating 25% free seats in class I (pre-primary) for children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups in all private unaided schools, UP has turned out to be a laggard.
When asked, basic education director Basudev Yadav said, "I have no idea of this. State project director, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is supposed to answer this. Perhaps parents and children are not aware of this provision."
The poor performance, said education officials, is due to the autocratic behaviour of private schools across the state. "Private schools work on their whims and fancies. At the time of admissions, it is reported, school principals of so-called elite schools avoid admitting a student who is either economically weak or belongs to the disadvantaged group,'' said a basic education official, unwilling to be named. However, regulation of private unaided schools is out of bounds for the state government, the official added.
Though the UP RTE rules say that no such children will be segregated from others in the classrooms, the reality is far from this. "Discrimination comes only after the child is admitted. No private unaided school in Lucknow allows admission to economically or socially weak students,'' said the official. Most of the time, school principals shun these children, saying them to seek admission in a nearby government or government-aided school.
State government order dated June 20 states that it is mandatory for all private unaided schools to reserve 25% free seats for children belonging to weaker and disadvantaged sections. In case of non-compliance, basic education officers (BEOs) are to be held responsible. It also says that once admitted, these children will complete their elementary education (class VIII). The order also says that the state government will reimburse the fees of such students to the cost of Rs 450 or the school's actual fee (per month), whichever is less.
But for UP, said an official associated with RTE, the rules say that children economically or socially backward will be given admission to a private unaided school only after they fail to secure a seat in the government or government-aided school in their neighbourhood.
RTE is anchored in the belief that availability of equal educational opportunities to children belonging to different social and economic background will reinforce the idea of equality. It would also ensure that children are not discriminated on the basis of social and economic background or any such criteria. Clearly, UP still has a long way to go.
DISMAL SCENARIO
* RTE Act says every child should be given free and compulsory education from class I-VIII.
* The Act stipulates 25% free seats in class I (pre-primary) for children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups in all private unaided schools.
No children belonging to weaker section or disadvantaged group enrolled in private schools in 46 districts of UP.
* 26 districts have no information on the number of such children studying.
* Only three districts - Firozabad, Pilibhit and Badaun -- have 26, 5 and 19 children respectively studying in private schools.

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