Saturday, February 8, 2014

Education missing from party agendas: Activists

Education missing from party agendas: Activists

Business Times Bureau | Dec 4, 2013, 05.31 AM IST
NEW DELHI: Members of Delhi RTE Forum wish political parties contesting the coming assembly election had gone beyond "sadak-bijli-paani (road-power-water)" in their campaigns. Civil society organizations, parents and children who form the forum have found that, while their manifestos promise still more "populist schemes", they lack a roadmap for implementation of the Right to Education Act.

The forum had launched the 15-day 'vote for education' campaign starting November 11 and collected one lakh token votes from the public. The group also met party members and noted their "lack of seriousness." "All of them said 'ho jayega' or 'kar denge'," says Bharat Singh of Bal Vikas Dhara, an RTE forum convenor. "They are clearly not thinking about this as seriously as we are."

The activists would argue there is enough reason to be worried. As Singh points out, there are over two lakh kids still out of school. "The issues we had three years ago still continue," says Rajeev Kumar of NGO Pardarshita and another forum convenor. He adds that School Management Committees-put together in a rush this year as the RTE Act implementation deadline was approaching-don't function the way the act envisioned. "Neither principals, nor community members, nor teachers know what exactly the functions of SMCs are," says Kumar. And, as the forum's national convenor, Ambarish Rai points out, after the deadline for RTE implementation was up, no new "roadmap" was drawn.

Decisions taken by the authorities currently in charge do not bode well. One move that'll be most strenuously resisted by this group at least will be any attempt to "privatize" government schools through public-private-partnership projects as the South Delhi Municipal Corporation proposes to do. "The poor can be educated only through a public system," observes Rai

. There's a shortage of 20,000 teachers, most of the training for teachers is in the private sector and should be closely monitored and they should increase the budget for education." The other matter for concern is the go-ahead given to private schools to start second shift. "Why should there be a second shift in private schools?" asks Annie Namala, another convenor.

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