Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Enrolments Rise with RTE But Quality Takes Dip

Enrolments Rise with RTE But Quality Takes Dip

Published: 31st January 2014 08:30 AM
Last Updated: 31st January 2014 08:30 AM
Though the implementation of the Right To Education Act (RTE) has caused enrolments to go up in schools, it has caused learning to plummet. This was the consensus at a panel discussion titled ‘The National Policy on Education Needs to be Redrawn’, at the ThinkEdu Conclave organised by The New Indian Express here on Thursday.
“Since the RTE Act in 2010, the average number of government schools has increased from 1.18 to 1.66 per village. The share of private schools has gone up from 16 per cent to 24 per cent, and over 96 per cent of all children in the 6 to 14 age group in India are enrolled in schools. The irony is that the learning level of Class V and VIII students has gone down in the last few years,” said Rakesh Mittal, Co-chairman of the Bharti Foundation. He attributed the disparity to the ‘no detention policy’ clause under the RTE Act.
Mittal said, “When you have no exams till Class 8, not only do the students stop taking their studies seriously but also the teachers stop preparing for the classes.”
Panelist R Govinda, Vice-Chancellor of National University of Educational Planning and Administration said, “India spends one of the lowest when it comes to investing in quality teachers,” adding that the teacher is the primary resource when it comes to education, if not the only one.
Echoing a similar sentiment, J S Rajput, former Director of the National Council Of Educational Research And Training (NCERT), said, “If you compare the 1992 policy on education with the 1996 one, not one word has been changed on the section of teachers.”
A new National Policy on Education did not seem foremost on anybody’s mind. Instead, private-public partnership was put forward as the need of the day.
“We need to be the change,” said former IPS officer, Kiran Bedi, who took the audience through slides of a sprawling slum that she had come across as the Police Commissioner in North Delhi. “I think it had as many children as it had flies,” Bedi recalled. “But we brought together the entire community of rich men and women in the area, and started 165 gulley schools!”
Other hurdles on the path of education identified were social discrimination and high dropout rates. Bedi shared with the audience her successful 3 S formula - Siksha, Sanskar and skills- that has been most effective in tackling the problem.

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