Right To Education
Posted by Agnivo Niyogi
Last night I was listening to an enlightening discussion on Right to education on NDTV. Barkha Dutt was interviewing Minister of Human Resources Development,Kapil Sibal. The audience comprised of students and teachers from various fields. I must confess here that I find our HRD minister very efficient. He is a man of action. A great visionary. Instead f short term goals he has an eye on the future.
Like I said in one previous post, our education system needs a massive overhaul. Starting from the basic primary education to the highest degrees, our system is grossly inefficient and archaic. This man with his ideas is trying to bring India’s education at par with international standards.
We can discuss on the nitty-gritty’s of education system in some future post. Right now we can focus on the RTE.
SO what is RTE?
In a nutshell, Right to education guarantees children aged between 6 to 14 years the right to study in government schools for free, irrespective of their social and economic backgrounds. The private institutions will have to reserve 25% seats for economically disabled students and have to provide them with financial aid for pursuing their studies. The government also proposes to bring school to everyone’s doorstep and plans to build one school in every 1Km of targeted areas.
In India, 220 million children go to school. But with advancing classes the number of dropouts surges! Only 18 million in India are lucky enough to avail college education. So the rest 202 million children are deprived of education. Sociologists working at grassroots will be able to guess the reason for such high rate of dropouts. In a family where eating two square meals in a day is a luxury, schooling is but elitism. Many students from not so “well-to-do” families face scorn and bullying at school from so called “elites”. This makes them school-phobic. Mostly girls are taken off schools after they reach puberty, to make them learn household chores – something that they would require in future married life rather than the puzzles of the human body or the universe. In many cases the medium of instruction becomes a great divide. The “English medium educated” students look down upon students from vernacular schools. The race for getting admitted to a Private English medium school has given rise to mushrooming of such schools where “education” is missing. Moreover the quality of education imparted at government institutions is also a big hitch. Teachers in many places just make an appearance in class but do not bother to teach. Lack of accountability makes them arrogant. The government is short of 5 lakh teachers. In many parts of the country the one single teacher has to teach many classes together due to shortage of teaching capacity. This definitely qualifies as a herculean task for the government.
Kapil Sibal sounded very optimistic. He stressed on hope for every problem facing this act. Increased co-operation from the civil society would go a long way to make this act a success. He asked each one of us – the “educated” elites – to spread the message. Recruitment of teachers would continue and he set a target of 5 years by which this law would be fully active and generate results.
But the problem of implementation remains. Time Of India showed the way with Teach India campaign. The government can re introduce that to recruit teachers. But what about the monitoring of quality? Who will see whether the money sanctioned for the education of the downtrodden is actually spent for them? Moreover where will such a huge amount of funding come from?
Already politics has started over this act. The chief minister who can spend crores for statues and garlands does not have money in the coffers for education of the dalits!!! And I fear the same will happen in many other states where the Ruling UPA is not in power!
Come what may this law should be enacted in letter and spirit. It looks good on paper and imagine what a great country our nation would be if we could actually guarantee that the nation’s future goes to school and not t work in a tea stall. The onus lies with us as much as it lies with the government.