High enrolment, budget cuts and low quality education are main points of status report on the implementation of the legislation
Jasleen Kaur | March 25, 2015
Five years of right to education act and nothing seems have changed. Education still remains a distant dream for children across the country while high drop-outs and low quality of education are major concern of the policy makers. Only positive change that seems apparent is increase in enrolment.
This was highlighted in the report on status of implementation of the right of children to free and compulsory education Act, 2009, released in Delhi at the 5th national stock taking convention organised by the national RTE forum, a collective of education networks and civil society organisations.
The report said the RTE Act seems to have delivered more as a right to schooling than education.
Ambarish Rai, national convenor of RTE forum said that while there have been achievements in implementing some of the provisions of the RTE, the country is still far from meeting its legal responsibility of implementing the right to education for all.
Most of the provisions of the law, including infrastructure, were to be implemented by March 2013 and those related to teacher regularisation and training were to be met by March 31, 2015.
“Over one lakh [government] schools have been closed in the last few years. This is because parents are sending their children to low cost unrecognised private schools. But the government is not focusing on that at all,” he said.
While the government is increasing budget allocation for higher education, it is not paying much attention to the elementary education.
Citing the ASER study, the report, which covered 2,200 schools in 17 states, said the learning outcome for the basic language and mathematics has declined over the years. The number of children who cannot recognise numbers till 9 from class II has increased from 11.3 percent in 2009 to 19.5 percent in 2014.
Krishna Kumar, and educationist and a former director of NCERT said that five years is a small time to evaluate the progress of a law. He said the law was supposed to kill the fear of failure among children but today people are talking to bringing examination back into the education system.
“Education is a slow work. We should be clear with our direction. But it will take a lot of time to achieve the objectives [that are mention under the act]. It is necessary to save RTE and not bring any change in the law at least for next 15-20 years,” he said.
Heavy budget cuts
Under this Act, both central and state governments have to share the financial responsibility and the funds are processed through Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). Since 2013-14 there has been a continuous and heavy cut in budgetary allocation in SSA. From Rs 26,608.01 crore allocate in 2013-14, this year it has been reduced to Rs 22,000 crore.
On funds it says that despite enough resources for the SSA expenditure has not been proper as except for 2010-11, the budget for other years could not be fully utilised.
The report also said that while most of the budgetary allocation goes to teacher’s salaries and infrastructure, teacher development and ensuring quality education in classrooms are not adequately budgeted for.
Teachers and RTE
The report highlighted that the issue of number of vacant posts has only minimally decreased. While many states have filled the gap of vacant posts by hiring para-teachers (contract teachers), over 5.6 lakh teacher positions are still lying vacant.
The government has made many provisions for ensuring that all teachers receive in-service training to update their skills, the data shows that 80 percent of teachers have been professionally trained and just 22 percent teachers got in-service training.
Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE)
The Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) process under RTE was to ensure quality education by regular evaluation of children’s progress and learning. However, adequate attention has not been paid and in 2014, 26 states/UTs had developed their own module for implementing CCE; 5 states/UTs were planning on piloting and upscaling and no initiative has been reported in 6 states/UTs.
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