States to miss first RTE deadline

However Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat are trying hard towards implementing the RTE Act successfully

jasleen

Jasleen Kaur | January 28, 2013



Even after three years of implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, less than 20 percent schools across the country are RTE compliant. The RTE Act, which was implemented in April 2010, specified a time frame of three years for improving schools' infrastructure and hiring teachers. The deadline expires on March 31, 2013. But more than 80 percent schools still do not have enough classrooms, toilets, access to drinking water, play grounds and teachers.

Appointment of teachers and their placement remains a challenge in many states. There is a shortage of over 7 lakh teachers across the country. Bihar alone has to recruit more than 2 lakh teachers.

In Jharkhand, the situation is alarming as it has not conducted the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) in the last one year. The state has to recruit around 45,000 teachers.

Many states have recruited teachers in the last three years but most of them are not sufficienlty qualified. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have huge backlog of untrained teachers.

The RTE Act has set up norms for teacher-pupil ratio in schools, which have no place for a single-teacher school, irrespective of the number of students in the school. The primary schools must have at least 2 to 3 teachers going by the Act.

But more than 5,000 single-teacher schools are still operating in Orissa. In Assam, where 28,000 teachers have to be recruited, more than 2000 single teacher schools operate. West Bengal has to open more than 4000 upper primary schools.

Surveys by the fact finding teams of the RTE division of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), which is entrusted with the responsibility of monitoring the implementation of the Act, shows major infrastructural gaps in the primary schools across many states. Dhir Jhingran, national coordinator, right to education, NCPCR says the infrastructure would be in place only by the end of March 2014.

TET is an entrance examination for teachers. The purpose of the test, conducted by both central government and state governments, is to achieve right to education goals. But the response to the examination has been poor so far.

In Assam, only 10 percent of candidates who appeared for TET qualified it, while in Delhi only one percent could clear the exam. “In Delhi, those who had B.Ed degree appeared for TET and in Assam, the applicants were yet to take up the B.Ed course. This is the difference in quality of teacher’s education,” says Jhingran.

Apart from this, there is also huge shortage of special teachers for differently-abled children in states like Jharkhand and Orissa. Jharkhand, which has about 250 such teachers, has to appoint 8,600 more. Only Tamil Nadu and Gujarat have appointed special teachers at block level.

“Construction of boundary walls and playgrounds will take time. States got funds under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) but they took a lot of time to spend it,” he adds.

Only Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat are trying hard towards implementing the RTE Act successfully.

There is also gross violation on formation of school management committees (SMC) across states. SMC is the community based organization that has a significant role to play in the local governance and functioning of schools with the participation from parents. It works to form the school development plan.

While Delhi, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are way behind to form SMCs, state governments in Assam, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have trained school authorities to form effective SMCs.

The national capital also has to deal with issues regarding teacher’s recruitment, infrastructure and land availability.

“In the RTE Act, there is also accountability of the community. One cannot put everything to the law. But here even the law is not taken seriously,” says Jhingran.

On reserving 25 percent seats for children from economically weaker section (EWS), many states like Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal and Assam are yet to issue complete guidelines. Large numbers of elite schools in NCR are not reserving seats for EWS children. NCPCR is conducting investigation against 60 such schools.

Also, except Tamil Nadu, none of the state has worked to develop bridge courses for out-of-school children for admission in age appropriate classrooms in schools. Tamil Nadu is also the only state which took the task to recognize huge number of unrecognise private schools.

While inadequacy of funds with the state governments is a prime concern, Jhingran says monitoring system for schools is also required. “One should not expect the ministry of HRD and the NCPCR to examine everything at the district level. There should be local bodies responsible for it.”

The NCPCR, Jhingran says, is focusing more on states like Jharkhand, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Orissa and Rajasthan.

The commission has also written to the MHRD and has requested to identify the strategy/action to be taken by the state government on the identified issues and the timeline for initiating and completing the action.

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