RTE audit exposes poor state of education sector

Social audit in nine states reveal infrastructural ans attitudinal problems

jasleen

Jasleen Kaur | June 29, 2011



Poor infrastructure, dangerously dilapidated school buildings, lack of teachers and quality education, and dirty, non-functional toilets - these are some of the factors crippling the education sector.

A post-facto social audit of the implementation of the right to education (RTE) Act being conducted by the national commission for protection of child rights (NCPCR) found acute deficiencies in most schools which could undermine the legislation intended to universalise education.

The social audit, a pilot project, is being conducted in five blocks of one district each in nine states - Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Bihar, Haryana, Maharashtra, Rajasthan an Uttar Pradesh.

Some of the key problems that emerged from the pilot study were low teacher-student ratio and poor infrastructure. Most schools in all nine states lacked access to drinking water. The quality of education was also disappointingly low in all nine states with most sixth and seventh graders unable to read their textbooks.

Cases of collection of money from students under the pretext of celebration of festivals were reported in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. This is in clear violation of RTE provisions. However, teachers in Bihar protested saying that the state government was yet to issue orders on the implementation of the Act. Madhya Padesh schools mostly complained of not receiving textbooks on time. Students get the books only when almost half the session is over. Besides, the payment of scholarships to students has also been irregular as there is no clarity among officials regarding the stipulations for awarding scholarships.

Low student enrollment was reported in Haryana schools with almost 3,000 out-of-school students in the five blocks. While Andhra Pradesh scored high on enrollment with the least number out-of-school students, but most of theschool buildings were dilapidated and unsafe.

While the response to the audit has been good in Harayana and Andhra Pradesh, state authorities in Delhi and Tamil Nadu refused to share details.

In the national capital, only the municipal corporation of Delhi (MCD) responded to a questionnaire sent by Josh, a NGO working with NCPCR. The audit was to be conducted in 40 schools in Kalyanpuri and Trilokpuri areas. Thirty two of these are run by the MCD and eight by state government.

Saurabh Sharma from Josh says, “The condition in MCD schools has improved a lot recently. The education department has also come out with various orders to monitor the situation.”

A recent order from the department at the corporation said it is the responsibility of the principals to see whether the toilets are clean or not. Saurabh adds that the government of Delhi, on the other hand, has been very insensitive to the issue and nobody in the department wants to listen to the complaints.

In Madhya Pradesh, a district project coordinator of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan was suspended after the findings were presented to the state authorities during a block meeting.

In Andhra Pradesh, state rules violating the RTE act were modified.

The findings of the audit were presented to the state authorities in the presence of principals.

Meanwhile, NCPCR is also developing a method of daily monitoring of schools.

It had sent the proposal of wall writing, talking about entitlements of the act, to be displayed outside government schools. The ministry of human resource development has accepted it and it will soon be send to the state governments.

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