Two years of RTE, implementation still slow

States have taken up teachers' training programmes but the inspirational aspect of teaching is missing, says NCPCR

jasleen

Jasleen Kaur | April 1, 2012



Two years since the Right to Education Act has been implemented, the annual average dropout rate at the primary level has dropped from 9.1 in 2009-10 to 6.9 in 2010-11.

Also, more than 4.96 lakh classrooms and 6 lakh teachers posts have been added and the Centre’s outlay for the RTE-Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has risen from Rs 13,100 crore to Rs 25,555 crore. HRD minister Kapil Sibal said this on Saturday while releasing a review of the act, which promises free and compulsory education to all between the age of six and 14 years.

But all these numbers do not reflect the quality of education that is imparted to children.

Shantha Sinha, chairperson of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), which is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the act, says the trend is towards improving access to education but the process is slow. She adds that the act has not been rolled out to its fullest potential. “There is lack of infrastructure and there are still problems like corporal punishment and bad quality of midday meal.  In public hearings we have seen cases where children have to walk long distances for attending schools, so there is still no access.”

The commission has conducted the social audit on the implementation of the act in 10 states and will soon bring submit its report to the government.

“We cannot say about the implementation of the act in general but within the states there is unevenness and almost all the states are at the same level. Implementation in a district depends a lot on the collector,” she added.

Prof R Govinda, vice-chancellor of NUEPA who also played an important role in drafting the act believes that central and state governments have to play an active role. He says, “Institutions have to get transformed. Schools are not working properly, children are not learning what they are supposed to but there is no one to point fingers at them.” He adds, “We have invested money but there has been under utilization of funds.”

The most important factor for the success of the act is the quality of teaching. Firstly, there is huge shortage of teachers and those who are teaching are not qualified enough.

The HRD ministry has added more posts of teachers and some teacher training programmes have been started but it is not meeting the required qualities.

Shantha Sinha says although most states have taken up the teachers' training programmes, the inspirational aspect of teaching is missing. “The training of teachers has been very mechanical. Issues like handling children in the classroom are not addressed in the programmes,” she said.

Through public hearings organised by the commission during the social audit, it was also found that most teachers were not fully aware of the act.

Also, another important element is formation of School Management Committee (SMC), which asks for the participation of the community for monitoring schools. It was found that in some states Sarpanchs are heading it and there is no involvement of the community.

The ministry, however, has devised a 10-point agenda which includes states mapping neighbourhood schools to enable access to education to all children, prohibition of corporal punishment and ensuring admission to children from disadvantaged sections. Also, states have to ensure an optimum pupil-teacher ratio and recruitment of teachers based on their performance in the Teachers’ Eligibility Test. It also stresses on a grievance-redressal mechanism.

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