Who will educate the schools?

Delhi will find Right to Education a tough Act

jasleen

Jasleen Kaur | February 19, 2010


A government school in the capital
A government school in the capital

Government schools across Delhi are not adequately prepared to implement the Right to Education Act 2009, which is yet to be notified. This is the finding of a committee formed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) to look into the implementation of the Act. The committee, which was set up last December, is due to submit its report to the NCERT by the end of next month.

“Though infrastructure has improved a lot in government schools, maintenance remains a huge challenge. Besides that, these schools still lack quality education,” said Ashok Agarwal, chairman of the committee, “All facilities are irrelevant unless you provide quality education. We are going to demand that all government schools should have a minimum level of the Kendriya Vidyalayas.”

Agarwal, lawyer and activist, heads the 11-member committee which includes schoolteachers and members from non-governmental agencies as well, besides other stakeholders. The committee has been tasked with recommending the policy framework to schools under various government agencies, including Delhi Cantonment Board and Delhi administration, to help them prepare better for implementing the Act.

Within six months of the notification, all state governments will be required to fulfil the mandate of the Act. “In six months, only the appropriate student-teacher ratio can be achieved. This work should have been done a long time back. The problem is not the lack of funds but the willingness of people who are administering these schools,” said Agarwal.

Another member of the committee, Indira Yadav, a retired education director of the municipal corporationsounded more optimistic when she said without elaborating, "If the government is willing to implement this act then it will be achievable."

In Delhi, there are around 1,000 government schools while the municipal corporation runs nearly 1,800 schools and the New Delhi municipal corporation runs 104 schools. Besides that, the Delhi Cantonment Board runs its own schools and there are government-aided schools and Kendriya Vidyalayas as well.

There are 40,000 teachers in government schools for approximately 12 lakh children and 25,000 teachers in MCD schools for approximately 10 lakh children. While there is an average of 1.5 teachers for each classroom, in government schools the ratio is not even one teacher for each classroom.

Experts say the number of teachers needs to be doubled.

Another aspect of the problem is that of the 2 lakh disabled children in the city only 15,000 are studying in schools. For them too, there is a paucity of facilities.

The committee is set to recommend that there should be single agency to run all government schools and that the multiplicity of authority should end.

Agarwal says the report will suggest how best to provide equal opportunity to students, minimise the discrimination among different schools, make teachers accountable and, above all, ensure quality education to each child.

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