Let’s go to school

And find out the hurdles – from infrastructure to bureaucratic mindset – in the road to universalisation of education

jasleen

Jasleen Kaur | May 10, 2011



Pinki, a young girl studying in a government school in Uttarakhand, came to Delhi to speak to the media about the condition of schools in her village. This class ninth student in a press conference organised by World Vision India said, “I feel sorry to see the state of education there."

At the press meet, there were many other schoolchildren from different parts of the country. They surveyed schools in their villages to see if various facilities were available and came out with a report. While interacting with the media, they talked about the lack of drinking water, toilets and sometimes classrooms in their schools. They also said teachers often do not come to school, resulting in high dropouts.

Then they compared the situation with the schools in the national capital. They said children here were lucky. They were wrong. They had no idea that the situation was no better in Delhi. They did not know that most children studying in government schools here face the same situation.
It’s been a year since the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) has been implemented. And HRD minister Kapil Sibal has set 2015 as target to achieve universalisation of education.

In the next four years, the central government with the help of the state governments has to ensure that each and every child of this country is in school. But this is certainly not an easy task.
In Delhi alone, there is a shortage of teachers and training schools. The state also has to plan for street children and migrant workers. But it is still not ready with the rules and it does not even have an action plan.

There is no doubt that government schools across the country need better infrastructure. But the problem is not just of funds. Even if the government builds more and more schools with all the facilities in the next four years, it won’t make much difference. The government also has to deal with the mindset of the administration.

In a public hearing organised by a local NGO in east Delhi’s Trilokpuri on April 20, the education officers were invited to hear the problems faced by schoolchildren and their parents. First of all, the officers did not know much about the new law. Moreover, they were insensitive to the issue.

This ambitious act requires complete overhaul of the system and mindset which cannot be done overnight. The National Commission for Protection of Child Right (NCPCR), the government body monitoring the implementation of the act, says changes are happening at the policy level in some states. But at the ground level there is no change. So far, only 13 states have notified rules. But many states like Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are yet to start the work in this regard.

The government also has to deal with the cases related to wilful negligence, inefficiency and callousness of teachers and officials. And at rural level, they have to deal with cases related to caste and class based differences children face in schools.

Certainly, the task is huge and difficult. In next four years, to ensure that each and every child is in school and is getting the quality education, the government will have to work hard to create an environment for the same.
 

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