2011. One year since RTE was notified and 100 years since Gokhale’s Elementary Education Bill demanding education be made a right (1911- it was defeated).
RTE is not a perfect legislation that would address all the ills in the education system, but is a progressive improvement over the existing reality and also lays down a time bound agenda to address some of the long pending gaps in the educational system.
Some of these deadlines fell within the first year and a third of the time for attaining the minimum standards in the schools has also elapsed. A Fifth of the time for ensuring all teachers are trained.
The deadlines that elapse during the year and their status is as follows:
• Notification of State Rules- Was to happen in ALL states- AP, Arunachal Pradesh, Orissa, Sikkim, and Manipur. Also MP: approved by cabinet.
• Re-recognition of all private schools- process was to start in 3 months of notification. Process is not really complete anywhere.
• Redeployment of teachers: 6 months. Has not been done except for a few instances.
• School Management Committees in ALL schools- only 1-2 states notified them. These groups with a heavy representation of parents were to oversee the functioning of their schools and exercise financial oversight as well.
• School Development Plans- 9 months. These plans to be prepared were to determine the planning for the money to come to schools. SSA plans for RTE going on without them.
• A third of the time to ensure compliance with RTE norms is over. This includes significant increase in the number of teachers, additional classrooms, school libraries etc. Teacher recruitment has started, but not in proportion to the total requirement.
• A fifth of the time to ensure that all teachers- present and future are trained (including setting up future teacher training institutes) is over
What HAS happened in the previous year is
• Revision of the SSA framework to bring it in accordance with the RTE norms.
• National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)/State CPCRs being given role of monitoring RTE. Fact that they does not report to the education department give them a degree of independence. However, they often lack the human and financial resources to truly undertake the goal of actually address all the complaints that exist across the country. Besides, only 15 States have SCPCRs (or interim bodies called Right to Education Protection Authorities)
• Beginning of child tracking in a few states (eg Rajasthan, MP)- with view of ensuring that children do not drop out. Even a cursory look at the
• Recruitment of teachers in some states, but not UP which has the larger shortages in the country. UP government feels it lacks the resources to fill the gap. Centre-State turf delayed implementation this year with several states digging in their heels and demanding more money for implementation.
• Rethink of the processes of teacher training for the future. National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education prepared. Teacher Eligibility Test to come into force (to ensure teacher competence). Talk of improving working conditions of teachers. However, most of these are still at the vision stage and have not yet been rolled out. In the meantime, several states (eg Orissa) have asked for extension to permit hiring of untrained teachers for another three years and are hiring another 25,000 untrained teachers.
• Beginning of construction of additional infrastructure. Again, not all states and not matching the need. Of course, the army still continues to occupy the schools in several of the areas of civil unrest despite repeated interventions by the Supreme Court.
• All above figures are for averages. The situation is worse in areas inhabited by dalits, adivasis, muslims and in the slums in cities. Discrimination is still frequent in schools.
• An increase in several state and central education budgets. However, in this year’s budget: MHRD had asked for Rs 34,000 crore for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in the 2011-12 budget to spend on recruiting trained teachers, training untrained teachers, setting up schools and improving basic facilities at schools. What the ministry has got for the SSA is Rs 21,000 crore, just Rs 2,000 crore above last year’s revised allocation. This is bound to negatively impact implementation since many of the big ticket expenditures were anticipated to happen in the coming year as the system slowly gets into gear for implementation. The track record of the investments committed by the States in the coming year is also patchy- ranging from an impressive and trend setting 109% increase in Punjab to a roughly 10-15% increase in Delhi
Why have things not moved?
1. Education is not a political issue- children’s education as something non negotiable not established- no sense of outrage that children are not in school and the standards of education are as poor as they are, especially for the children of the most marginalized.
2. Collective mobilization on the issue does not exist- no collective force of all key stakeholders coming together to demand quality education for all.
3. The scale of the problems- and their bewildering array- is huge. Can probably be paralyzing for state governments.
4. Lack of awareness about the Act. Those expected to implement the provisions- especially at the lower levels of the system (in other words, those actually expected to implement things) are not aware of the provisions. Government has not thought through its messaging on the key provisions of the Act.
What is the stocktaking about?
1. Not just the taking stock, but about all the principal education networks and agencies coming together to hold the state to account for the implementation of the law and eventually push the boundaries for enhancing its provisions.
2. Such a process requires people getting a sense of the status across the country and the progress made during the previous year.