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Home truths


RANJIT BHUSHAN | New Delhi, March 16, 2013 11:15
Tags : RTE | UPA government | Free education |

While the UPA government's introduction of the Right To Education (RTE) three years ago is commendable by any yardstick as first steps towards establishing it as a fundamental right throughout the length and breadth of the country, the enormity of the efforts required by all concerned can only be considered herculean in its proportions.
A recent survey conducted in Delhi - by all means a minuscule representation – tells a story. And if this is what is happening in the national capital of the country, it is not too difficult to fathom what must be happening in other, lesser developed areas.
Social help group JOSH initiated a survey in Delhi schools which covered 1,425 households and 29 schools, the results of which can only be described as `startling'. The main finding of the survey is that there is acute need for an effective time-bound grievance redressal mechanism, a space where parents' can raise legitimate concerns. Both children and parents today do not know where to go – despite the fact that RTE will complete 3 years on March 31.
Just how mammoth the hurdles are can be gauged from the fact that in 99 per cent cases, the management committees, so vital in implementation of the act which is actually envisioned as a right, are yet to be set up. The survey said that barring a few municipal corporation schools in east Delhi's Trilokpuri  - interestingly a working class locality – the committees have failed to be set up.Reason:  a delay in the notification of Delhi state rules. But more than year after notification, no official order on formation of such panels has reached schools.
The survey indicated that more than 70 percent students said they do not complain even if they have a problem with the teacher. Clearly, one of the big problems here is the utter lack of awareness of the RTE among parents and children alike. The survey said that access to free and compulsory education is limited especially in terms of denial of admission based on documents, fees being charged and for students with special needs.
But by far the biggest obstacle remains the school dropout rate. No functional toilets and corporal punishment are two key reasons why children decide to drop out of school. The survey said that 25 percent of schools lack functional toilets and while 30 percent did not have drinking water. So while the spirit of RTE must be appreciated as a good first step, the gap between planning and implementation appears unbridgeable at the moment.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog are that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Sunday Indian)
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017