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Graduate in Maths, Postgraduate in English literature. Worked as a medical transcriptionist, also as a teacher.

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Right to Education Act

Hello all,
                  Yes, it has been quite sometime since I posted anything. In fact, it is more than 2 months since I wrote anything here. It goes without saying that a blog's life depends on the passion and the fire that the blogger breathes into it.  I hope to keep my blog frequently updated to my best possible, since it is my beloved baby.
                         About a couple of months back, there was a news of  the daughter of an auto rickshaw driver topping in CA (Chartered Accountancy) exams in the first attempt. Not only did she clear these exams in the first attempt, but also became the first rank holder in the national level which only a few could dream of. Her brother also managed to clear the CA exams in the first attempt. I am sure, all of you would have read this news with great enthusiasm congratulated her for her stupendous achievement against all odds. Her family lives in Malad, in a home of 280 sq. ft. With this achievement, it is only a matter of time, the family's financial condition will be improved. We can never imagine the amount of struggle that they would have undergone to reach this level. 
                            We come across news like these once a while. A cobbler's daughter cracked IIT entrance, labourers' child clearing medical entrance. New items like these give us a feeling that not all is lost and there is always a ray of hope out there. But, is that all? What we fail to realize is that these handful of toppers are sadly high exceptions who fought for years the harsh and hard battle of poverty and coupled with that, the illiteracy of their own parents. What about the majority of  those children who are denied education or are not able to come up in their lives just because for the 'sin' of being born in the houses of abject poverty? Is it fair that when our children go to prestigious schools, our domestic helps' children, who are underage, become dropouts to work as additional helps in our houses by looking after our children and doing domestic chores?

                                   Our country passed Right To Education Act in the year 2009 guaranteeing compulsory and free education to children aged between 6 and 14  for the benefit of economically weaker and poor sections. It is every child's birthright to receive education irrespective of where he/she is born. It is not that when a child in a middle class family goes to school, the child born in the red-light area is not eligible. The highlights of this Act is that apart from being the fundamental right of every child aged between 6-14 to receive education, it requires that private schools reserve 25% of seats for children from poor families. It should take the child without interviewing his/her parents.  The amount will be reimbursed by the State as the part of private-public partnership plan. It makes provisions for no donations or capitation fees. There is also provision for special training for school dropouts to bring them up to the level of students of same age. This was a landmark act that was passed for the upliftment of children who are denied education. But, after more than 3 years,  it is high time to look  and analyse how successful or not.
                                           The real picture is that, the private schools are reluctant to admit those economically backward children under the 25% quota. It is understandable because these private schools, which are driven by profit, will have to forego that much money which will be got through admission fees and donation. Whatever the amount the Government promises to reimburse will be much less than that which will be got otherwise. According to the act, the teacher student ratio should be 1:30 for the primary level, and 1:35 for the upper level. But, many of the schools, especially Government schools, do not fulfill this basic criterion. There also need to be sufficient usable toilets in the schools. But, here also, many schools do not adhere to this basic requirement. That is why, in spite of the mid-day meal schemes in Government schools, there is a predictable dropout rates, when it comes to girls as they reach the puberty level. Though, the overall enrollment rates have improved after this act was implemented, it goes without saying that there is a long way to go. Boys are still preferred over girls when it comes to sending children to schools.
                              Still some dismal findings are that, many of the schools do not have sufficient teachers and headmasters. Students who have gone past the primary level are not able to do simple addition or subtraction that involves borrowing numbers. Some states like Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh show good levels in literacy rates, while those in the North lag much behind. The Government's decision to put the onus of educating the poor on the private schools highlights their own failure to run the Government-aided schools properly. Even the poor people who can manage just about, prefer sending their wards to private schools for guaranteed education in English medium, even if it means burning their pockets.
                               If we want to see more diamonds in the heaps of coal, our Government needs to be more aggressive in implementing RTE Act properly and private schools should also co-operate for the long-term well being of our country.
                             Anybody who has ideas regarding this topic are welcome to put forward. We can collectively work for a better and a brighter tomorrow.