Campaign for full implementation of Right to Education launched in DelhiNovember 3, 2014
NEW DELHI: The second deadline for the implementation of the Right to Education Act will expire in about 150 days in March 2015. By that time, all teachers were to be trained and permanent appointments were to be made. But that goal seems even more remote than the infrastructure one had seemed in 2013. The group of NGOs, independent activists and academics who form the Right to Education Forum are now starting a campaign-'Claiming Education for Every Child'-demanding full implementation of the RTE Act, passed in 2009. Also, they'd like the Prime Minister to focus on more than just toilets.
"The RTE is being implemented like a scheme and not as a right," argues Ambarish Rai, national convener, RTE Forum. The forum conducts an annual survey on levels of compliance with the act. According to the last round's findings, 100% compliance exists in less than 10% schools across the country. "You can't just isolate the toilet issue," says Rai, "there are millions of out-of-school children, thousands of government schools have closed over the last three years on the pretext of school merger and most of the training of teachers is in private hands".
Muchkund Dubey, professor of international relations at Jawaharlal Nehru University, says that the government did "no preparatory work" before starting the implementation process-No child or school mapping survey was undertaken and no assessment was done of the institutions available for training. "The previous government used it as a tool during elections and the present one is silent on it," he observes.
R C Dabas, vice-president of All India Primary Teachers' Federation, adds that the country's government school system is running on the strength of 1.5 lakh para-teachers who were to be trained and regularized by March 2015.
But full compliance with the RTE Act means that more money will have to be pumped into the system. "India lacks 12 lakh regular, trained and qualified teachers in government schools...states are continuing the recruitment of low-paid contract teachers-in gross violation of the RTE norms. Instead of strengthening the RTE Act and restructuring government schools, the government is handing over schools to private entities, in the name of quality improvement," says a statement issued by the forum.
Over the next 150 days, the forum will document instances of violation, take legal recourse, rally support over social media and attempt to explain to the government why they should "review the implementation of the RTE Act" and not the act itself.