Response to sub committee mhrd Delhi Forum


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Submission made to the MHRD Standing Committee by the Delhi State RTE Forum.

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Response to sub committee mhrd Delhi Forum

  1. 1. Submission to the MHRD Standing Committee on the RTE Act - By Delhi RTE Forum1The right to education has been universally recognized since the Universal Declaration ofHuman Rights and has since been enshrined in various international conventions, nationalconstitutions and development plans. The present submission has been made from theperspective of implementation of the RTE Act in the context of the Delhi State on one handand the overall intent to promote inclusion of children from marginalized communities on theother.The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 has been analyzedin three areas:I. Issues pertaining to implementation of RTE Act in DelhiII. Addressing Equity-Inclusion in RTEIII. Budget for RTE I. ISSUES PERTAINING TO RTE IMPLEMENTATION IN DELHI AND RESULTING OUT OF THE STATE RULESWhile the Committee seeks inputs pertaining to delivery of education at the national level,the experience of Delhi (as an urban metropolis and a State in its own right) can beillustrative of the problems being faced by the country as a whole. Consequently, it is oursubmission that these issues and suggestions being made would be of use for drawingrecommendations for the entire country, especially in the urban context.1. Children related issues: As per government’s own reports, the number of children out of school for age group 6-14 years is recognized to be 32,063. However, as per a survey conducted on street children in Delhi, there are estimated 50,923 street children below the age group of 18 years. They form about 0.4% of the total population of Delhi2. According to a 2009 survey done by Samajik Suvidha Sangam Society under the aegis of the Delhi govt, New Delhi, the capital city has 2.42 lakh children out of school. Only 71% of Delhi’s children attend school against the national figure of 94.5% and 100 % for the states like Tamil Nadu. While a decline in the out of school figure may have happened in the intervening period, there is sufficient ground to question the government estimate of out of school children as being too low. The mechanism for bridging this huge number of children is not clear. Special trainings under RTE have not been initiated. The necessary human resources for undertaking this task also appear to be lacking. Recommendations:1 The Delhi RTE Forum is a loose federation of efforts by groups active on Right to Education in Delhi Stateincluding among others APR, CRY, CSEI, Oxfam India, Save the Children, JOSH, ActionAid India, CACL, EFRAH, PLANIndia, NCE, Welthugerhilfe, UNICEF, Room to Read
  2. 2. Setting up of comprehensive Child Tracking System and a protocol for responding for responding to instances of extreme absenteeism when such is reported. Number of bridge courses and residential facilities for children hitherto after school need to be enhanced commensurate with the actual numbers. These numbers are constantly increasing given the trend of urbanization.2. Exclusion: Despite the High Court order dated, 15th Sep, 2009, civic bodies delivering education in the city (Govt. of Delhi, NDMC, MCD) are yet to recruit permanent teachers for children with disability. After, the direction of the court, Government of Delhi has created about 926 posts and MCD has 1,700 posts for teachers for an estimated population of over two lakh children with disability. Yet, according to media reports, no recruitment for permanent teachers has happened in this category. Out of a sample of 207 schools in the city, only 21.25 % of schools have trained teachers to work with children with special needs. The recent move by the government to permit construction of four storey school buildings3 is an understandable move under the pressure of school shortages. However, it is unclear how the government intends to ensure wheelchair access to the upper floors for children with disability. Previous experience shows that upper floors are not accessible for children with disability even in two storey schools. As in 2009-10, 29.5% schools continued to lack even a ramp to ensure access for children with disability within schools4.Recommendations Availability of trained special educators needs to be enhanced which would in turn require an enhancement in the capacity of the teacher training organizations.3. Teachers: As per media reports, presently there are 6000 posts of teachers lying vacant in Delhi government schools5 84.22% primary and 50.20% upper primary schools do not meet the RTE requirement of school level PTR. Besides, nearly 1% schools (more than 3% in North Delhi) are single teacher schools6. The government has announced the appointment of 9,000 teachers7. This is a positive development. However, there is reason to believe that they would only be in place by 2012.8 Furthermore, according to SPD, SSA, Delhi 12,000 posts of teachers have been created to make the PTR satisfactory at the school level9 Apart from the overall shortages of teachers, there is the question of involvement of teachers in non-teaching work. Out of 207 schools surveyed, 95% of the schools, teachers were been involved in non-teaching duties10 Only 13,629 teachers were provided training out of total of 57, 143 teachers employed in government schools in Delhi11.
  3. 3. As per a baseline survey conducted in a sample of 207 schools in Delhi, there is presence of para teachers in 16 schools12Recommendations Hiring of additional teachers and laying down a protocol for replacing positions as and when they arrive. This would also entail having a pool of teachers over and above the existing sanctioned posts to be deputed against the long term vacancies. This would ensure that sporadic shortages of teachers cease. Order in this direction has been made in the past by the Delhi High Court which needs to be complied with. It can also serve as a good example for other parts of the country.4. Infrastructure: The government of Delhi has proposed an outlay of Rs. 270 crores for construction of new school buildings 2011-2012 Deplorable condition of schools, with non functional toilets and lack of provision of potable water is common government run schools in the city, says the report submitted by three member committee constituted by the High Court13 As per the survey, out of 207 schools only 4.83% schools had potable water facility. This fact is again ratified, with another study conducted in 50 MCD schools, which also indicate poor drinking water facility in schools14Recommendations Map the requirements and catchment areas of the schools against the RTE norms to arrive on an overall requirement.5. Status of Admission under EWS quota: As per media reports, MCD authorities claim only 608 admissions took place in private schools under the EWS quota. There are a total of 783 primary private schools recognized by MCD, having around 1000 seats reserved for children for economically weaker section of the society15. Need for transparency mechanisms wherein the actual status of the enrollment is known and a protocol needs to be laid down to ensure action when schools fail to provide requisite number of seats6. Community Related Issues: School Management Committees have not been formed and consequently no action taken towards formation of School Development Plans Only 27% of the grant on community mobilization activities under SSA was spent in the preceding year. This has been a consistently ignored head in several urban areas across the country- not just Delhi and would require emphasis.Notification of State RulesDelhi finally notified its State rules in November 2011. Contrary to the Model Rules, theDelhi State rules appoint the head teacher of the school as the head of the SMC. This iscontrary to the spirit of the RTE Act which envisages a parent making the decisions
  4. 4. pertaining to the delivery of the education in their schools and making decisions pertainingto the financial allocations through their role in planning. This empowering clause has beenremoved from the Delhi rules which is likely to create difficulties in fulfilling the Act’s longterm mandate. Several key issues like the definition of the local authority, provisions formigrant children have also not been included. Furthermore, it remains unclear at this timewhat would be the structure for community participation in government schools at ClassesIX onwards with the existing structure- the VKS which used to hold for the entire schoolrange being disbanded to make way for the SMC (till Class VIII).Critical orders and guidelines for formation and capacity building of SMCs, mechanisms fordelimitation of catchment areas of schools, mapping of infrastructure and teacheravailability against the enrollment of children, a protocol for greviance redressal,admission of the State Run Special Trainings for dropout children, implementation ofContinious and Comprehensive Evaluation, education of migrant children especially fromnon Hindi speaking states in their mother tongue and hostel provisions for migrantchildren needs to be done. A critical question on the implementation of the 25% quota inDelhi has been with regard to the compliance with the provisions. While reservations havebeen put into place (unlike several states) the steps to be taken in case a school fails tocomply with the procedure laid down is less clear. This would be something the nationalprocess would also need to be done.1 Hindustan Times, 2011-03-152 Study conducted by Save the Children in collaboration with Institute for HumanDevelopment (IHD) in all nine districts of Delhi in 2010.3 State Report Cards, DISE 2009-10. Provisional5 Indian Express, 2011-05-276 Minutes of P&B Meeting held on 6th May 2011, for Approval of the Annual Work Plan &Budget of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Delhi7 Minutes of P&B Meeting held on 6th May 2011, for Approval of the Annual Work Plan &Budget of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Delhi10 Study conducted across four zones (North, South, East and West) of Delhi. The studywas conducted using questionnaire supplied by NCPCR. This study was conducted bypartners (EFRAH, JOSH and Swati) of Oxfam India11 As per PAB meeting minutes, held on 16th of May 2011, Department of Education andLiterary, MHRD, Govt. of India.12 Study conducted across four zones (North, South, East and West) of Delhi. The studywas conducted using questionnaire supplied by NCPCR. This study was conducted bypartners (EFRAH, JOSH and Swati) of Oxfam India13 Indian Express, 2011-05-1814 Study conducted by Save the Children along with SARD in two zones of the city.15 Hindustan Times, 2011-05-14
  5. 5. II. ADDRESSING EQUITY –INCLUSION ISSUES IN ELEMENTARY EDUCATIONThe Right to Education Act, 2009, despite many deficiencies is distinct and progressive inmaking education a Right for children, making it compulsory for the state to ensure thisright, for explicitly recognizing issues of exclusion and discrimination including castebased, for some standardization of indicators, in requiring every school managementcommittee to prepare its own school development plan. This provides a challenge forimplementation and opportunity to demand and ensure quality and equity education forour children. Even as it provides legal entitlement for children belonging to disadvantagedgroups 2 and weaker sections, their actual participation will require innovative andsustained measures integrated with mainstream interventions to ensure meaningfulprogress on equity. SSA is the current vehicle for RTE Act implementation and hence aprocess of RTE-SSA harmonization3 process has been undertaken that details how RTE canbe implemented on the ground.The present section of this submission, therefore, looks at the existing provisions forinclusion both within the Act itself and the resultant revised SSA framework to identify thekey positive provisions under the Act. It further looks at some of the actions that must bemade to strengthen the implementation of the same to ensure that inclusion and equity areensured for children and people from marginalized communities. 1. Definitions in RTE ActArt 2 (d) defines ‘Disadvantaged Groups’ as children belonging to SC, ST, socially andeducationally backward class … or such other factors as may be specified by theappropriate government. (2(d))Art 2 (e) defines ‘Weaker Sections’ as children belonging to parents or guardians whoseannual income is lower than the minimum specified by the appropriate government bynotification. (2(e))SSA has identified different groups of children that currently face exclusion and efforts forequity and inclusion necessary: i) SC children, ii) ST children, iii) Muslim children, iv) Girlchildren, v) urban poor children, vi) children with special needs, vii) children affected bymigration, viii) working children/child labour, ix) children who have never gone to school,x) children who have dropped out before VIII standard, xi) children living in remote andscattered habitations, xii) children affected by civil strife and conflict, xii) children affectedby HIV-AIDS xiii) children of landless agricultural workers, xiv) children from displacedfamilies, xv) children in difficult circumstances. The RTE Act encourages local governmentsto specifically identify groups that are excluded or discriminated. While some measures areoutlined, we have the right to demand and shape education to meet their needs andaspirations.2 An amendment to the RTE Act has been proposed to include children with disabilities under the definition ofdisadvantaged groups.3 Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan: Framework of Implementation, GoI, March 2011
  6. 6. 2. Rights, Equity and Inclusion ApproachesIn the context of RTE, the equity agenda of SSA would work towards: Moving from an incentives-and-provisions-based approach to a rights and entitlements Developing a deeper understanding on issues contributing to exclusion and disadvantage, arising from entrenched hierarchical structures (social, language, cultural, religious backgrounds), prevalent stereotypes and the challenges faced by children from disadvantaged communities including within the school space. Assessing needs of different excluded and marginalized groups and communities and consequently addressing these needs through contextualized strategies. Encouraging innovative thinking and dialogue to identify holistic, multi-pronged and viable strategies to address issues of gender and equity -inclusion Encouraging up-scaling and institutionalization of interventions and strategies found effective, viable and sustainable with a view to strengthening the mainstream education system. 3. Some Important Equity-Inclusion SectionsWhile every Article in the Act is critically important, a few are particularly relevant andneeds our special attention in implementation.Art 3 {4} – appropriate special trainings shall be given to children who are admitted to ageappropriate classes having been drop outs or had never been to schools.Art 8 {c} and 9 {c} mandates that children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantagedgroups are not discriminated against and prevented from pursuing and completingelementary education on any grounds.Art 12 provides for minimum 25% reservation in the starting class to children fromDisadvantaged and Weaker sections to be admitted in neighborhood private schools, withthe fees being reimbursed by the government.Art 13 (1) prohibits capitation fee and screening procedures for admission of childrenincluding private schoolsArt 15 says that children will not be denied admission at any time in the school year, whileit is preferred that they join at the beginning of the school year.Art 17 says that children shall not be subjected to corporal punishment or mentalharassmentArt 21 mandates School Management Committees with three-fourths of members beingparents or guardians, ensure appropriate representation of parents of children belongingto Disadvantaged groups and Weaker sections, 50% being women.Art 22 School Management Committees shall prepare the School Development Plans
  7. 7. Art 29 {g} provides children a learning environment free from fear, trauma and anxiety andhelping the child to express views freelyArt 31 mandates the NCPCR/SCPCR/REPA to protect and monitor the rights of childrenunder the Act. 4. Strategies for InclusionAs stated previously, the Act and the resultant Revised SSA framework makes severalcritical provisions for inclusion of children from marginalized groups. The broadframework and several key provisions of the same have already been laid down, but theimplementation of the same has been lagging. Consequently, the rest of the present chapterfocuses on suggesting steps to strengthen the implementation of the provisions for equityand inclusion of children from marginalized communities. i. Inclusion of Children from Disadvantaged Groups 1. As a first step in the exercise of bringing children from marginalised backgrounds into school a careful mapping of these children – who they are and where they live – will have to be undertaken systematically and annually. While SSA has already identified Special Focus Districts (SFDs) with concentration of SC, ST and Muslim communities. However, the work in this regard needs to be strengthened on the ground. 2. A further unpacking of the layers of exclusion that exist within these districts will be required by the local authorities who have been given the role of identifying out-of- school children and ensuring that they are brought into school.Since the RTE Act guarantees elementary education in a neighborhood school, theneighborhood can be the best unit for identification of marginalized children. Process ofdelimitation of the neighbourhoods across the country needs to be accelerated as a result.The School Management Committees (SMCs) envisaged in the RTE Act would have to play akey role in the mapping exercise as well as in ensuring inclusive strategies in the SchoolDevelopment Plan, the preparation of which has also been entrusted to them. This wouldalso entail a systematic process of capacity building of the general body of the SMC toenable it to play this ambitious role.RTE-SSA framework suggests various interventions for inclusion of children fromDisadvantaged Groups. These are all positive steps that need to be rolled out on the groundin order to actually bring about change in the lives of India’s children. The provisions laiddown were as follows: i. Establishing norms of behaviour within the school for teachers and students. ii. Timely detection of forms of discrimination practiced in a particular context by either teachers or students. Finding ways of listening to children’s voices would be crucial to this exercise. Setting up a system of reporting on discriminatory practices at the school level would be a place to start. Complaint boxes that are regularly dealt with at SMC meetings are a suggested intervention.
  8. 8. iii. Timely redressal of instances of discrimination at the level of the school or Block. iv. Escorts to school for SC children. v. Establishing norms for classroom interactions such as seating patterns that ensure that children are not segregated on the basis of caste, community or gender. Models like rotation of seating (Nali-Kali) and sitting in groups have been experimented successfully in some states. vi. Co-curricular activities, such as sports, music and drama which tend to break social barriers among children. vii. Recognizing the agency of and roles of teachers. viii. Sensitisation of teachers from the stage of pre-service training onwards. Special modules should be developed by recognised experts for use in teacher education and training programmes. Special in-service training within the mandated 20 days should be organised to deal with the specific problems of inclusion at the Block level. ix. Setting norms for teacher behaviour. Some norms related to corporal punishment and abuse have been included in the RTE. x. Helping the teacher develop pedagogical tools and classroom practices that allow social barriers to be broken. Technical support in developing such tools should be sought from experts as well as civil society groups. xi. Providing adequate infrastructure for elementary schooling in districts with concentration of SC/ST and Muslim population. xii. Opening schools in SC/ST and Muslim concentrated neighbourhood wherever required. xiii. Special training as per need for age appropriate admission xiv. Interventions for specific categories of deprived children belonging to scheduled caste community living in difficult circumstances. xv. Monitoring attendance and retention of children regularly xvi. Providing context specific intervention in the form of a special facility like residential schools or transport as required.xvii. Systematic and robust research on specific constraints faced by Muslim children in different areas. Muslims, like SCs and STs are not a homogeneous community and exhibit wide differences in social and cultural practices in different states.xviii. Providing ‘girls only’ schools in Muslim concentrated neighbourhoods. xix. Providing Urdu medium schools in Muslim concentrated neighbourhoods. xx. Recruitment of more Urdu teachers, especially in Muslim concentrated areas; xxi. Sensitisation of all teachers to issues of cultural and religious diversity especially in relation to Muslims.xxii. Incorporation of practices, such as due representation of Muslim culture in curricular and pedagogical processes;xxiii. Encouraging discussion of Muslim cultural and religious practices in the school or classroom with the help of community members;xxiv. Celebration of Muslim festivals in the schools; xxv. Sensitive handling of Muslim children during Ramzan when they may be fasting and adequate representation of Muslim parents in the SMC. ii. Children belonging to most under-privileged groups: The following groups by far have been classified among the most disadvantaged groups:
  9. 9. i) Urban deprived children. ii) Child labour, particularly bonded child labour and domesticworkers, iii) Children in ecologically deprived area where they are required to fetch fuel,water, fodder and do other household chores, iv) Children in very poor slum communitiesand uprooted urban habitations, v) Children of families of scavengers and other suchstigmatised professions, vi) Children of itinerant or seasonal labour who have mobile andtransient lifestyle like construction workers, road workers and workers on largeconstruction sites, vii) Children of landless agriculture labour, viii) Nomadic communitiesand pastoralists, ix) Forests dwellers and tribals in remote areas and children residing inremote desert hamlets, x) Children in areas affected by civil strifeRecommended strategies 1. Well established hostels and residential schools wherever necessary. The norms and standards for these would need to be standardized and adhered to- especially considering that the RTE Act itself does not talk about laying down the norms and standards for residential schools. 2. Transportation to and from school 3. Other integrated and participatory interventions in collaboration with government agencies, NGOs and community.iii. Education of children affected by migration SSA encourages identification of districts,blocks and villages/cities or towns from where or to which there is a high incidence ofmigration. Again, many of these provisions have already been attempted in severallocations, but would require a systematic application across the country and on a scale thatis commensurate with the problems at hand.Some strategies can be developed on the following ideas:(a) seasonal hostels or residential camps to retain children in the sending villages/urbanhabitat during the period of migration. The provision already exists in the SSA framework,however, has not been rolled out on the ground to the extent desired. Furthermore, carewould be needed to ensure that the facilities provided ensure the safety and well being ofchildren which would in turn require a rethink of some of the budget heads.(b) transportation facility to and from the school in the vicinity of the worksite, and if it isnot practical then work-site schools should be provided at the location where migrantfamilies are engaged in work,(c) peripatetic educational volunteer/s who can move with the migrating families to takecare of children’s education during the period they are on move from school at one locationto school at the other, and,(d) strategies for tracking of children through migration cards / other records to enablecontinuity in their education before, during and after the migration.iv. Urban Deprived Children: Urban areas have special challenges like the education ofstreet children, the education of children who are rag pickers, homeless children, childrenwhose parents are engaged in professions that makes childrens education difficult,education of children living in urban working class slums, children who are working inindustry, children working in households, children at tea shops, garages etc. Other city
  10. 10. specific features are: very high cost of land, heterogeneous community and highopportunity cost etc.While SSA would encourage a wide variety of need based, local specific innovations, someexamples of context specific innovative intervention for marginalised communities anddisadvantaged groups can include: i. Awareness building on child rights and entitlements as per the RTE Act at the grassroots level. ii. Need to provide spaces for education in the mother tongue for incoming migrants from other cities and residential facilities for children from migrant families- including the education of children of construction workers etc. iii. Ensure that availability of education and schooling is ensured for children from communities displaced during the course of demolition drives etc before uprooting children from existing communities. iv. Forming support groups and safety nets for children without adult protection, homeless children, children working as domestic help, child beggars and other groups of children in extremely difficult circumstances v. Enhancing the transparency systems in schools with enhanced spaces for display of information of schools online. vi. Providing avenues and creating forums for encouraging the voice of children as key stakeholders in the education system. vii. Viable interventions to promote enrolment and retention, especially for children from marginalized communities and migrants. Innovative strategies for special training to groups of most disadvantaged children.viii. Strengthening of ECCE centres and support in capacity building of ECCE workers. This would be especially critical to address the needs of working mothers. ix. Community based monitoring of teacher and student attendance, child participation and protection of their rights. x. Building a congenial learning environment inside and outside the school.v. Monitoring Gender and social inclusion provisionsIssues of gender and social exclusion require careful monitoring. Monitoring andaccountability mechanisms would be evolved and strengthened at different levels. 1. The RTE Act stipulates that 50% of the parents in the SMC will be women. 50% teachers should be female. The mechanism for empowering women members of the SMC would require emphasis if they are to play the role anticipated of them. 2. Sensitisation training programmes for PRIs. The support of NGOs and other government programmes like Mahila Samakhya should be actively sought. 3. Social audits to report on the practices inside the school and classrooms, and 4. Detection of gender based discrimination as integral part of social audit processes in schools under different management system, including, private Education of Children with Special NeedsA group that forms a very important part of equity issues under SSA is Children withSpecial Needs (CWSN). The key thrust of RTE will be on providing inclusive education to allchildren with special needs in general schools. This is recognized under all international
  11. 11. treaties, including the recently ratified convention. However, action on the ground needs tobe accelerated to ensure that key provisions are met.The following activities could be a part of ensuring access by children with disability- viz.Mapping of CWSN, assessment of CWSN for mapping of needs, Aids and appliances, Removalof architectural barriers and educational placement:Every child with special needs should be placed in the neighbourhood schools, with neededsupport services. Children with special needs need to be facilitated to acquire certain skillsthat will enable them to access elementary education as envisaged in the Act. For instance,they may need mobility training, training in Braille, sign language, postural training, etc.School preparedness of children with special needs must be ensured by providing ‘specialtraining’ which may be residential, non residential or even home based, as per their specificrequirements. After a period of preparedness they should be admitted to theneighbourhood schools.A critical gap from the perspective of children with disability has been the shortage oftrained teachers- both in terms of specialized educators trained on disability and teacherswithin the mainstream system that are able to work in an inclusive environment. Thiswould need to be addressed at the earliest for inclusion to be ensured.5. Grievance Redress: The first line of complaint is the SMC. The Act entrustsgrievance redress mechanisms to NCPCR/SCPCR to examine and review safeguards,receive and inquire into complaints, and take necessary redress mechanisms. Recognizingthat this is a tremendous task, it is an opportunity to work together to ensure dignity,equity, inclusion and opportunities for all children, in particular children fromDisadvantaged and Weaker sections. Specific efforts to facilitate complaints byrepresentatives of marginalized communities need to be done. Listing out legal entitlements guaranteed under the RTE Act and making this information available in the public along with lists of designated officers for each of these legal entitlements has been suggested. The lists of officers designated to handle legal entitlements should be made public and a time schedule should be fixed for disposal of such grievances and complaints. A mechanism for facilitating the submission of complaints by children needs to be put into force. One possibility is the designation of a Grievance Redressal Officer (could be a SMC member as well) at the level of the school/Panchayat to collect complaint by children. Another is the setting up of a helpline for children to launch their own complaints. Adding provisions for making various authorities in the education department accountable for violating RTEIII. Budget for RTE1. Overview of Education Expenditure in Context of RTE i. The 6% Target
  12. 12. The National Policy on Education, 1986 stated the need to increase expenditure oneducation till it reaches 6% of GDP. This was reportedly based on the recommendations ofthe Kothari Commission (1964-66). Further on, the UPA government in its CommonMinimum Programme (2004) pledged to achieve this target in a ‘phased manner’. Thelatest set of statistics available from the Ministry of Human Resource Development showthat the pledge is still far from fulfilled. This is of course not to deny that realizations havebeen low in places and greater efforts need to be made to ensure absorption from withinthe system.Table 1: Budgeted Expenditure on Education* Year Total Education Education Expenditure as Expenditure (in Rs % of GDP crores) 2006-07 137383.99 3.64 2007-08 161419.92 (RE)** 3.74 2008-09 186498.58 (BE)*** 3.78*GDP figures have been taken from National Accounts Statistics, Central Statistical Organization.Education expenditure figures have been taken from Budgeted Expenditure on Education, Dept.of Higher Education, MHRD* *Revised Expenditure*** Budget Expenditureii. Present AllocationsThe government intends to implement RTE through the SSA, according to various Ministryof Human Resources Development (MHRD) officials as well as the Anil Bordia CommitteeReport, April 2010. The Bordia Committee was formed to look into the details ofincorporating the norms of RTE into the existing SSA structure. The following tablepresents a summary of the allocations which have been made in the current fiscal budgetwith respect to education.Table 2: Allocations for 2010-2011 Allocation (2010-2011) (in Rs crores) Education 49,904 School Education and Literacy 33,214 SSA 15,000 Grants-in-aid for 24,068 elementary educationSource: Union Budget 2010-11, 13th Finance Commission ReportThe allocation to SSA implies that Rs 15,000 crores is available with the Centre to spend onRTE this year, pending revisions to the budget. As shown in Section 5, this falls short ofwhat is required to implement the Act. This shortfall is in turn reflected in the delivery ofeducational provisions that is below international standards. iii. Financial Estimations for Achieving UEE
  13. 13. The following table shows the various estimates that have been made, over the years, forachieving UEE through a fundamental Right to Education.Table 3: Estimates for Achieving UEE Amount Required (Rs Average AnnualAuthority/Source crores) Requirement (Rs crores) Saikia Committee (1997) 40,000 for five years 8000 Tapas MajumdarCommittee (1999) 1,36,922 for ten years 13, 692.293rd Amendment Bill(2001) 98,000 for ten years 9800CABE Committee Report* 3,21,196 to 4,36,459 for 53,533 to 72,743(2005) six yearsNUEPA* (2009) 1,71,780 for five years 34,356The Saikia Committee, a committee of state education ministers, had made only a roughestimate, taking a per-child expenditure of Rs 948 and multiplying it with the number ofchildren in the age group 6-14. When the task was handed over to the Tapas MajumdarCommittee, it was done in a much more thorough manner, resulting in a much higherestimate (Majumdar, 1999). A similar difference can be observed between the 2001 andthe 2005 estimates.A team from the National University for Educational Planning and Administration hasprepared a report titled ‘Financial Implications of the Right of Children to Free andCompulsory Education Act, 2009’, dated December 2009. The figure they arrived at is Rs171780 crores for over five years from 2010-11 to 2014-15, or about Rs 34356 crore peryear. This is the estimated additional cost for implementing RTE, which is to form the basisof the government’s budget allocation. It is over twice what has been allocated in the 2010-2011 Union Budget.The estimates have been made in a rather roundabout way. They have used the projectedchild population and the stipulated Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) of 30:1 to arrive at thenumber of additional teachers required. This number has then been used to estimate thenumber of additional classrooms and other infrastructure.A basic problem with this estimate is that it does not tally with the total of the states’estimates. When estimates were made separately for each state and totaled, the figurecame to Rs 204609 crores for expenditure over five years, or about Rs 40922 crores peryear. The following is the explanation for the mismatch as given in the report, supplied by aprofessor at the National University for Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA)who was part of the team. While making the national estimates, the number of additionalrequired teachers was aggregated in such a way that the number of excess and deficitteachers in different states could be cancelled out. This incorporates an assumption that an‘extra’ teacher from one state can be deployed to fill the vacancy in another state. In reality,this would obviously not be viable. When the estimates were made separately for each
  14. 14. state, the total number of additional teachers required turned out to be far more, resultingin a higher estimate.Accordingly, when the Act is put into practice, it will actually require at least Rs 2,04,609crores.Another questionable premise in these estimates are the teacher salaries, which have beenestimated as follows:• Rs 8400 per month for all teachers at primary level, and 80% of the teachers at upperprimary level• Rs 11,200 per month for 20% of the teachers at upper primary level, who are TrainedGraduate Teachers (TGTs)According to the report, these levels have been arrived at based on the revised pay scalesas per the Sixth Central Pay Commission (CPC) and with an assumption of a 40% rise in thesalaries estimated in the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) report 2005 (Rs6000 and Rs 8000 respectively, corresponding to the two levels given above). But judgingby the numbers, the CABE estimates have just been increased by 40%.It is also unclear whether these salaries comprise just the basic pay or the variousallowances as well. According to one set of estimates made by R.C. Jain, the total pay forprimary teachers inclusive of all allowances amounts to Rs 23,346, and that for a TGTamounts to Rs 25,287. According to the Dholakia and Jain study cited in section 4.1, the 6thCPC recommends Rs 13,042 for primary teachers and Rs 15,996 for secondary schoolsteachers. There seems to be ambiguity in the actual salaries that will be paid but, if any ofthese estimates are at all accurate, then there is a serious underestimation in the RTEbudget.Teacher salary forms the largest component in the NUEPA estimates; if the salaries havebeen underestimated, the actual budget could be substantially higher.The remaining problems in these estimates can be analysed by conducting a comparisonwith the CABE estimates, 2005.The CABE estimates present an average annual expenditure of Rs 53,533 to 72,743 crores.As per NEUPA’s 2009 estimates, this figure has fallen to Rs 34, 356. A study of the twoestimates reveals that there are several items which were accounted for in the 2005, butnot in 2009. Given that the schedule of norms and standards for a school in both the June2005 draft and the 2009 draft of the RTE bill is nearly the same, it needs to be examinedwhy there is a mismatch.In the CABE report, under Estimation of Financial Requirements, it has been stated:‘Norms and unit costs have been worked out as per the current practice in states andprovisions of the Right to Education Bill, 2005 and as per the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’.Therefore this report includes items such as kitchen facility for schools, and costs ofestablishing and running DIETS, CRCs and BRCs (teacher training institutions under SSA),
  15. 15. while they are missing from the new estimates. When asked about this, the NUEPAprofessors who were involved in making the estimates replied that in the interim betweenthe two estimates, these facilities and institutions have already been established to theextent that they need not be included again.Furthermore, under school equipment and grants, items such as computers, utensils, grantsto School Management Committees, and research grants are all missing from the newestimates, while they had been accounted for in 2005.Table 4: Comparison of Selected Statistics between the 2005 and 2009 Estimates 2005 2009 Duration over which estimates havebeen made 2006-07 to 2011-12 2010-11 to 2014-15 Projected child population in the agegroup 6-13, for the above duration (incrores) 22.57 to 24.89 18.69 to 18.24Number of additional teachersrequired, for the above duration (in 10.33 at a PTR of 30:1lakhs) 11.42 at a PTR of 35:1As per the above figures, it stands to reason that the cost would have come down.Consequently, a considerable enhancement in the education budget would berequiring in the coming years to ensure compliance with atleast the minimum normsand standards as laid down in the RTE Act. iv. Entitlement to ChildrenUnder section 3(2) of the RTE act, it is stated that, ‘no child shall be liable to pay any kind offee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completingthe elementary education…’ In the NUEPA report, this entitlement has been accounted foras such: 75% of the child population will receive free textbooks 50% of the child population will receive free uniformsThe remaining children are assumed to have been provided these by the states, or enrolledin private unaided schools. Transport facilities for children have not been accounted for atall, their variability across states being cited as the reason. Interestingly, the CABE report,which had done the same accounting as above, had stated that the financial estimateswould have to be ‘firmed up’ as the entitlement covered only free textbooks and uniforms.The problem remains with the 2009 estimates.A study by S. Chandrasekhar and Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay (2006) discusses in what waysthe direct costs of education can deter children from going to school.
  16. 16. It also calculates the additional expenditure which the government will have to incur inmaking primary education free, over and above the existing subsidies. This study may beused as an indicator of the inadequacy of the provisions that have been made under thishead.On the whole, the NUEPA estimates may be used as a point of reference. But they definitelydo not fully reflect the expenditure that will be incurred when RTE is put into practice.v. Centre-State Fund SharingAs per the SSA framework, the ratio in which the Centre and the states would share fundswas to change from 85:15 during the IX five year plan to 75:25 during the X five year plan,for all the states. During the XI five year plan, it would be 65:35 in 2007-08 and 2008-09,60:40 in 2009-2010, 55:45 in 2010-2011, and 50:50 thereafter. During this period, thefund-sharing pattern for the 8 North-eastern states would be 90:10, till the end of theprogramme. One way to analyse whether or not the states’ demands are justified is bylooking at their utilisation capacities under SSA. For instance, a report by theAccountability Initiative (2010) shows that Bihar spent only 42% of the total availablefunds in 2008-09, while Madhya Pradesh spent 57%. It is worth investigating whetherstates could do better simply by utilising available funds more punctually and efficiently. 2. SSA Fund-Flows and What Can Be Learnt From ThemGiven that RTE is to be implemented through SSA, and that the fund-flow mechanisms arenot going to be radically different, these problems are likely to persist and must be resolvedif RTE is to be a success. The following are the major reforms that have been identified asnecessary to ensure smooth implementation of RTE: i. Decentralised planningWhile a bottom-up planning approach is stressed everywhere on paper, it does not seem toexist in practice. A policy brief by the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP2007) states that the Annual Work Plans and Budget prepared by states are not accepted asthey are. It makes the case for planning to be more demand-driven, based on need factors,both among and within states. The 11th Joint Review Mission Report also stresses on thesame issue. It further states the need for all schools to make a School Development Plan,already mandated under RTE, which would be the basis for grants made to schools. ii. Flexibility in unit costsIn discussions with the TSG consultant, it was revealed that the costs of constructing aclassroom may go up by two or three times the unit cost prescribed by the government, inareas with unsuitable terrain. This goes to show that fixing a national level per-head costmay impede progress towards meeting the RTE norms and standards. The solution onceagain lies in a need based, demand-driven approach to financial planning. iii. Utilisation capacityBudget utilisation has improved over the years, but in 2009-2010, expenditure withrespect to total availability of funds was still only 62%. While states like Kerala and TamilNadu have been able to utilise over 90% of their funds, West Bengal, Chattisgarh and Biharare still lagging far behind (Joint Review Mechanism Report, 2010). This is another
  17. 17. problem that needs to be tackled quickly. Fund-flows must be monitored throughout theyear, at every level of implementation. iv. Capacity-building and technical expertiseThe SSA cadre of workers mostly comprises of contractual workers (with the contractusually lasting for a year) who are unable to execute sustainable progress. There is alsooften a clash between the state and the SSA-specific administrative bodies. Now, underRTE, a permanent, consolidated structure needs to be created, with a clearly definedadministrative hierarchy. Technical expertise also needs to be developed, so that the agentswho will enforce various provisions of the RTE are equipped to handle all the problemslisted above.v. Assessing Per-Child Expenditure in Context of RTE, Section 12Under Section 12 of the RTE act, all private unaided schools are required to reserve 25% oftheir seat in the entry-level class for children belonging to the economically weaker anddisadvantaged groups in the neighborhood. In exchange, the schools will be reimbursed anamount equal to the per-child expenditure of the state (or the actual amount charged to thechild, whichever is less).This clause has become a bone of contention between private schools and the government.As expected, most of the ‘elite’ schools in big cities are claiming that the reimbursementwill be nowhere near enough to cover their per-child expenses. They will have to hike thefee for the remaining 75% students, in an instance of cross-subsidization. This, in turn, hasunleashed a stream of protests from parents who send their children to these schools.However, some ground level work reveals even ‘budget private schools’8 may be unable tohave their expenses covered under this provision.The following table details the estimates of per-child expenditure given by the principals ofa few budget private schools in DelhiTable 5: Per-Child Expenditure of Private Schools Estimated Annual Per-ChildSchool Name Expenditure (in Rs)J.G.M. Public School (unrecognized) 5000 – 10,000Bharti Public School (unrecognized) 3500 – 4000Vardhaman Public School (unrecognized) 1800Atul Shiksha Sadan 15,000 – 20,000Eminent Public School 15,000 – 20,000Navgyan Jyoti School 45,00 – 7000None of these schools had any official figures for the per-child expenditure; they have allgiven rough estimates. The estimates are reportedly inclusive of all expenses that theschools incur. All these schools cater to an average of approximately 200-400 students.They provide basic facilities of drinking water and toilets. While these are rough figures,they do give an idea of the kind of reimbursement such schools would require. A pilot studyconducted by Micro Credit Ratings International Ltd. (M-CRIL) in Hyderabad for 35 budget
  18. 18. private schools reveals that their average annual operating expense per-child is Rs 2580.Again, however, the figures drastically from State to State and from school to school.These estimates, however, do not take into consideration the existing cross subsidies thathave already been made to the private schools by the government (eg land). There is alsoevidence (eg. The recent CAG report of private schools in Delhi) to suggest that accountsare manipulated to show low profits and wherein the private schools fail to adhere to theconditions under which the subsidizes have been made.At the same time, there is a multiplicity of small private schools whose fees are far belowthe figures quoted for government schools- largely through failing to pay appropriateteacher salaries and cutting down on infrastructure. Consequently, the fees chargeable byprivate schools vary drastically across the range.A senior official in the Elementary Education Bureau, MHRD, claims that there is no officialfigure available for the government’s annual per-child expenditure. At the headquarters ofthe Delhi Directorate of Education (DoE), an official, off the top of his head, gave a figure ofRs 700-800. A meeting with the Deputy Director, Planning Branch, Delhi DoE was morerevealing. He stated that firstly, the Delhi government was still in the process ofconstructing an estimate for the per-child expenditure, which had to be supplemented byinformation from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) Secondly, he said thegovernment is not comfortable declaring an estimate. It feels that private schools whoseexpenditure is less than the government’s (and the official claims there are many of them)will immediately hike their fees so as to get the benefit of reimbursement. The questionremains why the government is still dithering over this, as the problem they have cited isbound to crop up anyway.Previous estimates of costs incurred in government schools have also been prepared butvary drastically from State to State (with Bihar being towards the bottom end of thespectrum and Delhi being on the higher end). Consequently, the per school expenditure ingovernment schools varies drastically as well. A study on public financing of elementaryeducation by A.N. Reddy, NUEPA, (2008) reveals that the government’s annual per-childexpenditure in 2004-05 was Rs 2827. This figure has been arrived at by dividing the totalbudgeted expenditure on elementary education by the number of children enrolled ingovernment primary and upper primary schools. If a similar calculation is made with morerecent data, a rough estimate will be available. This would, however, be a simplisticmeasure since this would also include activities that cross-subsidize the private providersand does not actually restrict the figure to only delivery of services to the individual school.The point in the present argument is that reliable figures for reimbursement is yet to beworked out. A rational solution to the problem needs to be worked out at the earliest toensure that issues are not allowed to fester for much longer. 3. ConclusionFirstly, every provision entailed in the Act has to be thoroughly accounted for, andbudgetary allocation must be made accordingly. If the government is serious aboutachieving UEE in India, financial constraints can no longer be used as an excuse. The
  19. 19. accounting must also be done in a manner that permits flexibility according to the needs ofdifferent schools and children. Secondly, the fund flows must be monitored at every leveland the problems identified under SSA funding must be done away with, as discussed insection. Finally, resolution of issues such as reimbursement, on which there is no officialword yet, must not be delayed any longer.