UNIVERSALELEMENTARYEDUCATION REFORMS FOR UPLIFTMENT OF THE WEAKER SECTIONS OF INDIA An Educated India is A Progressing India Education for All
Ever since Independence, India hasundertaken several initiatives to achieveuniversalization of elementary education,which has yielded mixed results.The Right to Education legislation in India hasseen a chequered history in evolving from adirective principle to a fundamental right. In1950, the constitution articulated itscommitment to education through its directive 2principle of State policy.
Universal Elementary Education• The role of Universal Elementary Education (UEE) for strengthening the social fabric of democracy through provision of equal opportunities to all has been accepted since the inception of our Republic.• The original Article 45 in the Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution mandated the State to endeavour to provide free and compulsory education to all children up to age fourteen in a period of ten years.
• In 2002, the 86th constitutional amendment was followed by rounds of discussions(tabling of right for free and compulsory education bills by the NDA and the UPA governments), which made education a fundamental right for children in the age group of 6 – 14 tears.• The Act was introduced in Rajya Sabha in December 2008. It was passed in the Lok Sabha on 4th August 2009 and the president gave his assent to it on 26 August 2009.The Act came into force on 1 April 2010 4 as a fundamental right.
The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan had been set with specific targets. These are:• All children in school, Education Guarantee Centre, Alternate School or Back-to-School camp by 2005.• All children complete five years of primary schooling by 2009.• Children complete eight years of elementary schooling by 2012.• Focus on elementary education of satisfactory quality with emphasis on education for life.• Bridge all gender and social category gaps at the primary stage by 2009 and at the elementary education level by 7 2012.• Universal retention by 2012.
• Though the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan [SSA] is being administered through government and govt. aided schools,• some private unaided schools are also actively involved in contributing towards universal elementary education.• The govt. entered into an agreement with the World Bank for assistance to the tune of US $ 600 million to fund the second phase 9 of the S S A.
To promote literacy among its citizens, theGovernment of India has launched severalschemes such as• the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Scheme,• Mid-day Meal Scheme and• the National Program for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL). 10
“Right to Education Act is indeed a landmark law.It marks a historic moment for our country, wherean estimated eight million children aged between6 and 14 do not currently attend school. However,the RTE Act is more about Right to Schooling thanthe Right to Education. It focuses heavily oninputs whereas learning outcomes have not beenaddressed. It is unlikely to improve masseducation because there is no focus on quality.” 12Arun Kapur, Director Vasant Valley School
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights• The act also provides that, no child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until completion of elementary education.• Provision for special training of school drop-outs to bring them at- par with the students of the same age.• Right to Education of Person with Disabilities till 18 years of age has been made a Fundamental Right.• The act provides for establishment of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and State Commissions for supervising of proper implementation of the act, looking after the complaints 18 and protection of Child Rights.
IMPLEMENTATION OF RTE EEGULATIONSSuccessful implementation of the RTE actpassed by the central government requires keysteps to be undertaken by state governments.States are required to notify specific rules forcarrying out the provisions of the Act. They arealso required to constitute a State Commissionfor the Protection of Child Rights and notify astate academic authority to frame and monitor 19the curriculum.
Recently the Centre is seriously exploring ways tobring pre-school education under Right toEducation Act to provide free and compulsoryeducation to children between the age group of 20four and six.
The Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002,inserted Article 21-A in the Constitution of India to providefree and compulsory education of all children in the agegroup of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right insuch a manner as the State may, by law, determine. TheRight of Children to Free and Compulsory Education(RCFCE) Act, 2009, which represents the consequentiallegislation envisaged under Article 21-A, means that everychild has a right to full time elementary education ofsatisfactory and equitable quality in a formal school 22which satisfies certain essential norms and standards.
Major Highlights of the ActThe Act makes education a fundamental right ofevery child between the ages of 6 and 14.• It requires all private schools to reserve 25% of seats to children from poor families (to be reimbursed by the state as part of the public- private partnership plan).• It also prohibits all unrecognized schools from practice, and makes provisions for no donation 23 or capitation fees and no interview of the child or parent for admission.
• The Act also provides that no child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until the completion of elementary education.• There is also a provision for special training of school drop-outs to bring them up to par with students of the same age. The Right to Education of persons with disabilities until 18 years of age has also been made a fundamental right.• A number of other provisions regarding improvement of school infrastructure, teacher- student ratio and faculty are made in the Act. 24
• Monitoring and Implementation of the act should be done by the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, an autonomous body together with Commissions to be set up by the states.• Schools excluded from RTE under special category : Kendriya Vidyalaya, Navodaya Vidyalaya, Sainik School and Madrasas (protected under Article 29 and 30 of the 25 Constitution)
SC backs Right to EducationThe apex court upheld at least 25% students from socially and economicallythe constitutional validity backward families. Theseof the Act and directed students will be guaranteed free educationall schools, including from class I till they reachprivately-run schools, the age of 14.irrespective of the boardthey are affiliated to, toadmit from thisacademic year (2012- 2713)
SC Bench said: “To put an obligation on the unaided non-minorityschool to admit 25 per cent children in class I under Section 12(1) (c)cannot be termed as an unreasonable restriction. Such a law cannotbe said to transgress any constitutional limitation. The object of the2009 Act is to remove the barriers faced by a child who seeksadmission to class I and not to restrict the freedom under Article 19(1)(g).“From the scheme of Article 21A and the 2009 Act, it is clear thatthe primary obligation is of the State to provide for free andcompulsory education to children between the age of 6 and 14 yearsand, particularly, to children who are likely to be prevented frompursuing and completing the elementary education due to 28inability to afford fees or charges.”
The SC judgment said: “We hold that the Right ofChildren to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 isconstitutionally valid and shall apply to a schoolestablished, owned or controlled by the appropriateGovernment or a local authority; an aided schoolincluding aided minority school(s) receiving aid or grantsto meet whole or part of its expenses from theappropriate Government or the local authority; a schoolbelonging to specified category; and an unaided non-minority school not receiving any kind of aid or grants to 29meet its expenses from the appropriate Government orthe local authority.”
The 86th constitutional amendment (2002),And the RTE Act (2009), have given us thetools to provide quality education to all ourchildren. It is now imperative that we thepeople of India join hands to ensure theimplementation of this law in its truespirit. The Government is committed tothis task though real change will happenthrough collective action. 30
With this, India has moved forward to a rightsbased framework that casts a legal obligation onthe Central and State Governments toimplement this fundamental child right asenshrined in the Article 21A of the Constitution,in accordance with the provisions of the RTEAct.Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is implementedas India‟s main programme for universalisingelementary education. Its overall goals includeuniversal access and retention, bridging ofgender and social category gaps in educationand enhancement of learning levels of children. 31
Both the Central and state governments are responsiblefor ensuring effective implementation of the Act. There hasbeen significant improvement in terms of the number ofprimary schools, largely due to additional resources madeavailable through the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan to bridgeexisting gaps. The scheme is now being extended to thesecondary school level as well.In addition to the Government‟s initiative, the privatesector has also played a role in improving the state ofeducation in the country and continues to do so. 32
Since RTE Act came into force,• 50,672 new schools,• 4.98 lakh additional classrooms,• 6.31 lakh teachers, etc• have been sanctioned to States and UTs under S S A. The fund sharing pattern between the Central and State Governments has also been revised to a sharing ratio which is more favourable to States Governments. 33
Reservation of 25% seats in privateschools for children from poorfamilies • The principle behind 25%• The school may be there but students may not reservation is to promote social integration. attend, or drop out after a few months. A school is a perfect setting• Through school & social where existing inequalities mapping, many issues in society can be bridged need to be addressed if the school encourages that prevent a weak child students to integrate from completing the process of education. psychologically, emotionally and academically. 36
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education(RTE) Act, 2009 has come into force with effect from April1, 2010. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) Framework ofImplementation and norms for interventions have beenrevised to correspond with the provisions of the RTE Act.This includes• interventions, inter alia for opening new primary and upper primary schools as per the neighbourhood norms notified by State Governments in the RTE Rules, 37
• support for residential schools for children in areas which are sparsely populated, or hilly or densely forested with difficult terrain, and for urban deprived homeless and street children in difficult circumstances,• special training for admission of out-of-school children in age appropriate classes, additional teachers as per norms specified in the RTE Act,• two sets of uniforms for all girls, and children belonging to SC/ST/BPL families,• strengthening of academic support through block and 38 cluster resource centres, schools, etc.
The RTE Act mandates the following timeframe for implementation of its provisions:Activity TimeframeEstablishment of neighbourhood 3 years (by 31st March, 2013)schoolsProvision of school infrastructure All weather school buildings One-classroom-one-teacher Head Teacher-cum-Office room Library 3 years (by 31st March, 2013) Toilets, drinking water Barrier free access Playground, fencing, boundary wallsProvision of teachers as per prescribed 3 years (by 31st March, 2013)Pupil Teacher RatioTraining of untrained teachers 5 years (by 31st March 2015) 39Quality interventions and other With immediate effectprovisions
Implementation of RIGHT TO EDUCATION ACTprovides for all children the benefit of free and compulsory• admission,• attendance and• completionof elementary education. 40
In India, since we gained freedom of self governance,• Undoubtedly, much progress has occurred since the last sixty years of our independence and• many more children with a diverse background are accessing school.• Yet.... 41
Dropped out, child labourers• There are ‘invisible’ children_ children bonded to work with an employer,• young boys grazing cattle or working in a dhabha• girls working in the fields or as domestic help or caring for younger siblings, and• children being subjected to early marriage. Many of these children are formally enrolled in a school but 43 have either dropped out or have never been there.
Extremely vulnerable ones• Many others such as migrant and street children, who live in extremely vulnerable conditions; denying them education is against the universal nature of human rights. 44
Enrol, attend, learn, and Be empowered by education• Providing universal access itself is no longer enough; making available school facility is essential but not sufficient.• A monitoring mechanism is needed to ensure that all children attend school regularly and participate in the learning process. 45
Not attending, drop-out in a few months?• Focus must be on the factors that prevent children from regularly attending & completing elementary education. Children from• weaker sections and• disadvantaged groups, as also• girls.• SOCIAL,CULTURAL,ECONOMIC, LINGUISTIC AND PEDAGOGIC ISSUES 46
Good education is empowering• विद्याविधिविहीनेन क िं ु ऱीनेन दे हहनाम ् । अ ु ऱीनोऽवि विद्याढ्यो दै ितैरवि िन्दद्यते ॥• Of what use is nobility of family if a person is illiterate?• A learned man is respected by Gods too though he does not belong to a noble family. 47
Free, compulsory and of high quality• The right to education is free, compulsory and it includes good quality education for all.• A curriculum not only provides good reading and understanding of text books but also includes learning through activities, exploration and discovery.• Comprehension, competence, competitiveness and creativity should be developed, not forgetting compassion. 48
Education Depts of State & Union Governments have direct responsibilityTo provide• schools,• infrastructure,• trained teachers,• curriculum and• teaching-learning material, and• mid-day meal.A well coordinated mechanism is needed forinter- sectoral collaboration & convergence. 49
On the part of the whole Govts:• The factors that contribute to the achievement of the overall goal of universalizing elementary education as a fundamental right requires action on the part of the whole Governments. A well coordinated mechanism is needed for inter- sectoral collaboration & convergence. 50
Timely & appropriate financialallocations, redesign school spaces• The Finance Department to release funds at all levels.• The Public Works Dept. to re-conceive and redesign school spaces from the pedagogic perspective & Address issues of including disabled children through barrier free access. 51
Provide Social & Location Mapping ofschools, Water & sanitation facilities• The Dept. of Science & Technology to provide geo-spatial technology to perform at grass-root survey.• Provision of access to sufficient safe drinking water• Provision and access to adequate sanitation facilities, specially for girl child. 52
ROLE OF CIVIL SOCEITY in RTE• Above all, people‟s groups, civil society organizations & voluntary agencies will play an crucial role in the implementation of the RTE Act.• This will help build a new perspective on inclusiveness, encompassing gender & social inclusion, & ensure that these become integral & crosscutting concerns informing different aspects like training, curriculum and classroom transaction. 53
ROLE OF CIVIL SOCEITY• A VIBRANT CIVIL SOCEITY MOVEMENT CAN ENSURE THAT• THE PARENT / CHILD FROM WEAKER OR DISADVANTAGED SECTIONS BECOME AWARE OF• THE VALUE OF EXERCISING THE RIGHT TO ELEMENTARY EDUCATION AND• PUT IN SERIOUS EFFORTS ON THEIR PART.• NGO contribution of knowledge, ideas and 54 solutions to the challenges are needed.
Good teacher‟s company enables.• यः िठतत लऱखतत िश्यतत िररिच्छती िण्डितान ् ृ उिाश्रयवि । तस्य हदिा रक रणैः नलऱनी दऱिं इि विस्ताररता बुवधः ॥• One who reads, writes, sees, inquires, lives in the company of learned men, his intellect expands like the lotus leaf does because of the rays of sun. 55
► A key issue being raised against theprovisions of the RTE Act is the absenceof provisions for improving the job conditions ofteachers. This leads to limited availability ofquality teachers in rural or inaccessible areas.► According to analysts, teacher training is oneof the biggest requirements of thecurrent system and has been neglected by theAct. 60
Since the Government has finite resources,reimbursing expenses to private schools willbe at the expense of government schools.Therefore, it should be made voluntary forprivate schools reserve seats for children fromdisadvantaged sections of society. It is unfairto make this applicable for all private schools.“The whole idea of reimbursement ofexpenses to private schools is a case of pooreconomics. If the government is unable tomeet the expenses from where will itgenerate additional resources to reimbursethe private schools”. 67Prof. Praveen Jha, JNU
The National Council for Teacher Education has laiddown the minimum qualifications for teachers in schoolsin 2001 on the basis of the National Council for TeacherEducation Act and the RTE Act, according to whichteachers appointed by the government or employingauthority should be trained and have minimumqualifications for different levels of school education.Within the five year period, all teachers need to acquirethe academic and professional qualifications prescribedby the academic authority under the RTE Act. This is a 74difficult task.
„Free education‟ means that no child, otherthan a child who has been admitted by hisor her parents to a school which is notsupported by the appropriate Government,shall be liable to pay any kind of fee orcharges or expenses which may preventhim or her from pursuing and completingelementary education. 78
• .„Compulsory education‟ casts an obligation on the appropriate Government and local authorities to provide and ensure admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by all children in the 6-14 age group.• With this, India has moved forward to a rights based framework that casts a legal obligation on the Governments to implement this right. 79
The new law provides a justiciable legalframework that entitles all children between theages of 6-14 years free and compulsoryadmission, attendance and completion ofelementary education. It provides for children‟sright to an education of equitable quality, basedon principles of equity and non-discrimination.Most importantly, it provides for children‟s right toan education that is free from fear, stress and 80anxiety.
The Rights perspective under the RTE Act has alsobrought in new monitoring mechanisms to ensure thatchild rights under the Act are protected. The RTE Actprovides for constitutionally created independent bodieslike the National and State Commissions for Protectionof Child Rights to perform this role. These bodies, withquasi-judicial powers bring in an element of monitoringnew to the implementation of SSA, requiring thatinternal monitoring mechanisms under the SSA engagepurposefully with these independent bodies. 81
The RTE provides a legally enforceable rightsframework with certain unambiguous time targets thatGovernments must adhere to. For example, the Actmandates that every child in the six to fourteen agegroup shall have a right to free and compulsoryeducation in a neighbourhood school. The Act alsoprovides that if a school does not exist in an area orlimit prescribed as the neighbourhood, the appropriateGovernment and the local authority shall establish aschool in this area within a period of three years. 83
The revised S S A Framework for Implementation isderived from the recommendations of the Committee onImplementation of RTE Act and the Resultant Revamp ofS S A, and is intended to demonstrate the harmonizationof S S A with the RTE Act. It is also based on child centricassumptions emerging from the National Policy onEducation, 1986/92 and the National CurriculumFramework (NCF), 2005. The revised S S A Frameworkof Implementation provides a broad outline of approachesand implementation strategies, within which States can 84frame more detailed guidelines keeping in view theirspecific social, economic and institutional contexts.