Implementation of RTE Act

January 12, 2018
1 year

What is the issue?

The sad state of affairs in the education system speaks for the lackadaisical implementation of provisions of the RTE Act.

What did the RTE Act provide for?

  • Article 21-A was inserted through the 86th Amendment to the Constitution brought in 2002.
  • This made free and compulsory education of children in the 6 to 14 age group in India a fundamental right.
  • This right was to be governed by law, as the state may determine.
  • Accordingly, the enforcing legislation for this came as the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act in 2010.
  • It establishes that the onus to ensure free and compulsory education lies on the state.
  • Even years after its enforcement there are concerns in implementation of its provisions and the overall school education system.

What are the concerns?

  • Liability - The State governments and Panchayats are tasked to ensure that each child is brought into the schooling system and “retained” for eight years.
  • However, the ‘compulsory’ and ‘state liability’ commitments of the Act fall short of being imbibed by the educational bureaucracy.
  • Dropouts - The problem now is more about dropouts than children who were never enrolled.
  • Sadly, tracking dropouts and mainstreaming them into age-appropriate classes have been subsumed into existing scheme activities and lacks special attention.
  • Out-of-school children, especially girls, disabled, orphans and those from single parent families are hard to reach.
  • It necessitates that the solutions are more localised and contextualised.
  • Pupil-teacher ratio -33% of the schools in the country do not have the requisite number of teachers, as prescribed in the RTE norms.
  • The percentage of schools that are pupil-teacher ratio (PTR)-compliant varies from 100% in Lakshadweep to 16.67% in Bihar.
  • States shy away from recruiting or posting more teachers keeping in mind higher salaries and finances.
  • Low Pupil-teacher ratio impacts other provisions including continuous assessment, child learning at her own pace and ‘no detention’ policy.
  • Decentralisation - As per the RTE provisions, the academic calendar will be decided by the local authority, which in most cases is the Panchayat.
  • This provision recognises the vast cultural and regional diversities within the country.
  • It facilitates scheduling the school working days considering the local festivals, sowing and harvesting seasons, and even natural calamities.
  • This would be conducive for exponentially increasing attendance and teaching-learning.
  • This would also strengthen local panchayats to take the responsibility of ensuring that their schools function on the prescribed instruction days.
  • But for inexplicable reasons, the educational bureaucracy has not allowed the decentralisation of academic schedules even in districts.

What is the way forward?

  • Strategies should focus more on ensuring retention of children than just enrolling the un-enrolled in schools.
  • Teacher provisioning is crucial for a sound schooling foundation and thus it needs the first priority in funding.
  • In States with an adequate overall number of teachers, their positioning or posting requires rationalisation according to the number of students.
  • More decentralisation of powers to the local bodies can adapt the education system to regional needs and support its enhancement.


Source: The Hindu

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