National Stocktaking Convention was organized by the Right to Education Forum on March 21, 2016 (Monday). The Vice President, Shri M. Hamid Ansari while addressing the gathering on a very pertinent issue said in the last six years, the Right to Education Act has shown promising developments. In spite of the known fact that government financing for education has been always insufficient but the Right to Education Act has shown ‘remarkable achievement’ despite its shortcomings. On 31 March 2016, India will mark six years of the Right to Education act.
As per the data received, in the last six years, the Right to Education Act has shown promising developments. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is the main vehicle for the Act’s implementation. Around 3.5 lakh schools have been opened in the last decade and 99% of India’s rural population now has a primary school within one-kilometer radius. 84.4% schools now serve the mid-day meals, 48.2% schools have proper and functioning toilets for girls and 73% schools have available drinking water. The enrollment of girls has increased slightly at the elementary level. For boys, the enrollment at primary level has increased. These are significant gains and losses.
Yet a critical appraisal of the functioning of the Right to Education act reveals that large gaps still exist in its implementation. Even with the increasing primary enrollment rates, India has the largest number of out-of-school children in the world. There is a huge disparity between the urban and rural education and rich and poor children have radically different schooling experiences.
Firstly, the quality of education suffers due to under-staffing and lack of training of teachers. The flow of public funds has so far been focused on developing school infrastructure. Teacher training has been a neglected area. We need many more good teachers and the only way to do that is to make the remuneration more attractive, recruit better teachers, provide them with better training and monitor their performance and availability closely.
Secondly, the next major challenge is the high number of drop-outs and out-of-school children. The third issue relates to the absence of equity in education. It is said that quantity, quality and equality are the three sides of the triangle required to ensure Right to Education. Without any one of these arms, the triangle will collapse.
Vice President Hamid Ansari advocated special audit mechanisms for effective implementation of Right To Education (RTE) Act like in the case of MNREGA and asked states and local education authorities to monitor implementation of the Act ‘more seriously’.
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