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RTE: A step towards Edification and Development

Peoples Voice on August 7, 2017 - 5:09 pm in Education, Rights

Aishwarya Shetty

Abstract: Education plays an important role in the overall development of a person. It helps one to become a good citizen, which could, in turn, become an asset in modern democratic concept. Right to education has opened a whole new arena for transforming the society in which the voices of the less privileged lot was almost unheard in educational setup. RTE almost transformed the way pedagogical activity used to happen in a society riddled with institutionalized graded inequality in social and educational arena. It was also seen as a positive factor helping those underprivileged sections deprived of higher economic lottery of birth RTE which in adherence to Rawlsian principle of distributive justice was in fact just a translation from non enforceable part of the Indian Constitution to the fundamental rights section. But things can’t be categorized into white and black shades strictly and there has been shade of grey pertaining to RTE. This paper tries to analyse the various nuance aspect of RTE, taking help from empirical statistics obtained from schools in Mumbai.

The path towards that dignified goal, where people treat each other with respect and dignity, where reasoning becomes the new normal and where obscurantist attitudes are slammed behind exclusionist doors could be achieved only be travelling and exploring the fortress called education since the advent of modern education, especially in a country with a colonial past. The transition from traditional pedagogy oriented education system to an institution based result oriented system has been a paradigm shift. The shift has been even more drastic, comparing it with the concept that has today entered educational lexicon, i.e. private education where education is being commodified. As we move towards an information age, nations around the world are grappling with what the next transformation in education needs to look like while the current challenge in India remains the same 2oth century challenge where the role of the state as a welfare state exit to facilitate basic primary education to the children of its land.

One such step towards the journey ‘EDUCATION FOR ALL’ is the Right to education (RTE) that came to force in India in the year 2009.The present act can trace its history in the drafting of the Indian Constitution as the Article 45 of the Indian Constitution expects the state to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of the Constitution free and compulsory education to children until they complete the age of fourteen. Article 45 being a part of the directive principle did not actually create a pressure on the state as the Part IV of the Indian Constitution i.e. Directive Principles of our State Policy (DPSP) cannot be enforced by any court, but these principles are fundamental in the governance of the country and remains as the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws.

It can be said that the act entered the womb of legality in 2002, with the 86th amendment of the constitution adding article 21 A in the Indian Constitution making education a fundamental right, however this amendment specified the need for a legislation to describe the mode of implication of the same which necessitated drafting of a separate education bill. A rough draft of the bill was prepared in the year 2005 but it underwent considerable controversy due to mandatory provision to provide 25% reservation for disadvantaged children in private schools but the sub-committee of the central advisory board considered the provision as a significant prerequisite for creating a democratic and egalitarian society through education. Hence on 4th August 2009 RTE came to birth making India proud of joining the other 135 countries that made education a fundamental right. The act came into force from 1st April 2010 except in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Heart and pulse of RTE:

It makes provisions for non-admitted child to be admitted to an age appropriate class. RTE requires all private schools to reserve 25% of seat to children (as a part of the public – private partnership plan).Kids are admitted into private schools based on economic status or caste based reservation. It prohibits all unrecognized schools from practice and makes preventions for no donation or capitation fees and no interview of the child or parent for admission.

The act provides that no child shall be held back, expel or required to pass board examination until the completion of elementary education. The RTE act lays down norms and standard relating to pupil- teacher – ratio (number of children per teacher).It talks about basic infrastructure: class room, separate toilets for girls and boys, drinking water facility. It has clearly chocked out the number of school working days, working hours of teachers etc. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009 insists upon schools to constitute School Management Committees (SMCs) comprising local authority officials, parents, guardians and teachers. The SMCs shall form School Development Plans and monitor the utilization of government grants and the whole school environment.

RTE also mandates the inclusion of 50 per cent women and parents of children from disadvantaged groups in SMCs. Such community participation will be crucial to ensuring a child friendly “whole school” environment.

Fault line in the act:

The act has been criticized for being harshly drafted, not considering many groups advice in education. Infringing on rights of private and religious minority schools to administer their system s something which has always been on the critic list. It excludes children under 6 years of age. For continuing many of the ideas from the policies of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and world bank funded distinct primary education program (DPEP) as both of which, while setting up number of schools in rural areas have been criticized for being in effective and corruption ridden. Some analyst are of the view that with RTE instead of promotion of education and ensuring the full school enrollment –that situation has become more complex and administrative as the schools owner care more to deal with bureaucrats, who have the power to shut down the school, incase, school did not complete the requirement that are written in the RTE. In many areas, the tussle between school owner and bureaucracy has been going on and the education status is the prey of this competition. According to the national independent school alliance – nearly 5500 schools have been closed since the implementations of this law along with 15000 have been in the radar of bureaucracy. They also said that schools have to pay the inspectors for the smooth running because some requirement that they can’t fill including the requirement of bachelor of education for teaching the class six and student teachers ration 1:30, which they can’t implement.

The RTE provides free education only till the age of 14; many students because of financial crisis then have to leave their studies. Such occurrence may lead to hatred in the minds of those economically or socially backward towards the system that unknowingly supports the creamy population, hence leading them to indulge into many of the atrocious infringement that disturbs the society. A news article in THE HINDU sighted one such example of a Tamilian M. Kochadai Muthiah who earns his living by ironing clothes. Where his daughter was heading to grade 9 and he had to remove her from the school as the RTE benefits did not allow her to get free education anymore, leaving an adverse effect on the mind of that 14 years.

RTE Act mandates that no teacher should engage himself or herself in private tuition activity. The primary reason why teachers under perform in the classroom and then require their students to attend private tuitions is the want of additional income, unfettered by a loose monitoring and punitive system. Banning teachers from taking private tuitions does not do away with the cause of the problem. Even if private tuitions by teachers are successfully done away with, it still does not address the prevalence of teacher underperformance and absenteeism. Section 16 of the Act, provides that No child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education. While it is true that failing a child may well cause the child to intensely doubt his or her abilities, the Government fails to appreciate that failing a child also serves as a protective mechanism. The term “fail” has always worked as a deterrent for a child to study seriously and perform well. Failing, actually serves as a blessing in disguise for the students. Also, detaining the child in the same class ensures that the child learns the particular set of skills required for his/her development and hence is a more scientific approach. Promoting the child to the next class regardless of his performance in the previous class would also, in a way, be treating the less meritorious students at par with the ones who have worked hard and meritoriously achieved a place in the next level which is unfair to the good students.

With the right to education (RTE), came an exciting opportunity for the private unaided schools to get regulated and gain recognition in India.the zero percent apprehension behind the widening lacuna between “role of the private unaided sector in India is crucial for advocating EDUCATION FOR ALL” and “RTE providing opportunity to the state government to explore ways in which to assure even better quality from private unaided school”, we have our schools getting prey to the ever prevailing red-tapeism in our bureaucratic system indicating a clear fall in the education quality of the country, under covering a death of the Indian culture towards education and legalizing decay of the role of a teacher as the “guru” and student as a “shishya”. Hence this paper attempts to throw light on the unobserved share of the RTE answering them on the basis of documented statements and reports along with satisfying the customary favoured questions that have been synonyms to the RTE in metropolitan cities like Mumbai.

RTE and Mumbai:

The RTE laws bought the private schools under the banner of legality, made them uniformly follow the propaganda of Education for All. the idealistic theory of education for all seemed to be righteous on paper but this idealistic hunch really did not worked for the city schools under private ownership, who were forced to secure 25% of seats for the children who apply through RTE .In a country like India and especially the financial capital of India(the city of dreams: Mumbai) where bureaucracy and conduct of governance is the closest synonym for corruption the private administered and funded schools are coerced to undergo heavy financial losses as the reimbursement for the school fees in addition to books, uniforms never reached the schools except for twice or thrice since its implication. Incorporation to this loss the school management also has to digest that they are barred from admitting non – RTE student for the reserved seat even if they are vacant even after the yearly admissions are closed. In the 2017 – 18 admission with few students’ confirming admission there are close to 5,000 seats leftover at the entry level in 33 private schools in Mumbai which participated in the other admission process carried out by the Brihan Mumbai municipal corporation (BMC). The schools are upset at losing revenue. The education inspector of the BMC in one of his interview over this issue himself sighted that family target seats in popular city schools and do not accept admissions in other schools “A few popular schools received hundreds of applications while 34 schools did not have any takers.”

With the BMC taking away the right from the schools to cross check the documents that the guardian submits during the child’s admission, and not positively responding on cheating cases with regards to the legal papers added stories to the building of vexed relations between the school authorities and the government official and a not welcomed response to the RTE from the private side of the game.

There have been constant tussles between the private school owners and NGOs that run under the banner of child rights and children education, and so…

One such tussle sight it’s birth date this June As the BMC in January this year gave schools the independence to choose their own entry-level (Till last year, schools had to begin intake at their actual starting point, which was nursery or junior kindergarten in most cases.) most schools preferred grade 1 in the 2017-18 admissions as their entry level, as there is no provisions that Government would reimburse them for expenses incurred in pre-primary as it is an unregulated sector. While we have school authorities saying we are already loosing the revenue of 25% seats and NGOs protest this law saying the new rule will deprive children from economically weaker of pre-primary education. Sudhir Paranjape, activist from NGO Anudanit Shiksha Bachao Samiti. Argued “These kids cannot afford pre-schools on their own as they charge exorbitant fees. And, without early childhood education, their basics will not be strengthened and they are likely to lag in academics when they enrol in class 1.The argument that being a citizen, that private entity has the duty or moral obligation to support or help the lesser privilege and thus pass on the benefits which he had earlier claimed from the state to others and he fighting for his losses blaming the state for a corrupt bureaucracy somewhere down the line, kills the purity of the Act leading to commodification of education, giving birth to a class in class concept.

Class in class concept:

The course of my research helped me dig in a new attachment to the whole story of RTE and public-private partnership model (PPP model), it sums up like:
Though such laws and Act aim at bridging the social and cultural structure of India marked by oppressive hierarchies and division on the basis of caste, religion, economic, condition, somewhere down the line the difference still persist even within the newly setup model. The concept of class in class is something that is argued on that line. With RTE Act today it has become mandatory to reserve 25% seats in private run schools, for admissions to be filled by RTE. What one must remember here is that the larger no of students in such private run schools come from a particular socio-economic background, mostly from family of higher socio-economic backing. They share a set of value on understandings that are definitional to a particular elite group. Though the state through mandatory laws have tried to broader the ‘culture capital’ that high end private schools inculcate on their students, the smaller chunk who got admitted to these institutions mostly from less privileged background are usually left out. They then form a separate group of themselves where their separateness would be clearly visible. Though the state keeping in mind Rawlsian distributive justice view tried to broaden the base so that the shade of the super structure in future would be equally distributed, could hardly do anything in this regard. A visit to such private owned schools and a detail research in such institution speaks explicitly about such a schism. In a metropolitan city like Mumbai where clad division has many shades and hues such an issue needs to be seen importantly. The London university professor, Geeta. K said that RTE is actually putting the education back in India and this law pays importance to playgrounds and laboratories more than learning, she also said that this law actually takes apart the advancement from the education achievement.

Closure:

The mammoth decision of the government, that hit the private schools in 2009, has definitely helped the government create a poor centric image of self for its citizens and has undoubtedly made the backward class strong in its saying; but it ended up with some gaps for faulty omission as the law has drastically affected the economy of the private entities in order to fulfill the needs of RTE registered students in their schools or while tackling with the bureaucracy. It is a popular saying that “Education is both the means as well as the end to a better life”. Means, because it empowers an individual to earn his/her livelihood and the end because it increases one’s awareness on a range of issues. But unfortunately, in today’s modern day scenario, the subject of Education is actually used by our political leaders and legislators as the “means” for achieving the “end” common to them all. Political power. After all, it makes an integral part of their Election manifesto. Some of the provisions of the Act, although included with noble intentions, have given life to many blunders.

Acknowledgement:
• Politics Department, SIES college, Sion (West), Mumbai-400022
• Smt. V. D. Gardi High School Nahur, Mulund (West), Mumbai -400080

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