The RTE Act Saga: Sibal claims the act to work as a role model for the world

Published On: 23 Apr 2012

 | Last Updated On: 23 Apr 2012

The Supreme Court’s verdict to reserve 25% seats for poor students in all schools has pulled everyone’s attention towards education sector. The provisions of the Act received a mixed bag of reactions from the public.

Though, the private educational institutes are responsible for implementing the Act, major responsibility for making the basic education global lies with the state government. Through the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, government aims at globalizing admission and retention, bridging social category and gender gaps during admissions and upgrading the quality of basic education.

The provisions given in the RTE Act related to the private schools do not indicate that Central and state governments have been released from their key responsibility of providing facilities and infrastructure and a facilitating environment to achieve the objectives of the Act. Over 90% of the families in India will have to continue to admit their wards in government schools despite of the implementation of 25% seat reservation in Class I/preschool in private schools every year.

Advantages of RTE Act:

The provision of RTE Act to provide admission to 25% children from weaker sections and disadvantaged groups in non minority (private unaided) schools is an initiative aimed at social integration. The RTE Act will facilitate schools to bring students from diverse background so that each student adds something new and different to the schools, which in turn will enhance the learning environment at schools.

Implementation of RTE Act will transform the private schools. Admission of children from different background will lead the school to have a diverse population across all classes in a span of time. This will give children an opportunity to grow and learn together which will create bonds. These bonds will bring social integration. Unprivileged children coming from adverse living conditions can share their experience of striving with life with well-off children. Thus, mixing up of children from different backgrounds may transform the character of schools in numerous positive ways.

It may be that initially, some unprivileged children may face problem in managing the syllabus, particularly if they are the first generation to go to the schools. But many poor children have proved that if given a chance, they perform better than other children. Even the figures show that majorly children from relatively poor families secure admission to IITs. Infact, children from disadvantaged families have proved their excellence in almost every field be it education or sports.

Schools can develop their infrastructure during the long gestation period given in the Act to ensure the academic quality extended to the students. Though it is a challenging task but it is feasible.

Several schools showing their concern over financial issues can be genuine in many cases. However, the expenses borne on each child by many private schools particularly in remote areas is less than that of government schools. Thus the cost reimbursed by the government would be sufficient to meet the expenses of educating poor children in such schools. But state government should make efforts to implement a transparent an open system preferably through internet for reimbursement in a given time span and efficiently.

However, in metros the cost of educating per child is comparatively higher than the state schools. These schools   need to explore innovative methods to bridge the gap. Such schools can seek funds from charitable trusts, philanthropic individuals and corporates.

There are some other positive provisions in the Act which needs to be highlighted properly. It’s been a long time parents have suffered the unethical and non transparent practices of some private schools during admissions. The implementation of RTE act with the help of an attentive civil society can put an end to this. Education in anyways cannot be commercialized. A transparent and an open education system will benefit the society.

Some people have also expressed concern that RTE may bring increased number of inspections and harassment by enthusiastic education authorities. Sibal claimed that RTE is in the interest people to develop a friendly environment for authentic charitable institutes and individuals to establish quality schools. There should be no psychological and financial barriers while imparting admission to schools to the unprivileged children. RTE Act aims at removing such barriers.

Apprehensions about RTE Act:

Many teachers and schools have also expressed apprehensions about some provisions of the act to which Sibal clarified that:

The first apprehension is about the RTE provision which prohibits mental harassment or corporal punishment. Sibal stated that many people feel that only fear and punishment can make a child disciplined. But experts across the globe have clarified that physical punishment gives rise to mental trauma; they may result in making a child even more rebellious. 

Another misgiving is related to the detention provision. The reason behind implementation of the provision is to prevent students from repeating a class as it demotivates them. The implementation of detention provision does not imply that a child’s learning will not be assessed. RTE aims at introducing a continuous and comprehensive evaluation system which is frees students from the fear of failure, is non-threatening and helps teachers to give individual attention to each student.

Sibal clarified that schools should attempt to create such an environment in school, which enhances child’s over all. He further mentioned that the major focus of the state governments should be to strengthen government schools where the budget allocated by the central government under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan have increased more than twice in last 3 years. The state and central budget for basic education should continue to rise up and this will turn enable for higher reimbursements to private schools for educating weaker section children.

The RTE Act also directs the states and private school authorities to standards and policies are followed. The government schools need to improve radically to fulfill these provisions. Similarly, private schools that do not abide by these standards will have to improve.

The RTE gives us an opportunity to bridge caste, gender, community and class barriers that are posing threat to the social framework of our democracy and develop gaps that could ruin our country. The objectives and scope of RTE Act are visionary and if implemented in a right manner by the school managements, government authorities and other stakeholders could become a role model for the world to follow.

Source: Times of India

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