A year on, a long way to go on RTE, says HRD report
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The Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry's first report card on the nationwide implementation of the Right to Education Act shows that while small steps have been taken across states, there is still a long way to go.
The RTE came into effect on April 1, 2010, and promises free and compulsory education to all children aged 6 to 14 years. Step one towards implementation requires each state to notify RTE rules. But while only 10 states have done it over one year, 15 states have only managed to prepare drafts rules.
A mere 11 states have set up the State Commission for Child Protection Rights (SCPCR), which will operate as the grievance redressal authority in each state.
According to 2009-10 data compiled by the Ministry, total enrolment at the primary level is 133 million. But there are still 8 million children out of schools between 6 and 14 years — the target age group.
Twenty-one per cent teachers do not have professional qualifications, 9 per cent schools have single teachers and 41 per cent primary schools have a pupil-teacher ratio of over 40:1.
While these factors obviously require attention, state governments have been more active on other counts.
Sample this: as many as 27 states have announced a no-detention policy in keeping with RTE provisions, another 28 states have banned corporal punishment and in 26 states, there will be no board examination up to elementary level.
As many as 18 states have banned private tuitions and another 18 have banned screening procedures and capitation fee for admissions.
Bringing in greater accountability and better work ethics for teachers, 21 states have specified minimum working days and teaching hours.
Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal has expressed optimism about the way RTE is being implemented and pointed to the increasing literacy figures thrown up in the latest Census.
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