Government must be held accountable, says RTE Forum

With the three-year timeline for the implementation of the norms of the Right to Education (RTE) Act expiring, the RTE Forum — a platform of national education networks, teachers’ unions and prominent educationists — said here on Sunday that serious concerns over the government’s inability to achieve the goal and regarding challenges about the fulfilment of the constitutional obligation still remain.

“This is not the first time that the deadline has been missed. The government made a commitment to achieve universal education as early as 1960. Since then various educational commissions have made similar promises and undertakings. The current deadline was a result of a commitment made by Parliament which has now also been broken. The government must be held accountable and made answerable for its lack of political will,” said RTE Forum’s national convener Ambarish Rai. “There is no road map either with the government, which can plan ahead in terms of meeting the RTE norms urgently.”

Though the government made efforts to achieve the RTE norms, significant shortcomings remain, specifically with regard to access, infrastructure, quality and lack of effective community participation, said the Forum. It also charged that that the School Management Committees (SMCs), an integral part of the RTE Act, were not democratically formed in many cases and were not functioning properly.

“There is an urgent need for the government to realise the urgency of the situation and the fact that millions of India’s children are waiting for them to live up to their commitment. The wave of privatisation of education is a dangerous trend for universalisation of education and for the constitutional right of children coming from marginalised section. Providing good quality elementary education is an obligation of the State and should be addressed urgently,” added Mr. Rai.

The RTE Forum will meet in the Capital on Wednesday for a ‘National Stocktaking Convention on RTE Implementation’.