Even as private unaided school managements are having some anxious moments with the State government gearing up to implement the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009 from this academic year, confusion is rife owing to lack of clarity on many issues.
In an exclusive interview with The Hindu, Jose Aikara, chairman, Council for The Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE), New Delhi, said that some of the clauses in the Act were “unscientific” and the government must be sympathetic and practical while implementing the Act.
Excerpts from the interview.
Q: The general impression is that private unaided school managements are against the implementation of RTE and efforts are being made to postpone its implementation…
A: No. We are not against it. In fact, we appreciate the government's efforts to spread universal education. Our only worry is that this Act in its present form tramples upon the freedom of the managements. We have built our schools brick by brick.
In India, less than 10 per cent of the schools are managed by private parties. The presence may be micro, but their impact on society is tremendous. Everyone must recognise the contribution of private schools in improving the quality of education imparted and thereby in building a healthy society.
Then, why should the government deprive us of running our schools. Why should the [school] administration go to local authorities? The government, instead of trying to rein us in, must look at improving its own schools.
When you say you are not against RTE, are you willing to provide 25 per cent seats for poor students?
Yes. But, why should the government insist that these students must be accommodated with other students? We are willing to have separate classrooms for them. We are also willing to adopt government schools so that these students feel comfortable with their group. But, the moot point is who selects these students. Schools do not have any say in this aspect.
How do you think school managements will overcome problems, including the cost of educating a child from a poor background?
There are only two ways: by increasing the class strength and having a nominal fee structure or by increasing the fees and having a class strength of about 30 to 40.
Schools with good infrastructure may think of increasing the class strength. However, schools with limited resources and facilities have no other way but to increase the fees, because managements cannot run their schools at a loss. You also need finances to adopt new technologies.
Without adopting new technologies, it is not possible to improve the quality of education. And, if more students are accommodated in a classroom, it surely will affect the teaching-learning process. I think 30 is the ideal class strength so that teachers can give individual attention.
How long do you think it will take to implement this Act to the satisfaction of both the government and managements?
This Act in its present form is unscientific, and I think it will take about three to four years to implement it satisfactorily so that both are comfortable.