The Right to Education Act and the Supreme Court ruling upholding it are indeed commendable (“Beyond the Right to Education lies a school of hard knocks,” April 17). The Act seems to be an indirect acceptance by the government that private schools alone can provide quality education. The Centre or the State governments have shown no inclination to improve teaching and infrastructure facilities in government-run primary schools where students learn the basics of reading and writing. One wonders why most students who enter premier institutions are from leading private schools.
Now that the Right to Education Act has been upheld by the Supreme Court, there is a debate on the reservation of 25 per cent of seats for underprivileged children in private, unaided, non-minority schools. Given that a very small percentage of school education is provided by the private sector, one wonders how useful the reservation will be in imparting quality education.
The reservation formula should be considered only one of the many requirements in making school education meaningful. The responsibility of the state is crucial in achieving the goals of the Act, as most schools come under it. As long as problems such as the lack of infrastructure, and lack of proper sanitation are not addressed, no law can help revamp school education in India.
The opening up of private schools to the poor is no doubt welcome. But with many private schools mushrooming by the day, the standard of education is on the decline. They are concerned mainly with profits. Who will cater to the needs of children in remote areas?
The 25 per cent reservation is laudable. The sad fact is: the remaining 75 per cent of underprivileged children will have to attend the same government schools. It seems the state wants to shift its “responsibility” to private schools. It is the state's duty to provide free, quality education to every child. Why doesn't the government take steps to improve its own school infrastructure? Why doesn't it recruit good teachers? The mere sharing of school fees will not automatically make the poor children comfortable among their elite classmates in private schools. There are other expenses. The private schools we are talking about are located in urban pockets. But the vast majority of children live in villages.