Issues

Govt is shirking responsibility, say activists

Much is being made of one clause in the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2010, that reserves 25 per cent seats in schools to children from disadvantaged sections. Several academics, however, feel that the core issue is that the RTE missed a big opportunity to strengthen the public education system and put in place a common school system.

The implications of this become apparent when we see that the total number of privately-owned schools constitute a mere 7 per cent of the total number schools in the country.

Starting with the Kothari Commission (1964-66) several policy documents have recommended a common school system that abolishes segregation and provides access to schooling of comparable standards in the neighbourhood, points out Niranjan Aradhya of Centre for Child and Law at the National Law School of India University. This ideal is nowhere reflected in RTE, he adds.

In February this year, over 15,000 teachers and activists under the banner of All India Forum for Right to Education (AIF-RTE) held a protest in Delhi, demanding that the “farcical” Act be replaced with one rooted in a fully public-funded common school system in neighbourhoods.

In a memorandum submitted to the President, AIF-RTE said that the Act “aims at demolishing the government school system under the pretext of providing free education to the weaker sections on 25 per cent of the seats in private schools.” It further says the provision legitimises “the free market policy of school vouchers and Public Private Partnership.”

Interestingly, the euphoria over RTE is not reflected in the allocation of the Union budget. Though the total allocation for education rose from Rs. 26,800 crore in 2009-10 to Rs 31,036 crore in 2010-11, the total outlay is no more than 3.6 per cent of the GDP, as against the recommendation of the Kothari Commission for 6 per cent.


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Printable version | Jun 21, 2021 2:56:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/education/issues/Govt-is-shirking-responsibility-say-activists/article16117804.ece

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