Niti Aayog calls for review of RTE Act

Niti Aayog has pointed out that the policy of not detaining children till grade 8 takes away the pressure to learn and compete.  

The Niti Aayog has called for a review of the provisions of the Right To Education Act that stipulate that children who don’t perform well cannot be held back up to class VIII. It said the good intention behind the norm is detrimental to the learning process.

It has also suggested a system where direct benefit transfers offer the poor a choice between subsidised purchases or equivalent cash to buy their requirements from private suppliers.

Detrimental effect

The Right To Education (RTE) Act, which aims to provide primary education to all children aged 6-14 years, stipulates that no child can be held back in a grade, regardless of his performance, all the way up to the eight grade. This means that a child is entitled to an eighth grade diploma even if he cannot recognise a single letter or a number if he has spent eight years in school.

The Aayog pointed out that the purpose behind this provision is to minimise the drop-out rate, since demoralisation resulting from failing a class leads to children withdrawing from school altogether. “But despite this good intention, the provision has a detrimental effect on learning outcomes, since it takes away the pressure to learn and to compete,” it said in its review of the 12th Five Year Plan.

According to Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014, one of the largest non-governmental household survey, the proportion of children aged 6-14 years enrolled in school in rural areas has been above 96 per cent for the past six years.

The real problem, the Aayog said, is the quality of education as measurement by student achievements. The ASER report finds that more than 50 per cent of the fifth graders cannot read second standard level text.

“Even more disconcerting, the trend between 2010 and 2014 has been worsening instead of improving performance,” it said.

Ghost ration cards

The Aayog pointed out that the Public Distribution System suffers from substantial leakages and there is an urgent need to look into avenues to eliminate them.

“Aadhaar platform is one such avenue. It can eliminate multiple ration cards held by the same household and also weed out ghost ration cards,” it said. “In the longer run, an even more effective instrument would be to give households the option to choose between subsidised purchases and equivalent cash,” it recommended. Such an approach will give the beneficiaries the option to buy their grain from private shops, thereby putting competitive pressure on public distribution shops.

“A key element in the success of this approach, however, is to ensure access to banking. Beneficiaries receiving cash transfers into their bank accounts have to be able to withdraw that cash to effectively use it,” it said.

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Printable version | Mar 2, 2021 11:22:27 AM |

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