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Activists blame govt, schools for poor RTE implementation

Bangalore, May 28, 2013, DHNS : 2:57 IST
Student and child rights activists banded together at the Legislator’s Home on Tuesday, to demand that the government take a more active role in implementing the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

Coming together at a symposium on RTE implementation, the activists also flayed private schools for misusing several clauses of the Act to their benefit.

The activists also demanded that the government evolve more stringent mechanisms to monitor private schools, several of which have been fleecing parents by charging exorbitant fees and refusing to implement RTE.

The State secretary of the Karnataka Dalit Sangharsha Samithi (DSS), Mavalli Shankar, who took part in the meet, observed that private schools have been mushrooming like corporate houses in the State.

“We need the participation of the people in raising our voices against this system of education. While the government schools are beginning to shut down, more private schools are emerging. A common school system must be set up and the numerous boards of education must be abolished,” he said.

‘Private schools favoured’

Many activists were alarmed that the government seems to favour private schools.
“If one takes a look at the education department circulars over the last few months, all are in favour of private schools. Out of 45 circulars on the RTE, more than 40 are related to the reservation provision.

Not much has been said about implementation of the other aspects of RTE at all,” said Kumar Sringeri, Assistant Project Coordinator, Centre for Child and the Law at National Law School of India University.

Sringeri also pointed out that community mobilisation is not possible only through School Development Monitoring Committees (SDMC). The training given to SDMC members is very poor.

Hence, one does not see good participation of members in SDMC meetings. Parents, who are asked to be part of these meetings, cannot take part in it most times as they cannot afford to forego their day's wages,” he said.

Palakshaiah, the former deputy director of public instructions and consultant to the department of Public Instruction, felt that the RTE Act was well designed, but problems are arising due to school administrators misusing its provisions.

While RTE reservation was meant to help students from economically weaker families, many private schools have attempted to circumvent the spirit of the Act by charging fees for sports, uniform, shoes and other extra curricular activities within the school.

“In this way, private schools are defeating the purpose of the Act,” Palakshaiah said. The best way to tackle this is to strengthen government schools to a point where people will choose them over private institutions, he added.

Passing the buck

Manjunath, a member of the Primary School Teachers' Association criticised the government for trying to pass the buck on parents by asking them to register complaints in case a school did not comply with the norms.

“The government itself should see to it that the schools abide by the laws,”he said. “Not everybody might be in a position to approach government offices and file complaints.”

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