Bye bye for now in Karnataka

Bye bye for now in Karnataka

Confused and messy. These two words best describe the state of affairs in the Karnataka Government on implementing the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.

To begin with, Karnataka is more or less a loner in failing to notify rules to set the landmark legislation in motion. The State Cabinet approved the RTE draft rules on April 12, almost nine months after the legislation was supposed to have come into force here. Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri had gone to town that the law would be effective from July 5, 2011.

But little progress has been seen ever since though the draft rules underwent several revisions as objections and suggestions from the people and private schools were being incorporated. The Cabinet nod notwithstanding, the rules are still miles away from appearing in the government notification.

Kageri refuses to set a timeframe for notifying the rules, while G Kumar Naik, Secretary, Primary Education, insists the rules will be in place in about 10 days. Some more delay and the Act’s implementation will get tougher. The government will be faced with an “extremely difficult” task of making top rung unaided schools, which have flouted the timetable and completed admissions for the coming year, fall in line. Naik’s warning of derecognition of non-compliant schools may well remain just that.

Naik, however, argues that 25 per cent quota for poor students is only one aspect of the RTE Act, which covers a whole gamit of issues concerning quality education like pupil-teacher ratio, quality and qualification of teachers etc, which also need to be streamlined.  

Sharing of expenditure incurred on implementing RTE is another bone of contention.  Kageri has been lamenting the “shortage” of central funds. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), that has been tasked with implementing the RTE, says at least Rs 2,400 crore are needed. Though the Centre has fixed 65:35 ratio, the State Government insists the Centre must contribute 75 per cent. No agreement has been reached yet.

As things stand, full-fledged implementation of RTE may well get deferred to
academic season 2013-14 in Karnataka.

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