Modus operandi may not have impact

Modus operandi may not have impact

"An ideal education system is not one that simply teaches people how to make a living. It is one that teaches them how to make a life.”

The Constitution (86th Amendment) Act, 2002 making elementary education a Fundamental Right and its consequential legislation, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, has come into force. Though the RTE Act has been proposed as an innovative and revolutionary thought, it remains so only in terms of the title and there are major concerns regarding its content and further execution. The objectives are laudable but the modus operandi of the government in implementing it may not yield the desired impact.

It is undoubtedly the sole responsibility of the government to not only provide free and compulsory education, but also provide quality education to every child in the age group 6-14 years (primary and middle school categories). The infrastructure as defined under the Act has specifications regarding the building, number of teachers and students in a class etc. It is a discernible datum that 85 per cent of the primary and middle schools are government schools; 15 per cent of the private schools which may be aided or unaided form the rest of the category. If the RTE Act was primarily executed in government schools and a paradigm shift was witnessed, the story would have definitely been an invigorating and exemplary model for private schools to emulate. But it isn’t so and since private schools are in focus the attention is diverted.

The Act is regulatory in nature, wherein the government has the power to control private institutions which at present are not regulated. If pragmatically observed, it seems as if the directives issued under the Act are exclusively for the private schools. In the contemporary scenario, it may be noted that many private schools have tried to bridge the gap and bring about a parity in parallel contours by endorsing educational initiatives that facilitate the holistic development of the disadvantaged as well as the privileged sections of the society.

 Parents today are no more in a position to take up home schooling and this will, indeed, impair and hamper the progress of any child who is in need of the same. Unfortunately, the lack of clarity in the effective execution of the RTE Act has curtailed the altruistic efforts of many NGOs who are dedicated towards the uplift of the needy in our neighbourhoods. Presently, it may also be professed that there is no independent regulatory authority to supervise and monitor the obligation of the government to provide free and compulsory quality education in government schools.

Not consulted

It is a recognised statistic that the substructure in government schools is deplorable. The poor infrastructure prevalent in government schools does not suffice the need of the hour. Relevant records have conspicuously highlighted the poor attendance in government schools. It is expected that the issue will only become worse with the responsibility being partaken by the private schools. An in-depth scrutiny will reveal that not even 10 per cent of the government schools fulfill the obligatory specifications and are fixed in the purpose of providing quality education.

The imposition of the RTE Act on private schools to arrange for state-of-the-art facilities for 25 per cent of the children who belong to the lower strata of the society is a source of concern as the government itself is creating a disparity among the underprivileged children as all will not get admission in the desired schools. The execution of the proposed plan will witness many children still routing to study in the government schools due to the limited opportunities that private schools could offer as the numbers are very less and beyond comparison. It is appalling to note that neither members of the school management were consulted nor suggestions of erudite thinkers, philosophers and recommendations by the Standing Committee of Parliament were incorporated. The universal reaction is that a charter of intent could have been prepared towards effective implementation of the Act instead of imposing upon private schools as an act of Parliament.   

The fact that ‘excellence in education’ has not been considered is quite disconcerting. There have been no instructions or efforts by the government on tackling the dearth of quality teachers. With the rapid yet unstructured course of action of the RTE Act, it is anticipated that many prospective teachers may consider other avenues of employment, thereby increasing the fissures in the previously existing deficient pool of eminent teacher resources. The absence of lucidity in the State government’s directives to the private schools will only result in a feeble and laissez-faire approach. Reliable statistics has revealed that more than 90 per cent children are going to school. If that is the case, what is the manner in which the RTE will make a difference!

No criteria

Another major apprehension is that there are no concrete criteria set by the government for the selection of students for enrolment in private institutions. It is a fact that there is no focus on preliminary assessment or structured format of grading to enroll students into private institutions at the entry levels.

The most probable and practical solution would be for the government to upgrade existing infrastructure in government schools and take private institutions into confidence in fulfilling its commitment of providing quality education to every eligible child. Private institutions have always played a pivotal role in building up individual and collective capacity, and in strengthening the cohesiveness of our nation beyond knowledge and skills.

The sheer blindfolded enactment of a law and enforcing it only on private institutions will not facilitate the true achievement of the government’s objective. The government must adopt a more comprehensive and practical approach rather than propagate its policies which lack direction and impose it tenaciously on private institutions, which is in bad taste. It will in fact create another ‘Inspector Raj’ where visionless policing will replace facilitation and evolution of our young children into sagacious prodigies with immense talent.

(The writer is General Secretary, Managements of Independent CBSE Schools Association-Karnataka and Member, Board of Management, Delhi Public School, Bangalore & Mysore.)

 

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