Speaker: RTE Act meant to serve pvt schools

Speaker: RTE Act meant to serve pvt schools

Speaker Ramesh Kumar

The Legislative Assembly witnessed heated exchange of words on Tuesday over falling standards of education in rural areas, with Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar dubbing the Right to Education (RTE) Act as “a law meant to serve the interests of only private schools.”

The issue spiralled after JD(S) leader A T Ramaswamy pointed out that a government junior college he visited recently recorded a dismal pass percentage of 46, whereas it was cent percent in a nearby private college. “Not a single student there was the son or daughter of a government official. Naturally, there’s no accountability and quality comes down. Why doesn’t the government shut its junior colleges instead,” he said.

This was followed by legislators across party lines criticising the government for having done little to improve quality of public education in rural areas. Chikkanayakanahalli legislator J C Madhu Swamy pointed out that the RTE Act was not helping children in rural areas.

Arsikere legislator K M Shivalinge Gowda said children in rural areas were enamoured with English education. “Some of them travel by bus 30 kms to study in an English school. How many English-medium government schools did the government start,” he sought to know.

The lack of kindergarten in government schools drove kids towards private schools, Hubli-Dharwad (West) MLA Arvind Bellad said. “I took the effort to start LKG and UKG sections in a village, because of which enrolment in government schools went up by 2,300,” he said.

Speaker Ramesh Kumar intervened and told Bellad, “Did any of us study in a convent? I didn’t study LKG or UKG. We created this hell and pushed people into it,” he said.

When former primary and secondary education minister Tanveer Sait tried to explain that the previous Congress government brought in a rule that teachers should serve in rural areas compulsorily, the Speaker said he was missing the point. “The question here is, is the RTE benefiting rural children? The answer is no. It’s serving the interests of private schools.”

When Sait tried to argue further and claimed that steps had been taken to strengthen government schools, Kumar said: “The more you dig the heap, the more the garbage comes out.”

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