Ridiculing the Right to Education
Er. Prabhat Kishore
The “Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009” has been implemented since 1st April 2010 with the objective of ensuring quality education to all children in the country.
In the light of the provision of the Act, rules and regulations were promulgated by the State Governments regarding grant of approval to private schools and minimum criteria and conditions were prescribed for all schools.
Within six months of the implementation of the rules, all private schools had to submit self-declaration, before a three-member district committee, regarding compliance of the standards and norms mentioned in the Act and fulfillment of the conditions.
The norms fixed includes school to be operated through a legitimate society/trust, not to be operated for the benefit of any individual or group, to work in accordance with the values enshrined in the constitution, to use the building/structure/ground etc. only for education and skill development.
There are some minimum standards, norms and conditions for schools in the law, such as one class room per teacher, drinking water facility, toilet, playground, kitchen, barrier free elements, boundary wall, provision of teachers on the basis of number of students, prescribed minimum qualification in the employment of teachers, enrollment of children from disadvantaged and weaker sections on at least 25 percent seats in first and early childhood classes, enrollment of children in age-relative classes and special training to make them skilled, relevant courses by educational authority, teaching in mother tongue, neither any test nor donation for admission etc. Commission for Protection of Child Rights has been constituted at national as well as state level.
The concerned district committee had to do site inspection within three months and give approval in case the schools met the standards and norms and in case of non-compliance, three years’ time was to be given to complete them. Some private schools in the states openly challenged the government’s regulations and called it interference in the autonomy of the school.
The Provision and fulfillment of the standards and norms cannot be termed government interference. In fact, according to the law, the standards, norms and conditions set for the school are not in the capacity of 90 percent of the private schools. They neither have adequate physical infrastructure nor teachers with prescribed qualifications. Each school has its own cumbersome and irrelevant curriculum and ropey English has been forcibly imposed on children in lieu of mother tongue. The admission test of children for enrollment is going on fearlessly. They are finding themselves naked in the mirror of the law. For them education is just a business and school is a shop. How then can they declare that their school is not a non-profit institution?
As per rule, 75 percent of the members in the school management committee will be the parents. But the parents, who in the name of the future of their children pay huge amount with their blood and sweat, are being termed as outsiders by the school administrators. Minority missionary school managements see a dent in their religious freedom, but will they not hesitate to tell what percentage of children in their schools belong to the minority community? In fact, they are doing educational business taking advantages set for a minority institution.
It is a self-evident fact that since the schools have been governmentised, the intimate relationship of the society with the school has been disappeared. The community character of the school has vanished and the teachers have been turned into a government servant instead of a guide and path-shower.
They are being engaged in all kinds of non-educational works. Due to good service conditions and salary, instead of mission-mode spirit, the domination of the people only for livelihood has increased in this pious profession of teaching. The government education system has collapsed due to limitless powers of education officers and their plundering policy. People have lost their faith in government schools. Taking illegitimate advantage of the flaws prevailing in government schools, private schools have established their own empire, where on one hand there is monopoly of managers, while the children are victims of financial, physical, mental and linguistic exploitation.
If we look at the routine of private schools, it is found that from the first day itself, huge amount is taken in the name of examination and fees. Every material from pencil to copy, book, dress has to be purchased from the school’s prescribed shop at arbitrary expensive price. The order of not opening the school before 8 a.m. fixed by the administration has been overruled and the young child has to get up at 5 a.m. in a semi-sleep to prepare for the school. Instead of the mother tongue, they are forced to converse in English; otherwise they are either punished or ridiculed. Less class work and more homework are provided in the name of studies.
Since parents pay huge amount in the form of fees, they make their children proficient either by themselves or through tuition. If the parents do not pay special attention to the children from their own level, then the education system of these schools will totally collapse. Under the burden of redundant courses, private schools have killed the childhood of children. A 5-6 year old child is left entangled in 30-40 books and notebooks. They have neither time to play nor take proper sleep. After all, how would be all round development of the children?
How ridiculous is the demand to allow a separate seating arrangement for the children from 25 percent depressed and weaker sections of the society? In the name of globalization and modernity, their heart, mind and thinking have also been adapted to the British Era mindset. If this is not the irony of independent India, then what is it that a child from a poor section is being openly declared as a second class citizen! On the one hand, we chant the melody of “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat” and “Ek Desh Ek Vidhan”, while on the other hand we do not shy away by making provision of separate education system for the resourceful citizens negating “Ek Desh Ek Gyan”.
A decade has passed since the enactment of the Right to Education Act, but no action has taken against the schools, which did not meet the prescribed criteria. Due to the corrupt, sluggish and careless educational management; the graduates, on whose shoulders future of the country rests, are bound to bear the brunt of the derailed education system.
Quality elementary education, full of all resources, is the foundation of a nation and children of all strata are its future. The private schools must not be allowed to do arbitrariness in the name of education, to mock the law, to keep the spirit of untouchability to poor children, to spoil children’s childhood and to establish parallel empire. The government should come forward with “One Nation One Education” policy, so that all sections of society may have same education and opportunity.
(The author is a technocrat and an educationist. He holds Master in Engineering from M.N. Regional Engineering College, Allahabad/Prayagraj)