M A I N   N E W S

Education becomes a basic right
PM calls for collective effort to realise true potential of RTE Act
Tribune News Service


Human Resources Development Minister Kapil on Thursday said private schools would have to start reserving 25 per cent seats only from the next year since the 2010 admissions were over. He said this reservation was applicable only in Class I at entry level.

“So it would take 12 years for the 25 per cent quota for the disadvantaged to become fully applicable in any private school,” he said, adding that private schools could be allowed to raise money through different models.

“They can have double shifts. We can let them use government school premises if they bring their teachers to teach the government students as well,” the minister said. Private schools had moved the Supreme Court against the Act, but did not manage a stay on the RTE law.

The estimated cost of RTE implementation is Rs 1.71 lakh crore over five years. The sharing pattern between the Centre and states will be 55:45.

“When the economy grows at 8.5 per cent next year, we will get more money for education,” Sibal said. — TNS

New Delhi, April 1
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Elementary Education Act came into force in the country today amid an emotional appeal of collective effort by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and loads of applauses for the government from various parties, including those in the Opposition — the BJP and the Left.

With challenges staring the government in the eye, the PM, in a historic address, dedicated the law to India’s children, inspiring them with vignettes from his life: “I’m what I am today because of education,” he said, reminiscing of his modest childhood and of days when he would walk for miles to get to school.

“I read under the dim light of a kerosene lamp and I want every Indian child, girl or boy, to be touched by the light of education,” said the PM as India moved into the coveted league of nations that guarantee education as a fundamental right to their children.

This is the first time that the PM addressed the country on a social welfare issue. Manmohan recalled the 100-year old resolve of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, who urged the Imperial Legislative Assembly to confer on the Indian people the Right to Education.

“About 90 years later, the Constitution was amended to enshrine the Right to Education as a fundamental right. Today, we come before you to redeem the pledge of giving all our children the right to elementary education.

The RTE Act, enacted by Parliament in August 2009, has come into force today,” the Prime Minister said, reassuring the states that finances would not be allowed to hamper the law and reassuring parents of education for every child, irrespective his/her social strata. With the RTE Act coming into force today, the fundamental right to education as incorporated in the Constitution under Article 21 A also became operative.

The PM linked the law to the nation’s future, saying the health, education and creative abilities of our children and young people would determine the well-being and strength of the country.

“It is our belief that if we nurture our children and young people with right education, India's future as a strong and prosperous country is secure,” the Prime Minister said, calling upon the teachers to become a partner in the national endeavour and promised improved working conditions for them on a day when India makes the historic pledge of educating 22 crore children aged between 6 and 14 years.



But where are the teachers?
States short of 5.3 lakh educators; additional 7 lakh needed under fresh law
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Ground zero

Punjab has 65,000 children out of school and over 11,000 posts of primary school teachers vacant.

Haryana has 1.5 lakh children out of school

Himachal Pradesh claims cent per cent enrolment. HP also has the best pupil:teacher ratio of 13 against the national ratio of 40.

Uttarakhand estimates it has 100,000 children who do not go to school.

Jammu & Kashmir has 39,000 children out of school and 6034 vacant posts of primary teachers.

New Delhi, April 1
The government today rolled out the ambitious Right to Education (RTE) Act amid a whopping shortage of 5.3 lakh schoolteachers. Add to this, an additional seven lakh teachers that would be required for proper implementation of the Act that gives a three-year window period to states to make education a fundamental right of children in 6-14 age group and mandates setting up of neighbourhood schools with full infrastructure.

There are 47 lakh posts of schoolteachers in India .Analysts say the success of RTE depends on the performance of states with a high teacher vacancy, something that has been assessed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). Uttar Pradesh tops the list, contributing 32 per cent of all existing teachers’ vacancies in the country.

Enquiries made by The Tribune reveal that UP is short of 1.7 lakh teachers. Next is the Left Front-ruled West Bengal, where 53,000 posts were lying vacant, as per MHRD records. Bihar has 51,000 vacancies, the figure for Chattisgarh and Orissa, the other educationally backward states, is 37,000.

Congress-ruled Rajasthan is short of 30,000 teachers. Chandigarh is among the better placed areas, with 500 posts needed to be filled. While figures for Punjab’s vacancies were not available in MHRD, Haryana has 17,200 teachers’ posts lying vacant, while Himachal has 6,200.

Single-teacher schools are another big challenge for the RTE law. Currently, 9 per cent (about one lakh) of the total 12 lakh schools at primary level have only one teacher, whereas the RTE Act specifies that any school with enrollment of up to 60 students must have at least two teachers. “Even a school with 10 children must have at least two teachers,” said an MHRD official. Kapil Sibal, HRD Minister, also admitted today that teacher recruitment and redeployment was the biggest huge challenge, saying, “We would prefer if states recruited teachers from the locality rather than posting those from urban areas to rural.”

Clause trouble

Some states have sought a clarification from the MHRD on the clause of RTE law which requires them to meet the teacher-pupil ratio of 1:30 at primary level in six months. This provision is contradictory to the Schedule of the law which gives states three years for preparation. The MHRD is now planning to seek the Law Ministry’s opinion on the issue, admitting that the contradiction would have to be clarified. “By six months, we don’t mean teachers have to be recruited. What we mean is that the states should sanction the posts of teachers that would be required but recruitment can happen over three years,” said a top ministry official.



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