New Delhi, Oct. 10: The Right to Education Act, which makes education a fundamental right of every child, is likely to miss the March 2013 deadline for its implementation and the government is planning to amend the law to get an extension of two years.
“The amendment is being planned since the compliance to RTE norms may not be possible by the 2013 deadline,” an HRD ministry official said.
However, going by the present backlog, experts believe that all the RTE norms may not be met in government schools even by 2015.
The implementation of the law, seen as a major social sector initiative of UPA II, is way behind schedule in the 13 lakh government elementary schools where nearly 16 crore children are getting education. The shortfall is huge on the key parameters of availability of teachers and basic infrastructure (see chart).
According to the law, implementation of key parameters, such as recruitment of teachers and creation of infrastructure, has to be complete by March 31, 2013, while training for untrained teachers has to be conducted by March 31, 2015.
Educationist Vinod Raina, a member of Central Advisory Board of Education (Cabe), said the RTE norms should be prioritised.
“The priorities are to be fixed otherwise the government cannot get 100 per cent achievement on any of the parameters even by 2015. The focus has to be on recruitment of teachers, training of untrained teachers, creation of classrooms, toilets and drinking water facilities,” he said.
Other parameters like boundary wall, playground or library should get attention later, Raina said.
Teachers’ recruitment and training is key to students’ education. Bengal is among the states with the most vacancies.
“The RTE says candidates have to clear the Teachers’ Eligibility Test (TET) to be eligible for a teaching job. However, only seven to eight per cent of candidates appearing for the TET are clearing the test,” Raina said.
Several states are asking for a relaxation of the TET rule. But Raina said this should not be allowed.
“If you give relaxation, it would defeat the purpose of quality education,” he said.
If the deadline is extended by two years, thousands of private schools not complying with RTE norms will also get a breather. These schools would have been closed down as the RTE Act says their recognition would be withdrawn if they do not meet the norms, Raina said.
A recent survey known as Paisa, undertaken by Accountability Initiative, an agency under Centre for Policy Research, has highlighted a number of problems in implementation of RTE norms on development and maintenance of schools.
“We found the schools are not getting development funds in time. The bureaucratic system that is supposed to release funds and monitor implementation of works is unable to do so,” said Yamini Aiyar, a senior research fellow at Centre of Policy Research.
Also, there are not enough junior engineers and support staff at blocks and sub-divisions in the states.
“The government has to strengthen the capacity of administration at block and sub-division level. This is not getting priority at all,” she said.
Lawyer Ashok Agrawal, who has been filing PILs on violation of the RTE law, said the plan to amend the RTE Act to seek an extension of the three-year deadline for implementation establishes the government’s intent “not to provide education to poor children”.
“The plan to extend the deadline only shows that the government does not have the intent to implement it. As of now, the implementation of the law is very meagre. If the government was serious, implementation of the law would not have been difficult in three years,” Agrawal said.
Delaying implementation of the law amounts to injustice to the poor, he said. “Ultimately the people have to rise and demand for education,” he said.