New Delhi, Oct. 18: A national commission has sought a status report from Jharkhand on the implementation of Right to Education Act, 2009 after complaints that private schools were ignoring the needs of poor children, especially those belonging to scheduled tribes.
National Commission for Scheduled Tribes has summoned the secretary, state human resources development department, N.N. Pandey, tomorrow to present the report.
Commission chairperson Rameshwar Oraon said the summons were a consequence of complaints received from individuals who claimed that educational rights of economically backward children, particularly those from scheduled tribe communities, were being neglected grossly by most private schools in Jharkhand.
“We are seeking the status report as the complaints mention how most RTE provisions are being flouted by aided and non-aided private schools in the state,” Oraon added.
The act makes it mandatory for all private schools to admit 25 per cent students from economically backward sections at the entry level, apart from ensuring prescribed standards of infrastructure, teacher-student ratio, teachers’ training, etc.
Oraon said tribal communities, which formed 27 per cent of the state’s population, were largely denied the basics, ie, free and compulsory primary education.
But sources in the state’s primary education department said they had stepped up efforts to ensure better compliance after the Supreme Court also backed the act.
“According to a new policy formulated to enforce strict implementation of RTE, private schools had been asked to apply for fresh NOCs, certifying that they had set aside 25 per cent seats for the poor,” said a senior official in the department. “This,” he claimed, “has ensured results.”
Experience in East Singhbhum, that hosts education hub Jamshedpur, has, however, unveiled a different reality.
There weren’t enough poor students to fill the 25 per cent benchmark in almost all schools. And that had more to do with lack of awareness among the people than, say, schools’ unwillingness to open up campuses for the poor.
Most schools in Jamshedpur, for instance, reported that not many poor parents — daily wage earners, domestic helps, construction workers and the like — knew about the act. If they did, many didn’t have basic documents like a child’s age proof. Efforts to mentor poor or illiterate parents on the provisions of the act were also missing completely.