Speakers at the Ranchi workshop on Thursday. (Hardeep Singh)
Ranchi, Feb. 21: A survey among 120 schools of 18 districts of Jharkhand has revealed huge gaps in the implementation of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE), three years after it was enacted by Parliament.
The survey, which was discussed at a workshop organised by Campaign for Right to Education in Jharkhand (CREZ) and Child Rights and You (CRY) on Thursday, indicated that even though the number of school going children had increased considerably — 14 per cent in the last decade — there were many stumbling blocks preventing the implementation of the act.
The findings point to several anomalies, most of which are well-known. Gvernment directives were not being followed to form school managing committees (SMCs), while in 87.5 per cent villages, village education committees (VECs) continue to operate.
“As per rule VCEs were required to be dismantled once SMCs are formed. But in many schools both are functioning, thus creating conflicts. We found that major disputes surfaced, like in two Khunti schools, regarding transfer of power, distribution of finance and control,” observed Dr Niraj, convener of CREJ.
While in most schools the number of SMC members were in excess of the limit, norms were flouted in 13 schools by not ensuring representation of students, parents and local residents in the panels.
The survey revealed that members of village committees took over the SMCs in 104 schools between February 2011 to January 2012. RTE makes it mandatory for SMCs to include a member from the school’s Bal Sansad or Children’s Parliament which was not followed in four schools in Chaibasa district.
The most glaring loophole was inadequate representation of women in SMCs when the RTE Act calls for 50 per cent representation of women. Only 24.16 schools adhered to this provision.
Commenting on the report, Niraj said that many schools were still operating with a single teacher or para teacher. There was a huge imbalance in the appointment of teachers between urban and rural schools.
Principal secretary of the HRD department D.K. Tiwari said,” Formulating a law alone can’t improve the situation until people actively participate in the move.
Tiwari, who was chief guest, assured the gathering that the state would act according to the survey report. “There are around 50,000 vacant posts of teachers in Jharkhand. The state is going to start recruitments in March,” he added.
The HRD secretary endorsed the British model of school education wherein pay and perks of teachers of a school depended on the performance of children. “I personally feel we need to follow such a system. Funds meant for all purposes should directly be transferred to the school managing body,” he added.
Job Zachariah, Jharkhand head of Unicef, said his organisation was ready to collaborate with the state government in implementing RTE Act in Jharkhand.