Speaker CP Singh (third from left) at the RTE Act stock-taking meet being held at Social Development Centre, Ranchi, on Tuesday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
White chalk on a whiteboard equals a colour code that even dummies know is a learning disaster.
Jharkhand Right to Education Forum (JRTEF), which conducted a survey on the implementation of Right to Education Act from December 22, 2012, to January 20, 2013, across 330 government-run schools up to Class VIII in 24 districts with 24 NGO partners, discovered the writing on the wall was barely legible.
In Jharkhand, nearly 15 per cent schools do not have “functional” blackboards.
Around 80 per cent of schools have blackboards whose hues range from a pale grey to off-white. Earlier, mounted blackboards were made of thin slate. Now, painted boards in black have taken over walls. Frequent chalk marks and erasure turns the boards pale with shock, metaphorically speaking.
Simply put, the painted black surface is unfit to write on and rub off, repetitively. So children can’t make out what is written with chalk on off-white surfaces.
These are not the shock findings shared on Tuesday with stakeholders, including Unicef, Save The Children, Oxfam, national and state child rights protection outfits, eminent RTE crusaders and the media.
The first survey of its kind, based on qualitative and quantitative research, revealed other surprises of the unpleasant kind.
The study reported 88 per cent schools received textbooks eight months after the start of the academic year.
Teachers, usually blamed for the poor state of education, also bared their heart to the surveyors and said the system kept them engaged with everything but teaching.
Teachers complained about “overloaded” work that included midday meal monitoring, government surveys, overseeing school construction work, if any, and official engagements.
Throwing light on school infrastructure, report highlighted concern areas. Twenty-four per cent schools had missing doors and windows. In at least 2 per cent schools, one or two teachers managed children of two or more classes in the same room. In 57.23 per cent schools, the playground was a pipe dream. In 15 per cent schools, tube wells were defunct showpieces.
The real shocker, probably, is the scale of ignorance displayed by both teachers and parents.
More than 80 per cent members of school management committees and 56 per cent of teachers were unaware of various provisions of the RTE Act. Around 72 per cent of parents have not heard about the existence of school management committees.