The Telegraph
Sunday , January 6 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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State fares badly in RTE

Ranchi, Jan. 5: Not enough underprivileged children are coming to seek admission in posh English medium schools under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009. A few who have enrolled at these schools are far less informed in comparison to other students and need special attention from teachers.

These were some of the issues encountered during a survey conducted by a three-member fact finding team from National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), which was on a three-day tour of the state that concluded today.

“There are many gaps. We discussed our observations with state chief secretary S.K. Chaudhary, principal secretary of state HRD department B.K. Tripathy and welfare department principal secretary Mridula Sinha,” national co-ordinator of RTE Dhir Jhingran told reporters in Ranchi this afternoon, adding that they were expecting the government’s views within 10 days.

Even after three years of the act being implemented, Jharkhand has fared poorly. The team was here to scan a critical feature of the act. According to it, all private schools will have to reserve 25 per cent seats for underprivileged children. However, the NCPCR survey revealed that nothing has been done in this regard. No guideline has been finalised in the state as yet, Jhingran pointed out.

There is an acute shortage of teachers, absenteeism is rampant, children are malnourished and no guidelines have been formed to accommodate underprivileged children in private schools, the team found after visiting schools and anganwadi centres across Ranchi, Lohardaga and Latehar.

“There is a shortage of about 18,000 teachers in the state. Over 5,000 schools have just one teacher and stop functioning whenever the teacher is absent. Aware of RTE features, teachers know that students cannot be detained but do not do anything to assess their overall development involving education, health, nutrition and co-curricular activities,” observed specialist Venita Kaul.

The team found the attendance was less than half in most schools while in some, there were no students at all. Enrolment of children below 6 years was poor in anganwadi centres and the food supplied was not nutritious enough,” said nutritionist Shilpa Deshpande.

“All these are affecting their growth,” she added.

Children of migrant labourers have also been badly neglected. The government should draft a policy about how to bring them under RTE, said Jhingran. The national co-ordinator suggested that the state should print its own books instead of buying NCERT ones.

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