By Abdul Bari Masoud, MM,
New Delhi: Despite passing of the Right to Education Act in 2009, the objective of universal right to education for children remains a distant dream as India has the largest number of out-of-school children in the world which is more than the out of school children in whole of sub-Saharan Africa. This fact was underlined at a conference held here on “National Level Interface on “Reality of Implementation of Right to Education Act” on Tuesday.
Experts and activists also pointed towards ‘institutionalized discrimination’ in the implementation of the RTE as a result out of the 6.064 million out of school children, a whooping 4.6 million or 76%, belonged to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other religious minorities.
Talking to Muslim Mirror, Lenin Raghuvanshi, who is the Secretary General of S, alleged that central and state governments are not serious in the implementation of the act. Sharing the findings of the research conducted in the four minority-concentrated districts Purenea, Munger, Madhubani and Patna of Bihar, Lenin Raghuvanshi said there seems to be clear bias on the part of administration as schools were not opened in minority-concentrated neighborhoods.
“It is a deliberate attempt to deprive children belonged to Dalits, tribal and minorities of their constitutional right of getting education. For the last 3,000 years they have been deprived of education. There is a huge disparity between the education level of weaker sections and powerful sections of the society as well as in urban and rural education,” he added.
Specially mentioning the Musahar Girls belonged to one of most backward communities in Bihar, he said if given the chance the underprivileged children can also excel in every of walk of life. The issue relates to the absence of equity in education, he said.
Recently at the National Stocktaking Convention on RTE, the Vice President Hamid Ansari also raised the issue of equity in education. He had asserted that inclusive education is inherent in Right to Education and the government must address this issue expeditiously.
“It is said that quantity, quality and equality are the three sides of the triangle required to ensure Right to Education. Without any one of these arms, the triangle will collapse,” Ansari said.
In the conference, Musahar Girls presented a Stage Show, which is written and directed by them based on their daily life facts. One play was based on the theme of dreams and ambition of a girl born and brought in Musahar community called “Mera Sapna.
On the occasion, a research report titled as “5 Years of Right to Education Act & Grassroot Reality in Bihar” was also released. The report stated “ due to lack of good monitoring and accountability of government and the school administration is not able to tackle the problem of discrimination, insult faced by the students, drop out and on the verge of school leaving students. Due to all this situation children of underprivileged society is not able access their Right to Education”.
D Syeda Hameed, former Member of Planning commission said the report revealed the alarming condition of the RTE implementation at the grass root level. Especially on the ratio of student and teachers, the ratio of teacher and student in the school and the ratio should be 35:1. But the actual ratio is 66:1.
She also stated that there was no appointment of sweeper in government schools as children spend more time in cleaning the school. She highlighted the deplorable condition of the teaching and learning process. The children of class VIII are unable to read the text book of class II. Because of this, parents do not want to send their children to school. This apathy will result in the closure of the Government school and promotion of the private school. Due to which it will not possible for the marginalized and poor children to get quality education.
It has to be mentioned that one of the most stringent criticisms of the RTE has been the quality of education being provided. The Global Monitoring Report 2012 ranked India a low 102 out of the 120 countries on the Education for All (EFA) Development Index, based on progress in universal primary education, adult literacy, gender parity and the quality of education.
There is a huge disparity between the urban and rural education and rich and poor children have radically different schooling experiences.
In the Panel discussion, John Dayal, Secretary General, All India Christian Council, Ms. Jayshree Bajoria, Researcher, Human Rights Watch, Shantanu Datta, Director Engagement, International Justice Mission, Shimray, Assistant Zonal manager, Caritas India, Ms. Jagmati, All India General Secretary, AIDWA were of view that the government has taken certain initiatives for ensuring the implementation of the Act but failed to make the RTE Act a reality. Presently, less than 10% schools are compliant with all the provisions of the Act, while the deadline for ensuring the complete implementation of the Act has already passed. There is no road- map or time-frame to determine the future of the Act as well as the in the intention of the government.
The NGO Caritas India working in Bihar has jointly organized the conference in collaboration with Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR). All the recommendations of the conference are being communicated to NGOs, political parties, Niti Ayog, members of parliament, Ministry of Human Resource Development and policy makers, Lenin said.
Caritas has opened many schools in Bihar for poor children and providing help to madrassas. While the PVCHR is working rigorously in Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand on the issues of Human Rights and Child Rights from last few years. The Organization is also providing training and support to different organizations in 17 states of the country on the issue of Human Rights and Child Rights.