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Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” – Kofi Annan

According to the Right to Education act, “Every child within the age group of 6 to 14 must be provided with free and compulsory education.” The act came into the referendum in the year 2001 to increase the literacy rate of the country and spread the awareness of the effectiveness of education in society. With India being termed as a young country, this kind of Act would boost the developing state of our country. For this, the Government holds the full liability of admitting the children into schools without any fee. Schemes like Mid-day meals were also put up so that the children get the proper nutrients for a sound physical and mental health. With this, it was also aimed at problems like child labor will get eradicated from the Indian Society and the country will develop in its education sector. Also, it aimed at eradicating poverty from the Indian Society.

Fig 1

Fig 1 shows the literacy rate statistics of India. According to this, post the establishment of the Right to Education Act, the literacy rate has gone on to improve by a mere 7% over a period of 15 years. Even though it is good that the level of women literacy has increased by around 16%, but the overall level is still way below the world average, thereby showing the objective of the Act not being fulfilled. The level of literacy is quite skewed in terms of geography too. The urban areas have a literacy rate of around 86% while the rural areas have it around 71%. Even now, in remote locations, the adults don’t realize the importance of education and they presume that it would be better for their family if their child works and earn some money. This phenomenon is even stronger if the child is female. According to many families, the girl has to go to her in-laws and do house managing. Therefore, they don’t require any education. These kinds of thoughts hold the progress of such communities, thereby, negatively affecting the economic status of the communities as well as the country. Moreover, looking at the literacy levels of different castes, the scheduled tribes have far lesser literacy rates in comparison to other castes. The percentages go down even lower if we look at the conversion of elementary education to higher educations like graduates and postgraduates. Despite having separate reservations for these people in all the institutions, this serves to be feeding the already fed. People who are well off economically take advantage of such schemes provided, thereby diluting the objectives of such amendments.

Looking at the supply side, the budget spent on this act is about half of what is spent in the 2010 Commonwealth Games. This results in scarcity of funds. The number of Government schools in the vicinity of villages is quite low. Even though there is a school, the infrastructure of such buildings are poorly maintained. Moreover, the teacher to pupil ratio across these Government schools is pathetic. The teachers are also poorly paid and their salary is irregular in many schools. Also, the distribution of the teachers across different schools (urban vs rural) is not well managed. Also, many don’t have enough incentives, thereby no interest in coming to a remote location and teach the children there. The administration regarding this also poorly managed. Many news articles are popping up in the local news about students coming back from school as the teacher didn’t show up. There is also news about schools being locked up for months. Further, many complaints have arisen on the nutrition levels and hygiene of the mid-day meals, which poses a serious threat to the health of the children. Moreover, the quality of education provided in many Government Schools is well below expectation. In the remote areas, where the need for awareness of education is quite high, the competency of the teachers is highly questionable. There are many cases where the teachers, themselves are unaware of what they were teaching in the class.

Looking into the current scenario, it is high time to implement the necessary steps to fulfill the objectives and motive set behind establishing the Right to Education Act. First and foremost, more budget should be allocated for this so that the infrastructure is well taken care of. The surroundings of the school must be kept clean to provide a hospitable environment for studying for the students. The supply of notebooks and study materials must be done at all the schools without delay and in ample amount so that every resource is available for the students.

For the teachers, they should be well paid and on a regular monthly basis. Also, extra benefits should be provided to the teachers teaching in remote rural areas so that they see the incentives of going there. An independent audit team must be established in each region to conduct checks in every Government-run school to evaluate the proceedings. Scaling of the performance should be done and a performance-related bonus for the teachers should be related to this. The selection procedure of the teachers should be standardized and properly followed so that the quality of the teachers should be at par at every school. Also, to make the study interesting, new fun and interactive methods of teaching should be adopted, such as model display and video learning, so that the little children get engaged in learning.

Proper awareness must be created in each part of the country regarding the importance of education in one’s life. The parents must be made aware of this Act and the future benefits of being literate. To take care of the economic barriers of the family, the students should be entitled to different scholarships and monthly stipends.

The Right to Education provides ample opportunities for achieving the goal of 100% literacy rates for the country. But the main hindrance lies in the implementation part, where the functioning in this regard lacks in many aspects. Therefore, the Government should be proactive to take all the necessary steps for promoting this and making this a great success. The idea of SabkaSaathSabka Vikas can be achieved with this where everyone will be capable of doing something on their own, for their families, and in turn, contributing to the development of this country.

Reference:

  1. Info Change India. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.infochangeindia.org/education/185-education/backgrounders/9215-challenges-in-implementing-the-rte-act
  2. School Education | Government of India, Ministry of Human Resource Development. (2019). Retrieved 3 August 2019, from https://mhrd.gov.in/rte
  3. India – Literacy rate 2015 | Statista. (2019). Retrieved 3 August 2019, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/271335/literacy-rate-in-india/
  4. Literacy rate at 71% in rural India, 86% in urban: Survey. (2019). Retrieved 3 August 2019, from https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/indicators/literacy-rate-at-71-in-rural-india-86-in-urban-survey/articleshow/47886609.cms

Abhijeet Prusty is a student of IIM Ahmedabad


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