2017 Delhi SMC Declaration on strengthening government schools in India
The Second National SMC Convention was organised on 12th December 2017 and attended by 350 participants from 13 states . It was held two years after the First National Convention and brought together SMC members from across the country to share their experiences and learn from the good practices which emerged in the span of two years. Based on the deliberations, the delegates unanimously adopted the Delhi declaration at the concluding session.
- We call upon State and Central governments to recognize the critical Constitutional role of the SMCs mandated in the RTE Act that is at the heart of the process of education renewal and in promoting quality equitable education in the schools across the country.
- We pledge to amplify the aspirations of India’s poor majority population, in particular socially excluded groups like Dalits, Adivasis and Urban Poor and Persons with disabilities, calling for a strong government school system in the country by working to form a strong federation of SMCs.
- We undertake to perform the responsibilities vested in us as per the RTE Act and its State rules and also contribute towards making education a key social and political issue.
- We urge governments to recognize our independent agency and strengthen SMCs, PRIs and the community at large as critical stakeholders in the education process.
- We urge our governments to take necessary steps to enable us to perform to our full potential by
- Allotting resources for comprehensive and timely training of the full SMC on the nuances of the RTE Act, its legally mandated powers and critical issues of discrimination, abuse and gender empowerment
- Providing for ongoing handholding and mentoring to ensure that SMCs are supported in exercising their legally mandated responsibilities
- Providing adequate school development grants to schools to enable SMCs to improve schools; processes of SDP preparation simplified and the plans prepared by SMCs should not be set aside but form the firm basis of allocations
- Ensuring that SMCs are constituted through a transparent and democratic process through elections that are conducted in a participatory manner to ensure that they are truly representative and independent
- Ensuring that SMC meetings are held regularly, their agenda are set based on the SMC’s initiative and have mechanisms for SMCs to stay in touch between meetings, \
- Creating provision for formation of SMC Federations at the state and national levels
- Strengthening formal grievance redress mechanisms, putting in place measures for ensuring safe and secure in schools and mechanisms for addressing unresolved issues through linkages with structures like SCPCRs, NCPCR and CWCs
- Building formal linkage with academic support structures like DIETs and SCERTs to enable SMCs to work better for quality improvement
6. We reiterate the need for formal linkage with PRIs and to take concrete steps for empowering the Gram Sabha as a site of decision making on education in the village. SMCs should be formally linked to PRIs as a Panchayat sub-committee, based on the experience of SDMCs in Karnataka.
7. We call on teacher unions to support SMCs and their federations to create a robust alliance of parents and teachers in support of strengthening the government school system across the country.
8. We regret that while all forms of discrimination is prohibited by law, diverse groups of marginalized and vulnerable children do not access schools and if enrolled are frequently not getting quality education. This includes orphans, LGBT, child labours, nomadic and migrant populations, Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims, Persons with Disabilities, Homeless, street children; girls and women are particularly vulnerable. Governments must enforce non-discriminatory measures.
9. As parents of children enrolled in government schools across the country and formally elected community representatives under the RTE Act, we call on the government to take necessary steps to ensure universal equitable quality education and RTE implementation. Governments must
a.Immediately make all schools RTE compliant and ensure safe, inclusive and child friendly environment in all schools
b.Immediately stop closure of government schools under the guise of rationalization
c.Stop privatisation of education and strengthen government schools so that all children are educated in an inclusive manner to build a socially cohesive society
d.Ensure that all teachers in the school are adequately trained, supported and motivated; teacher vacancies in schools are to be filled with trained and qualified teachers. Teachers must also be freed from non-teaching work.
e.Ensure timely and adequate supply of the full set of textbooks and learning materials in all schools immediately within the first week of a new academic session
f.Schools, when officially upgraded, need to simultaneously have their infrastructure and facilities enhanced to enable them to improve quality
g.Increase allocations to education in line with the existing long-term demand of 6% GDP allocation to education to ensure adequate and equitable allocations to schools across the country, ensure optimum standards of quality in all schools across the country
h.Put in place mechanisms to track instances of discrimination, violence, abuse or other rights violations of marginalized and vulnerable communities and provide for spaces for dialogue with parents and school authorities to address them
i.Make provision for identification, enrolment and special training for all out of school children so all children complete education till the 12th standard.
j.We regret the recent requirement of Aadhar is pushing vulnerable, especially urban poor, children out of school and is depriving them from access of entitlements.
k.Include pre-school and secondary education under the RTE Act and a fundamental right
10.We call on the governments to reverse privatization of education, regulate private schools and introduce the provision for SMCs in Private Schools to deepen their accountability to parents.