Teacher's Convention and Public Lecture in Bangalore, 01 March, 2017

Implementation of RTE Act: Issues and Challenges

One Day State Level Convention of Teachers

Date           :         28th February 2017, Tuesday

Venue       :         NaukararaBhavana, Dharwad, Karnataka

Implementation of RTE Act: Issues and Challenges

No nation in this world has attained advanced stage of development without universalisation of quality education provided to all citizens on an equal basis

-Prof. Muchkund Dubey

One Day State Level Convention of Teachers 

Organized by:

Karnataka State Primary School Teachers Association

In Collaboration with

Centre for Child and the Law, NLSIU

Supported by:

National RTE Forum

People’s Alliance for Fundamental Right to Education-Karnataka

About the Consultation

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Act, 2009 was brought into force to give effect to the fundamental right to education of all children in the age group of 6 to 14 years. On 01stof April 2017, seven years will be completed since the implementation of the Act in the country. However, even to this day, the legislation is riddled with glitches and has not been implemented in its letter and spirit. Various issues like shortage of qualified teachers, appointment of contract teachers, lack of infrastructure, merger and closure of government schools, non-inclusion of children in the age groups of 0 to 6 years and 14 to 18 years etc., are not only defying the purpose of the Act but are also lowering the standard of public education system by leading to increased privatization and commercialization of education.

In this context, a Convention of Teachers of Government primary Schools from all over the State of Karnataka was organized by the Karnataka State Primary School Teachers’ Association in collaboration with the Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University and supported by National RTE Forum and PAFRE-Karnataka on 28thFebruary 2017, Tuesday at NaukararaBhavana, Dharwad. The teachers representing the various districts of the State shared their experiences regarding the implementation of the RTE Act and the issues and challenges faced in their respective regions in the form of written formats.Based on the data received from the teachers, a declaration was brought out demanding for the “Effective implementation of the RTE Act, 2009 in its entirety” under the title “Dharwad Declaration”.

Inaugural Session

The Consultation commenced with an inaugural song by the teachers from Dharwad. It was then followed by welcome address from Mr. Narayanaswamy, Secretary, Karnataka State Primary School Teachers Association. Prof. Muchkund Dubey, Former Indian Foreign Secretary was the key speaker for the day. Mr. BasavarajGurikar, President, Karnataka State Primary School Teachers Association presided over the consultation. Mr. Vinay Kulkarni, Minister of Mines and Geology and MLA representing Dharwad Constituency, Government of Karnataka was the Guest of Honour. Other Chief Guests who graced the occasion included Mr. Ambarish Rai, Convenor, RTE Forum; Dr. Niranjanaradhya. V. P., Fellow and Programme Head-Education Programme, Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University; Mr. VeerannaTuramari, Commissioner, SSA-Dharwad; Mr. Gangappa, DIET-Dharwad, Mr. Renny D’Souza, PAFRE-Karnataka; Mr. MalateshAnnigeri, Principal Secretary, Karnataka State Government Employees Association; Mr. Siddanna Gowda, Karnataka State Government Employees Association and Ms. Ramadevi, Vice-President, Karnataka State Primary School Teachers Association. Approximately _450______ participants took part in the consultation. The participants to the consultation were teachers representing the different districts of the State of Karnataka.

Inauguration

The Consultation was inaugurated by Mr. Vinay Kulkarni, Minister of Mines and Geology and MLA representing Dharwad Constituency, Government of Karnataka by watering a plant. He was followed by Prof. Muchkund Debey, Mr. Ambarish Rai, Dr. Niranjanaradhya. V. P. and Mr. Basavaraj Gurikar who all joined the inauguration of the consultation by watering the plant thereby signifying that it is essential to nurture children by educating them for their individual as well as the nation’s progress.

Felicitation

The Presidents of the Teachers Association of all districts were felicitated by the Guests with the presentation of a memento.

Address by Mr. Vinay Kulkarni

Mr. Vinay Kulkarni, who addressed the gathering after inaugurating the Consultation, expressed his appreciation for the teachers who form one of the major pillars in molding the future of the nation by educating children. He well-regarded the efforts of the Karnataka State Primary School Teachers Association and other organizers in the direction of implementation of RTE Act, 2009 and stated that only if all stakeholders join hands together can the goal of effective implementation of RTE Act be realized.

Inaugural Address

Mr. BasavarajGurikar, president, Karnataka State Primary School Teachers Association, who delivered the inaugural address for the Consultation, enlightened the audience of the context in which the present consultation was organized. He drew the attention of everyone to the fact that in a period of one month, seven years will be completed since the implementation of the RTE Act, 2009 in the country and continued to state that“the state of affairs at the ground level is disturbing. The goal of right to education of all children is yet to be realized as not all children are enabled with the enjoyment of this right. In spite of various efforts on part of the Government like the enactment of the RTE Act, implementation of programmes like DPEP and SSA, education of children remains a distant dream. Major issues like non-inclusion of pre-primary education within the ambit of the fundamental right, shortage of teachers in government schools, poor status of English education etc., contest the viability of the Government schools which in turn is leading to the weakening of the Public Education System coupled with increased privatization and commercialization in the education sector. Hence, it is the need of the hour to save and strengthen government schools to ensure equitable quality education to all children. In this context, the present Consultation of teachers has been organized to discuss and deliberate issues pertaining to RTE Act, 2009 alongside collecting information about the status of government schools in 2017 as compared to in 2007. Based on the information received, a Dharwad declaration will be released which proposes to lay down certain demands in for the Government to fulfill.” Mr. Gurikar concluded his inaugural address by stating that “Save and Strengthen government Schools” should be our motto.

Introduction of the Key Speaker

Dr. Niranjanaradhya. V. P., Fellow, Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University introduced the key speaker of the day Prof. Muchkund Dubey to the audience.

Prof. Muchkund Dubey has done his Master’s degree in Economics from Patna University and later studied economics in Oxford and New York universities. He has a D. Litt degree (Honoris Causa) from the University of Calcutta. He had an illustrious career in the Indian Foreign Service, serving, among others, as India’s High Commissioner to Bangladesh and the Permanent Representative to U.N. Organizations in Geneva. He retired from the Indian Foreign Service after occupying the post of Foreign Secretary to the Government of India. He then joined the Jawaharlal Nehru University as Professor where he taught for close to eight years. As an international civil servant, he served at the headquarters of both the United Nations and the UNDP. He was the Indian Member on the Executive Board of UNESCO, Chairman of the Common School System Commission, Bihar, and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of Sikkim. His areas of specialization have been international economic relations, India’s social and economic development, international security and disarmament, international development cooperation and world order issues. He has authored two books, Unequal Treaty: World Trading Order after GATT and India’s Foreign Policy: Coping with the Changing World; edited three books including, Indian Society Today: Challenges of Equality, Integration and Empowerment; and co-edited six books. At present, Prof. Dubey is the President of the Council for Social Development, which is a leading research and advocacy institution that puts equality and justice at the core of social development to build a just society based on the guiding principles of secularism and equality, identity and justice.Prof. Dubey is one of the prime movers of right to educationwho has been strongly advocating for effective implementation of the RTE Act in its entirety and the establishment of Common School System to strengthen the Public Education System.

Key Note Address

Prof.Muchkund Dubey, who delivered the key note address, expressed his discontentment of the crippling public education system of the country and affirmed that the establishment of a Common School System based on neighbourhood school concept is the only solution to achieve the must needed universalisation of equitable quality education. Throughout his address, Prof. Dubey stressed upon the fact that “No nation in this world has attained advanced stage of development without universalisation of quality education provided to all citizens on an equal basis”. A gist of the discourse of Prof. Dubey is as follows:

Education is a social good. Education as a factor of social development is recognized all over the world and education is a must for development of everyone and at every level. No nation in this world has attained advanced stage of development without universalisation of quality education provided to all citizens on an equal basis. Universalisation of equitable quality education is the foundation for the progress and development of a country. It is in this aspect that the role of the Common School System comes onto the fore.

Common School system is a system of education in which all children from all strata of the society receive quality education in an equitable manner. Such system of education should be based on the neighborhood school principle where a neighborhood is defined for a school and not the other way round. All children from the neighborhood should receive quality education in the respective school without any discrimination.

Quality education implies value-based education which promotes wisdom. Knowledge is that which liberates. The UNESCO Delors’ Commission Report, the Report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century, explains education as a process of learning and elucidates the four pillars of education namely ‘Learning to Know’, ‘Learning to Do’, ‘Learning to Live together, Learning to Live with others’ and ‘Learning to Be’. In short, education should be the doorway to wisdom; nothing more than that and nothing less than that.

However, it is dismay that the education system in India is the most unequal and discriminating education system in the world. It perpetuates inequality and continues to give the poor in poor conditions. Further, education is measured in terms of literacy rather than wisdom. Literacy is the concoction of World Bank and other similar organizations which have been imposed on developing countries for economic concerns. As a result, education in India has become a commodity wherein, children are not being educated but are being made fit to be sold in the market. Value-based education is in crisis today. The egalitarian values of equality, non-discrimination, secularism, pluralism, democracy and sovereignty seldom find place in today’s education system.

It is critical for the prosperity of our nation, our place in the world and for our personal development that value-based education which inculcates wisdom is to be provided to all. Education as a factor of social development is recognized all over the world. Education provides the most important resource of a nation – human capital. In the modern era, production process prefers highly educated workers. However, due to the poor status of education in the country, Indian businessmen are moving to other countries like China to recruit employable workforce as they find Indian workforce unemployable. Thus, the teachers are facing the major challenge of a crisis-ridden educational system.

Another major concerning issue is that the poor status of public education system continues to prevail. Education in India is profusely privatized. These private sectors are focused on profits and cannot provide the required kind of education to children. For them, education is a commodity, source of profit. Private sector can neither universalise education nor inculcate the true purpose of education. The fundamental deficiencies present in the educational system will continue to prevail and the gaps between various classes of the society will further widen with the increasing privatization in education.

In this scenario, it is the need of the hour to establish the agenda of “Education as a Public Good” and institute mass movements to universalize education and demand for making the promotion of wisdom and value-based education as the motto of the education department.

Moving on to the Right to Education Act, it is no doubt that the legislation is riddled with significant loopholes. Many activists and educationists have discussed, deliberated and critiqued the Act. At the same time, it is significant to note that the RTE Act also encompasses considerable positive features. Some of these include:

  • Education was recognized as a justiciable legal right for the first time.
  • For the first time norms were laid down to be followed by all educational institutions. This is in practice all over the world and is proved to be the best way to preserve the dignity of the child.
  • The Act has various provisions relating to children like abolition of corporal punishment, non-detention etc.
  • Specific time-frame was provided for the implementation of the Act.

The RTE Act proposes to universalize education by acting on all variables at one time. The provisions of the Act are in continuity and inter-related to one another. Thus, laying emphasis on one or few particular provisions and neglecting the others is what is leading to complications and resulting in the non-implementation of the legislation. Any of them cannot be implemented without implementing all of them.

One important factor to be noted here is that, throughout the process of drafting of the RTE legislation, there was a financial memorandum which corroborated it. This memorandum was rejected by the Government in the Parliament while enacting the law. However, even though there is no financial memorandum supporting the law, Government is legally bound to provide all resources necessary for implementing the Act and universalizing education. But it is highly unfortunate that a continuous reduction in the allotment of budget for education is being witnessed. Budgets allotted for education in the previous financial year was lesser compared to that allotted in 2014-2015. On the other hand, various Committees set up to study the implementation of RTE Act recommend allotment of much higher budget, which is almost 4 to 5 times more than the present allotment. As a result, RTE Act remains unimplemented on many scores.

This being the situation, it is very vital that the community at large is awakened and take immediate measures are taken to save and strengthen public education system and demand for universalisation of quality education. Some of the measures that could be taken include:

  • Demand should be placed that the Government should produce a new plan to allot necessary resources and take measures for the effective implementation of the RTE Act.
  • Mobilization of mass movements demanding for universalisation of equitable quality education.
  • Demand that the First priority should be given to pre-primary education. It forms the foundation of RTE.
  • Measures are to be taken after discussions and deliberations with respect to the language policy to be followed in the education system.
  • Common School System based on Neighborhood School System is to be established at the earliest.

For, “No nation in this world has attained advanced stage of development without universalisation of quality education provided to all citizens on an equal basis”.

Later, Dr. Niranjanaradhya, provided a brief summary of Prof. Dubey’s discourse to the audience in Kannada.

Address by Guests

Mr. Ambarish Rai, Convenor, National RTE Forum

Mr. Ambarish Rai, gave a brief outline of the status of implementation of RTE Act in India and stated threw light upon the fact that at present, eight crore children are out of school in the country and the lack of necessary infrastructure in government schools is the major reason for the declining quality of public education system. He went on to explain that Right to Education implies “stop commercialisation and privatisation, recruit only qualified and trained teachers and it is a justiciable right of the children to obtain education”. However, the interpretation of the RTE Act is confined only to 25% reservation and this is leading to increased privatisation. As a result, education has become a business. He further warned everyone about the new trend in private sector of establishing affordable schools that is, low-cost private schools. These schools provide education at low costs and the quality is also equally low. He moved on to state that private sector is a big challenge to public education system and RTE is the only weapon to save and strengthen government schools. He emphasised that the success of any education system depends on teachers and to provide quality education, teachers should be allowed to engage in teaching activities like developing curriculum, designing textbooks and engaging with children and should be relieved of non-academic activities like census, election duties etc. Mr. Rai also underlined the importance of providing a support system of training to teachers and the need for the complete revamping and strengthening of teacher training institutes. Mr. Rai concluded his talk by calling upon teachers to demand for a strong public education system and work towards saving and strengthening of government schools.

Mr. Malatesh Annigeri, Principal Secretary, Karnataka State Government Employees Association

Mr. Malatesh expressed his appreciation regarding the efforts made in the direction of effective implementation of RTE Act. He called upon the teachers to come together and fight for their right and demand the Government to provide the necessary facilities in the Government schools.

Mr. Renny D’Souza, PAFRE-Karnataka

Mr. Renny D’Souza spoke of the importance of fundamental right to education and the imperative role teachers play in the realisation of the right to quality education of children.

Concluding Session

The Consultation was concluded with a vote of thanks expressing gratitude to all the dignitaries and the participants who made the event a great success.

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