The Right to Education Bill is with the President of India, for now. In my view it is a half-hearted bill, more for style than substance.
The most important objection to the bill, I have, is its approach. The aim of the Bill should be to make available Basic Quality Education to all Indian Kids as a fundamental right. Instead the approach of the bill currently is to provide some education to poor Indian Kids.
Since this ACT will atleast live a decade, before the lethargic Indians act again, this act is highly insufficient for a Globally Competitive World that would be present after a decade.
Here are some salient features and my analysis of this bill, that may last atleast a decade, if not more and hence has to seen from that perspective of future and not present.
Free and compulsory education to all children of India in the six to 14 age group;
Think. What will a kid do till 14 years of age..? IX std. If this bill lasts say a decade, is that our poor kids, whose hope is only good education, are guaranteed for only IX std education..? Even without this bill, may be that would happen to a large extent by itself in a decade. So is this bill only about publicity, half-hearted attempt, that falls with a thud in the middle of the well..?
Instead of age-group, the act MUST specify completion of Schooling for all kids, The Completion of Schooling should be a centrally administered examination for all kids of all states only in core subjects Maths, Science, Environment Science, Economics and Social science.
No child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until completion of elementary education.
Fine. It definitely takes care of kids dis-continuing education due to poor performance. But what are the responsibilities of educational authorities to ensure every student is really qualified and not just passed to circumvent the system..? There is no mention of any ‘scale’ for quality of education.
Should the act not spell out basic duties and responsibilities of educational authorities and institutions, specific to this act..?
A child who completes elementary education (upto class 8th) shall be awarded a certificate;
Calls for a fixed student-teacher ratio;
What will a mere certificate do..? And that too of Eighth Standard..? Is it not a mockery of education?
Is mere certificate our ambition? Again will a mere student-teacher ratio ensure quality of education to students..? Is that ratio achievable, given the constraints of quality of teaching and population..? Is it not a half-hearted attempt to do something..?
Provides for 25 percent reservation for economically disadvantaged communities in admission to Class One in all private schools;
In my view a very good measure. But it should not stop with providing fees and books. Ofcourse it is a difficult thing to work out. Nevertheless Good.
School teachers will need adequate professional degree within five years or else will lose job;
School infrastructure (where there is problem) to be improved in three years, else recognition cancelled;
Financial burden will be shared between state and central government
Unfotunately quality of education cannot be measured in India through professional degrees of education or just infrastructure. This is the truth. I have seen so many schools (and colleges) with name-sake excellently qualified teachers and name-sake excellent infrastructure, all put to dis-use.
Here are some of my suggestions, which of-course is going to be on deaf ears.
- Make the act not based on age-group, but on completion of Basic Schooling.
- Specify an Examination that is centrally administered for students to pass like the DOE accreditation examinations of several levels for completion of Basic Schooling.
- All students of all schools need to pass this examination supported by Private and Government schools.
- All schools must be mandated to ensure that their students are sufficiently qualified to pass this examination. If there are failures, Schools will continue to support the students to pass this examination till the time they pass. This need to be supported by Government.
- If the ‘first-time pass percentage’ is not adequate continuously, DOE intervention must be sought to correct the situation.
- To do this financial outlay for education must be increased to atleast 8-10% of GDP for our country, from the current 3-4%.
- Support Privatisation of Education Distribution actively, while the quality scales are firmly nation-wide and with Government. Also Government should pitch in economically to assist the dis-advantaged kids, as envisaged in the current act in Private and Public Schools.
Most important GOI should view this bill as an opportunity to provide high-quality basic minimal schooling education to all Indian Kids, irrespective of their social and economic status. The Government should not see this bill as an enable to provide some education to poor Indian kids.
We Indians need to understand the future challenge that Indians will face in a Globally Comeptitive world and have to work on this Bill, as an opportunity to shape up ourselves in every way