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A Comment on the Right to Education Act 2009

Both practitioner and policy analyst are willing to excuse the crawl of progress in Government provisions for education. The lack of improvement in student learning outcomes has afforded even more latitude.

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Both practitioner and policy analyst are willing to excuse the crawl of progress in Government provisions for education. The lack of improvement in student learning outcomes has afforded even more latitude. The country has finally made the obvious link between the measurement of student learning and teaching design, is considered a giant step forward in improving the education system in the country. However, the fact that the estimates of how much the assessment processes capture comprehension or thinking skills are weak. In contrast to this resigned attitude that easily excuses mediocrity, there is the unrelenting and noisy expanse of righteous speak, protesting a lack of quality in education. Whatever you have read about the Right to Education Act of 2009 (RTE), may well fit neatly into this pattern of extreme reactionism.

On superficial analysis, it would seem as though sophistication in scale stumps the administration. The root of the problem is that, in our ambition to establish ourselves as a nation, we callously trample over too many subtle realities which we register later as an insubordinate lack of compliance against the grand plan. A case in point may be the approximately 52 lac Jharkhandi Government school students who will have no choice but to have their school walls decorated by the names of the PM, CM, and 'national' heroes so they become more patriotic.

An Education Reform through Responsible Citizenship:

There is little debate that the RTE is a milestone in education reform in the country. As little as there is about it needing to have been better written, administered and implemented. For example, the funds that reach schools through Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the Central Government Scheme and main vehicle to implement the RTE, to be disbursed by the School Management Committee (SMC) is reliably late, tied and only as much as rupees fifteen thousand per school.

We need to be patient with the attitudinal change needed to prioritise the State taking accountability for children's learning outcomes and community partnerships. We need to acknowledge that the army of administrators designed, trained and monitored to deliver the paraphernalia, supposedly enabling education systems, is disincentivised to see beyond the reams of red tape to outcomes of activities they defend so haughtily.

Aside from being an anchor for debate, the RTE is also an anchor for accountability, because it is the law. Six years after it has become legal, we need to stop tolerating Government schools asking for domicile certificates from parents and children before admission based on the political flavour of the day, stop using the SMC as a local political platform, stop wondering if our children's education will be compromised because Grade 1 is admitting 25% children whose parents cannot afford the fee, stop bickering in rarefied academic meetings to prioritise how to engage with the Government. If we must give in to nationalistic fervor, as we have been wont to do recently, let us do our bit by replacing criticism and callous ignorance of local context with practice informed by rigorous evidence and playing our individual part. No education reform works without good governance, and that rests on responsible citizenship.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house



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