New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) Two years after the Right to Education (RTE) Act came into force, more than 95 percent of schools across India still don't comply with RTE standards for infrastructure, a study suggests.
A review of the legislation's implementation by the Right to Education Forum, a civil society collective comprising around 10,000 NGOs and three networks, has shown that while some progress has been made in implementing the act, it is far from adequate. A copy of it is available with IANS.
The report reveals that 95.2 percent of schools are not compliant with the complete set of RTE infrastructure indicators, and in 2009-10 only 4.8 percent of government schools had all infrastructure facilities stipulated under the RTE Act.
Under the act, schools must have basic infrastructure facilities like an all-weather building with at least one classroom for every teacher and an office for the head teacher.
A separate toilet each for girls and boys, a playground and a library for every school with sufficient reading material, electrification of the school building, ramp access for disabled students, and computers are some of the basic requirements that have been recommended under the act.
The report, however, shows that one in 10 schools lack drinking water facilities, 40 percent lack a functional common toilet while another 40 percent lack a separate toilet for girls.
Sixty percent of schools are not electrified and only one in every five schools has a computer. Also, 40 percent of primary schools have a student classroom ratio higher than 1:30, stipulated by the act.
"The current status paints a bleak picture for children as more than 95 percent schools don't adhere to government norms and we have only one year left to meet the criteria laid in the RTE Act," says Ambarish Rai, National Convener of the RTE forum.
March 2013 is the time stipulated under the act to achieve infrastructure and other requirements like teacher-student ratio and teacher qualification standards.
"Now that we have the RTE Act in place, it is sad to see the lackadaisical attitude of state governments in implementing the Right to Education as a fundamental right in the true sense," Rai said.
The forum members add that monitoring the work is in the domain of the national and state commissions for protection of child rights; however, only 21 states have constituted State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCRs) or the Right to Education Protection Authority (REPA).
"These bodies are critical in protecting the larger interest of children including education," said Shireen Vakil Miller, director of policy and advocacy, Save the Children.
Rai adds: "There is, consequently, a huge infrastructural backlog that requires to be cleared, which makes the slow pace doubly unfortunate. Around four percent of habitations lack a primary school within a walking distance. Still we have 16 million children out of school."
The report also cites DISE (District Information System for Education) data, which suggests that 21 percent of teachers in schools were not professionally trained. The number of such teachers in December 2011 was as high as 670,000.
States like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Orissa have especially large pools of unqualified teachers, which directly impacts the quality of school education.
Things have only become worse in comparison with 2010, when 91 percent of teachers failed to clear the national Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) - the latest figure stands at 93 percent.
"This reflects the quality of instruction in teacher training institutes," adds Rai.
(Anjali Ojha can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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