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1.7 lakh children out of school: Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan survey

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan
The Hindu
05-02-2014

As many as 1,70,525 children in the State between the age of seven and 14 are out-of-school, reveals the survey carried out by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

This includes children who never enrolled and those who have dropped out of school. The data, which has been compiled after school and household surveys, has been further tracked at the block, cluster and the district levels. Of the 1,70,525 lakh children, 83,820 are girls.

The educational district that has the highest number of out-of-school children is Bangalore (South) is 18,393, followed by Gulbarga (15,468) and Raichur (12,128). The district with the lowest number of such children is Uttara Kannada with 686, followed by Udupi (1,008) and Sirsi (1,066). Five districts, Yadgir, Raichur, Gulbarga, Koppal and Bellary, have 56,898 such children.

The average dropout rate, which is calculated against enrolment in 2012-2013, is 2.3 per cent. The highest dropout rate is 6.32 per cent in Yadgir, while the lowest is 0.66 per cent in Dakshina Kannada.

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan had taken up the survey in November after the High Court of Karnataka took up a suo motu case. While the activists claimed that the number of such children was 6.28 lakh, the Education Department figures for the last academic year revealed put it at 51,994.

Responding to the findings of the survey, Commissioner for Public Instruction Mohammad Mohsin said, “The figures have revealed that there are more number of dropouts compared to the department’s earlier figure as the survey was more comprehensive with some parameters being changed,” he said.

Sources, who attended a high-level inter-department coordination committee meeting on Tuesday to discuss the proceedings in the High Court, said that the department officials were asked to verify the figures once again as some members said that an NGO survey had claimed that the dropout rates in districts such as Yadgir and Gulbarga were much higher than the figures produced by the department. The officials of the Education Department were also urged to formulate an action plan to focus on preventive techniques rather than curative techniques to reduce dropout rates.

The survey findings will be presented to the High Court on Wednesday.

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Limitations of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, The Education for All Movement

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan

24-12-2013

Ramandeep Kaur

Opening new schools in areas which do not have these, improving infrastructure of the present schools, tackling the student teacher ratio, providing training to the teachers and quality elementary education to children, focusing girl education and computer education – These are the few objectives of  Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (The Education for All Movement) which is a time bound programme working with an aim to make elementary education universal for all the children in the age group 6-14 years.

Demand for quality education is increasing in India. At the same time it has been observed that required changes and task of educating all cannot be done in isolation. It needs collaborative efforts of the state and central government, private organizations, and local government. Based on this and by merging all the District Primary Education Programmes (DPEP), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan was initiated in 2001-2002 by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

But the backbone of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is one of its major limitations and this is parateachers. Parateachers are hired to educate class I and II students. But to do the task successfully, almost all the parateachers are under-qualified so they cannot deliver the expected quality. In Rajasthan the minimum qualification for these teachers is 8th class and for female teachers it  is 5th class. At most of the places the specific education level of these parateachers is 10th or 12th class. Now do you think that such a teacher can educate students? Not only this but the teachers are also not paid well.  An average salary is Rs 2000 per month with honorarium even as low as Rs 800. It is said that salary of five parateachers is equivalent to the salary of one normal teacher. So their salary is much lower than the salary of a normal teacher. All the parateachers work on contract basis. This causes insecurity and lower down the quality of education. Now how can a good teacher be interested to join the cause? It can be a voluntary service.

Other hurdles on the way to success of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan are quality, funding, accountability and active participation.

To overcome all these problems the Right to Education Act (RTE) was launched with an aim to make elementary education fundamental for children belonging to the age group 6-14 years. It is also working on the same goals but now the question is whether it will fulfill the gaps created by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan or just the duplication of the same. The most favorable point of RTE is its legal backing whereas SSA lacks this. RTE is working on the weaknesses of the SSA. It will also check the increasing dropout rates under SSA programme.

But educationists who are working in the field say that lack of adequate number of teachers is the biggest problem of such projects. Only dedicated teachers and their interest in bringing change can bring success. At the same time retraining present teachers is required who can deliver the best to educate children.

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The Status of Institute of National Importance will enpower NCERT

Right to Education, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan

13-09-2013

Digital Learning

NCERT is in the process of becoming the Institution of National Importance which will empower it to be more flexible and offer degree courses says Prof Parvin Sinclair, Director, National Council of Educational Research & Training (NCERT) in conversation with Mohd Ujaley

NCERT was established in 1961 in the backdrop of school system struggling to disengage from its elitist colonial past and create common programme which is universally accessible and reflect the pluralist character of India. How successful has NCERT been so far?

NCERT was formed in 1961 by merging seven bodies that already existed, so our agenda was determined largely by the objectives of those seven bodies. Initially, we were called the research and training body. Our job from the beginning was to look at all aspects of school education, from inside activity of classrooms to outside implications of it. So there have been four curriculum frameworks formed over the years as part of meeting these objectives.

Over the years we were supporting the Government in providing the universal education which was always there as Universalised elementary education scheme but without it being formalised or pushed through like in RTE. However, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and before that Diploma in Primary Education (DPE), we were all working towards this.

Jawaharlal Nehru vision was that everyone should have a scientific tempo. So accordingly all curricular were meant for bringing everybody to class room.  However, we agree that ground realities are different. Since we are National Advisory Body under Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), the central body can only advice the State Government as education is the concurrent subject. So what we proposed can be taken with a complete spirit or partly or may be not at all by states, that is why the RTE came into being and you can see the great changes it has brought in the last three years. Moreover now under the act, everyone has to deliver, although we have not reached 100 percent access, but we are much nearer there than three years ago and a short way to go still in terms of access.

In terms of quality we are far short of that, yes we have put out curricular framework, suggested model test books, and have created model resources at the NCERT for the country, be it educational kits, the science kits, the mathematics kits and the CCE (Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation) package. I feel, we should probably have done it in 2006, what we have put out now and we have send it to every SCERT (The State Council Educational Research and Training) to take forward.

Some of the States s are not able to implement some of the provisions of RTE due to various reasonable reasons and they complain that the diversity of regions have not been taken into account? How do you look at it?

There is a lot of levy given in the RTE, it’s just a broad guideline for all the states, for example it says that you need a rap then the rap does not give you access to the differently abled students. A lot of things which are said are not happening and things that are not said are actually happening. It is just the spirit of it. You talk about playground, I say that share it with the nearby schools. Toilets and water are the basic needs of a school and if you are not providing it then how can you call it a school. If you are shoving people in to 2/5 area with just a black board and you call it a school and still you say do not shut it down. I believe these are slum schools which you are giving and you are saying that this is the way out then I don’t agree to it.

Creation of climate of acceptance and thinking differently for different sects of people is very important.  Does that also get reflected in the NCERT vision?

The National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005 absolutely ensures that each individual level is going to each child which is given opportunity to grow based on her experience. That is what, it is about and that is why it is difficult to bring to the classroom because each has a different back ground. Curriculum is not about reading writing and assessment that is an old colonial view. It’s about growing as a person, how to care about others and bringing values to people, building the health mental as well as physical, allowing them to work on cultural and social front. Making people learn how to share with others and being included and including others.  Be it a girl child or the boy child, they should get equal opportunities and should be confident about it and that is my NCF 2005 vision, so definitely diversity gets reflected in our vision.

How have been your focus in helping and assisting Madarsa and Maktab and other linguistic and religious minority intuitions in reforming their curriculum?

As I earlier mentioned, education is a concurrent subject, so role of state governments become very important in assisting Madarsa and Maktab and other linguistic and religious minority intuitions. We provide a curriculum and it depends on the Madarsa groups also to take it or not, but what we have found in our studies that the Madarsas are actually going beyond the religious text books and getting involved in modern education. The Madarsas are now teaching basics of computers and even English.

Most of us are talking about ICT to the extent that ICT itself has become a subject, however, it should be enabling students to learn other main stream subjects easily and effectively. What should be the role of ICT in your opinion?

Precisely, what you have mentioned that it should be enabler. ICT is not just power point presentation, it is beyond that. We have started a project called NROER (The National Repository of Open Education Resources) and the idea is to allow children to see from the repository of NROER. People can add to these resources which will be review before being put to NROER, so by that way teachers are enabled to create what is actually needed. That is what the role of ICT should be.

What are some of the works which you are doing at NCERT and what are your future plans?

At present we are in the process of becoming the Institution of National Importance which requires the Parliament clearance so we are in the process of getting that bill drafted. The reason for that there is so many plans that requires flexibility. NCERT is a club of eight big institutes like National Institute of Education, Central Institute of Education and Technology and apart from these we have five regional institute of education plus we have the Central Institute of Vocational Education so totally we are eight. NCERT is the council overarching body which looks after these institutes. So if this conglomerate becomes the intuition of national importance, you can imagine the kind of empowerment which all the regions will get. So this is one plan we are working on right and there are other areas also where we are focusing and hope to do bring good results.

– See more at: http://digitallearning.eletsonline.com/2013/04/the-status-of-institute-of-national-importance-will-empower-ncert/#sthash.iZvIzMvv.dpuf

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Will RTE Act fall flat for half of Andhra Pradesh children?

Right to Education, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan

HYDERABAD: The implementation of Right to Education Act may have got a shot in the arm with the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding the 25% reservation in unaided private schools for children from lower income group families but in Andhra Pradesh (and possibly other states in the country), the Act might soon figure among the many well-intentioned government schemes that do not impact, leave alone benefit, its target group. At best, the Act might give a humble building watchman’s child admission in a private school, but its impact could just be limited to that — the urban poor — that too with a modest success rate.

And here’s why. As per government records, there are 1.07 crore children in the 6-14 age category in Andhra Pradesh. As per the government’s own estimate, over 67% of the state’s 8.7 crore population lives in rural areas and the remaining 33% in urban. So, of the 1.07 crore children, at least over 60 lakh live in rural parts, where government schools are famously poorly equipped and there are no private schools. Despite the introduction of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, it has been indicated in many studies and surveys conducted by non-government bodies that precious little has changed in the condition of schools.

While a freshly published, voluminous tome on the implementation of RTE sits on the desk of the school education department and focuses largely on schools in rural areas, including steps to beef up infrastructure, adding transportation facilities etc, the worrisome part is that the entire planning is based on what activists point out are questionable figures. As per government statistics, just about 3 lakh children in AP are out of school. The NGO statistics are at the other end of the spectrum pegging this figure at a disturbing 18 lakh. The truth possibly lies somewhere in between. As per the state’s Human Development Report 2007, about 12 lakh children in the 6-14 age group in AP were out of school, which shows the government estimate of 3 lakh out of school children rather too miraculous.

And over-reporting of enrolled schoolchildren is the first roadblock that RTE’s implementation will face. “All the implementation exercises are for the 3 lakh children,” says M Venkat Reddy, national convener, MV Foundation.

Clearly, children numbering between 9 and 15 lakh are not on the government radar, leave alone that of RTE. Funds from the Centre for initiatives to enrol out of school children are calculated based on the 3 lakh figure. Add to that the number of children in government schools in rural areas, where it’s not only the infrastructure but also the quality of education that is poor. If RTE makes them legally entitled to better quality education not only in government but in the best quality private schools, they have no access to either. Take for instance the schools in Kowdipally mandal in Hyderabad’s neighbouring Medak district. The mandal has about 100 schools but caste-wise enrolment figures here indicate poor OC (other castes) numbers and high SC/ST numbers. “There are private schools about 20 kms from here and those who can afford it, send their children there,” says M Subhash Chandra, Centre for Action Research and People’s Development.

But P M Bhargawa, former vice-chairman of the Knowledge Commission and staunch critic of RTE says one needn’t go even that far. “In the heart of Hyderabad are government schools where students from Class I to X have just two teachers,” he says. “All government schools should be high quality but that will never be done. Where is the impetus to do that,” Bhargawa says, adding that what the Act envisages works for cities.

The Act’s limited scope is a big dampener particularly for the state’s SC/ST population. B Dhenuka Naik, who has been working on tribal rights issues, wonders how the act would help the state’s 13 lakh ST population in the 6-14 age group and believes not even 1% would benefit. Officials overseeing education in the state’s tribal parts note that there are many habitations that are 4-5 km away from schools. “Transportation is not possible in all the cases because the regions are hilly and there are no roads,” says Ashish Chandra, state coordinator for tribal education and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya.

Officials, however, maintain that all efforts are being made to implement RTE effectively. “We want to implement the Act in right earnest. Basic amenities remain a source of concern and we are trying to address it. We will require involvement of all stakeholders,” says V Madhusudan, state coordinator for RTE implementation. The funds too, he says, are in place as the Rs 4,800 crore allocated for SSA will be used for RTE implementation.

The Times of India, 01 May 2012

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How to fulfil the RTE promise

Access to education, Finances & Budgets, Quality, Reservation of seats, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan

Centre must fund the states, but let them identify the students who need help

After the Supreme Court judgment on the constitutionality of the Right to Education Act (RTE), the onus is now on the government to design a transparent, fair and accountable method to implement the 25 per cent reservation in private schools for economically and socially disadvantaged communities. Instead of reservation, perhaps the initiative can be called 25 per cent inclusion seats or 25 per cent opportunity or state-sponsored seats. A general estimate is that anywhere between 2.5 to 7 million poor students would benefit in the first year of full implementation. And this number will double every year thereafter for eight years. A large number of poor children’s future is thus at stake in the proper implementation of the 25 per cent opportunity seats.

From the multitude of consultations and discussions that have taken place over the last two years on this provision, there are certain ideas that should help fulfil this promise of inclusive education.

First, the central government must directly pay for the 25 per cent opportunity seats instead of relying on state governments to reimburse schools on a state-by-state basis. State governments have already been pointing out that Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) funding they receive from the Centre does not include the cost of the 25 per cent seats in private schools. Instead of including this cost in the SSA budget, which would vary widely from state to state, it is far more convenient and straightforward for the Centre to take this responsibility directly. The amount to be paid should be decided by state governments as per the costs incurred in providing education in state schools, and this would be different from state to state. The payment should be from the central government.

The central government should adopt a uniform criterion for adjusting the reimbursement amount from year to year. The current state RTE rules differ widely in re-calculating the amount for future years. Some states offer to revisit state expenditures every two years and re-calculate the reimbursement amount, while others suggest adjusting the first year amount by the rate of inflation for all future years. It is better to have a uniform national rule about re-calculating the reimbursement amount.

Second, the Centre should create an independent special purpose vehicle to manage the reimbursement, which could be called the India Inclusive Education Fund. The central government would commit to make contributions but more importantly, it would raise extra money from corporations, foundations and individuals. These non-government funds could be used to bridge the gap between the reimbursement amount calculated on the basis of the actual per-student cost in government schools, and the fees of private schools. Private schools would be free to raise their own funds to bridge the gap through donations, charity events like music concerts, cultural fairs and other annual events, but they would also get support from the fund. The fund could also offer inclusion awards for schools that do well in social integration and holistic learning of the 25 per cent opportunity students. These awards could help cover a part of the gap for private schools as well as incentivise them to take the challenge of inclusion more seriously.

To assure schools that they would be reimbursed on time and in full as per the process outlined by the fund, the Centre should include its contribution in the annual central education budget and transfer that amount to the fund on April 1. The Centre should calculate its liability as equal to the amount paid out by the fund in the previous year and deposit that amount on April 1 in the fund’s account. The cost adjustments for the current year as per the national uniform rule should be made by August, and the Centre should then deposit the corresponding amount on September 1 to meet its full obligations for the academic year.

Third, the definition and identification of qualified candidates under the 25 per cent should be left to state governments. Some states have suggested that they would issue student cards to those who qualify and that this student card would then be used by schools to determine eligibility. Some states may issue smart coupons or vouchers or biometric cards. There is certainly a need for experimentation to decipher better methods of identification. After some years of experience, we may evolve a commonly accepted method across the states.

The verification of qualified candidates should be done by the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), its state branches and affiliated NGOs. The NCPCR should have the powers to take action against states that have significantly high rates of identification errors of omission and commission in order to keep the pressure on the states to improve their identification processes and technologies. The NCPCR may require that the failing states contribute to the fund in proportion to the degree of their failure.

Many more details and processes need to be worked out for the effective implementation of the education opportunity seats, but the above forms the foundation of a structure that will help fulfil the RTE’s historic promise.

The writer is president of the Centre for Civil Society, Delhi

Indian Express, 23 April 2012

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Education for all still a distant dream in J&K: CAG

Access to education, Right to Education, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan

The Comptroller and Auditor General has pulled up the Jammu and Kashmir government for financial irregularities, fund diversion and non-monitoring of Central education programmes, saying that it has resulted in education for all a “distant dream” in the state.

“Despite all efforts of Government of India (GoI) and State Government, education for all still remains a distant dream,” the CAG report for the 2010-11, which was tabled in J&K Assembly recently, said.

The CAG painted a grim picture of the Centre’s flagship programmes Sarva Shikhsha Abhiyan and mid-day meal in the state as the government failed to implement these schemes.

“Non-preparation of long and short term plans based on ground realities, non-monitoring of schemes at all the levels and inadequate internal control mechanism had hampered the implementation of the programmes at school and zonal levels,” the report said.

The auditor further revealed that government has conducted a mid-term appraisal of the ongoing Sarva Shikhsha Abhiyan and mid-day meal schemes for possible corrections.

“Cases of financial irregularities, advances paid and await adjustment accounts, diversion of funds, abandoned school buildings resulting in unproductive expenditure were noticed in a large number of cases, which had dented programmes implementation,” it said.

The official auditor also found the huge unspent balances at every level.

The report revealed that 3,256 habitations (12 per cent) at the state-level were without any schooling facility.

Though the teacher-pupil ratio in test-checked schools was 1:12 and within the prescribed norm of 1:40, 718 schools out of the 7,016 institutions were run by one teacher only, it added.

Despite an increase in the number of government schools, the enrolment of students had decreased, it said. Private schools are given preference by parents owing to the lack of infrastructure in government schools.

Regarding basic amenities in schools, CAG findings revealed that despite the liberal funding by the Centre, 69 to 86 per cent government schools did not even have toilets, drinking water and electricity facilities, playground and book banks for students.

“The funds meant for replacing school equipment such as blackboard, sitting mats, dusters, registers and other office equipment were not released timely. Also, the State Implementing Agency (SIS) of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan had retained funds and parked it in saving bank accounts during 2006-11.

“About 32 to 72%t of the funds were released by the SIS to implementing agencies at the fag end of the financial years,” the CAG lamented.

Introduction of mid-day meal programmes did not have the desired impact due to inadequate infrastructure, deficient survey for preparation of annual plans and less procurement of food-grains from FCI, the report said, adding that “monitoring of programmes was virtually non-existent”.

The report disclosed that despite the Central funding for construction of kitchen-cum-store under mid-day meal scheme, there were inadequate kitchen utensils in the schools surveyed.

The CAG concluded that non-preparation of plans based on ground realities, non-monitoring of schemes at all the levels and inadequate internal control mechanism had hampered the implementation of the programmes.

Daily News and Analysis, 07 April 2012

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The Story of One School Why 650 children came and only 200 remained

Access to education, Community Schools, Government run schools, Right to Education, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan

WITH THE Right to Education Act (RTE) completing two years, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal may feel smug about the decline in dropout rates. But close to 40,000 children in the Naxal-hit districts of Chhattisgarh are yet to even enrol in schools. To them, the impressive figures of the Human Resource and Development Ministry regarding addition of classrooms matter little.

Most of these children missing from schools in these areas are actually victims of conflict. During the time of the now disbanded Salwa Judum, the state-sponsored anti-Naxal militia, and later Operation Green Hunt from 2005 to 2010, the biggest casualties apart from human lives were schools and education. Salwa Judum destroyed schools as they went on a rampage vacating villages suspected of supporting Naxals; while Naxals did the same, fearing that schools would be used as camps by the security forces.

Many schools were shut permanently, while some were shifted next to the roads along the Salwa Judum camps. The residential school in Chintalnar, around 80 km from district headquarters Sukma, was among those shut in 2005, forcing all the children to go back to their homes. “More than 650 children turned up for admission when the school reopened in 2010, but we were able to take just 370 of them. There were just too many to be accommodated with the limited infrastructure available,” recalls Jairam Sinha, an instructor in the school, pointing to the school building. The building is a small house with four rooms measuring 10 ft by 10 ft.

Since then, the number of students has come down to 200, as many have run away. Still, nearly 150 boys are crammed, often 2-3 to a bed, in an abandoned, dilapidated house nearby that serves as a temporary hostel. The girls sleep in the school itself. The irony, however, is that even the new school building, which has been under construction for the past two years, won’t be able to accommodate the sanctioned strength of more than 500 children. And Jairam Sinha says there are more than 2,000 children in a 10-km radius from Chintalnar who don’t go to school.

One big hurdle in reaching Chintalnar and constructing the new building is the 45-km long virtually non-existent road, which connects it to the nearest supply town of Dornapal. The road has seen some major blasts by Naxals in the past few years, claiming the lives of several security personnel. “Transportation is a challenge on that road as whatever little is sent has to be sent under heavy security,” says Alex VF Paul Menon, Collector of Sukma.

This, however, is by no means the most dismal scenario. Hundreds of villages scattered in the forests of south Chhattisgarh exist with no sign of administration. Due to Naxal threats and difficult terrain, neither the government nor any NGO is aware about the children left out of the formal education system. KR Pisda, school education secretary of Chhattisgarh, says, “According to our estimates, there are around 15,000 children who are yet to be enrolled in four districts of Dantewada, Bijapur, Sukma and Narayanpur.” However, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in 2009 estimated that there are 40,000 such children in seven districts, and the situation hasn’t improved since then.

Regular schools in these areas have rarely been successful. Residential Ashram schools and Porta Cabins (structures made of bamboo), being run by the Tribal Welfare Department and the Department of School Education under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, are a common sight all across these districts.

What is, however, odd is the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camps right next to most of them. During Salwa Judum days, many schools were used as camps by the CRPF and police and were vacated only in 2011 after repeated warnings by the Supreme Court. But the new camps that came up later have been constructed quite close to the schools. Many see this as a way to check ration supplies to Naxals, often siphoned off from those meant for schools. This, in turn, make the schools vulnerable as they too can come in the line of fire in case a CRPF camp is attacked by the Naxals.

It is common knowledge in these areas that the initiation process to become a Naxal starts early and sometimes children are recruited for Bal Sanghams (Naxal schools) at an early age of six. At the age of 12, these Bal Sanghams get promoted to other ranks, which also includes armed cadres.

Gopal Buddu, 20, was taken away by Naxals at the age of 13 from his village Kamkanar in Bijapur district. “I was forced to go with them as resistance would have meant trouble,” says Buddu. After six years of hardship in the jungles and working as a bodyguard of the Division Commander, one fine day in 2011 he surrendered before the Bijapur police. Buddu has now been rehabilitated in the Chhattisgarh Auxiliary Armed Police Force.

Most parents now, however, see schools as a safe haven for their kids as they also provide protection from being taken away forcibly by the Naxals. Therefore, the longer the children remain out of schools, more their chances of getting picked up by the Naxals. Shanta Sinha, Chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) says, “It’s important to give access to education to the children and then let them decide their path after they are empowered to think.”

EVEN IF a child gets enrolled in a school, retaining and keeping track of them is a huge challenge. Recently, the NCPCR found out that around 35 tribal children had been taken to Kerala by contractors to work in brick-kilns. “We wrote to the Kerala government asking them to send these children back to their schools in Chhattisgarh,” says Sinha. The state government there was able to track 25 of them while 10 could not be traced.

Himanshu Kumar, who used to run an NGO, Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, in Dantewada district, says, “We used to work with tribal activists, who knew every student by name and village. They were quite quick in tracing them as soon as they disappeared from schools.” He has, however, now shifted to Delhi after his house was bulldozed by the police in 2009.

In places like Dantewada and Sukma, where the drop-out rate is 26 per cent at the primary level, way higher than the national average of around 7 percent, radical steps are required to retain students. “In partnership with the government, we are working on a doable Management Information System on Child Tracking, psycho-social support for children affected by violence, and a set of standards and protocols for residential institutions on child protection, which would enable tracking of children both at the community and institution level,” says Shaheen Nilofer, who heads UNICEF Chhattisgarh, which is probably the only agency with access to remote areas in Sukma, Bijapur, Narainpur and other south Bastar districts.

It’s not that the administration is not working at all, but the focus currently is on creating school infrastructure at places accessible by roads. Close to Dantewada town, a huge Education City, comprising residential schools for boys and girls, is being built at a cost of Rs 100 crore. The project, when completed, would be able to accommodate more than 2,000 children. But relocating so many children from villages would itself be a huge challenge.

OP Chaudhury, collector of Dantewada, says the aim is to send a message to people in interior areas that such kind of development is possible in their village too. “We want the community to come forward and take ownership of these projects,” he says.

The Right to Education Act (RTE) says that “the appropriate government or local authority shall undertake school mapping, and identify all children, including children in remote areas… within a period of one year from the appointed date…”

The idea seems difficult to implement in these areas, but certainly it is not impossible to accommodate children who wish to learn, by improving the infrastructure of the existing schools and restoring the ones destroyed during the conflict. Then only, in a real sense, would the strategy of winning hearts and minds work.

Prakhar Jain is a Correspondent with Tehelka.

Tehelka Magazine, Vol 9, Issue 15, 14 April 2012

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Record sum allocated to school education

Government run schools, Reservation of seats, Right to Education, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan

Free uniform and notebooks; compulsory for schools to reserve 25% seats for children from poor sections.

The State Budget gives a major boost to school education, with the government earmarking a record sum of Rs.14,553 crore for it — the highest ever allocation made to any department in Tamil Nadu. The school education department will also focus on increasing enrolments and arresting drop-out rates, Finance Minister O. Panneerselvam told the Assembly on Monday.

This year’s Budget gives a thrust to the implementation of initiatives as part of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), in addition to implementation of the Right to Education Act.

The allocation ought to be seen in the context of the RTE Act that places huge emphasis on improving school infrastructure and quality of education. Interestingly, the Budget speech had a special reference to the clause on schools reserving 25 per cent of their seats at entry level to children from economically disadvantaged sections. “It has now been made mandatory for all schools to follow this rule which has been notified by the State government,” the Finance Minister said.

Of the total Rs. 2,000 crore set aside for SSA for the year 2012-13, the State will chip in with Rs. 700 crore, with the Centre providing the remaining amount. This means an increase of over Rs.100 crore as compared to the outlay for 2011-12. This, potentially, could speed up implementation of the RTE Act in the State, for the School Education Department sees the SSA as a vehicle to take the State closer to RTE goals. In regard to RMSA, which received nearly Rs. 1070 crore for 2011-12, the State has sought adequate funding from the Centre to help improve secondary education in Tamil Nadu.

While no specific points pertaining to Samacheer Kalvi or other pedagogical interventions were made, a host of other schemes were announced. A sum of Rs. 150 crore will go towards providing free notebooks to all students in classes I to X going to government and government-aided schools.

As was promised in the election manifesto, the government will distribute four sets of uniforms to students every year, beginning 2012-13. Boys from class VI upward will receive full pants instead of half pants and girls will receive salwar-kameez. The government will also commence supply of a pair of footwear to all students from classes I to X, a scheme targeting 81 lakh children. Students will also receive special educational kits this financial year. This includes school bags, geometry boxes, colour pencils and atlases. As a follow up to an announcement made earlier, special cash incentives will be given to students in classes X, XI and XII. As per the initiative, which seeks to arrest drop out rates particularly in higher classes, students in classes X and XI will have Rs.1,500 deposited in their names, and those in class XII will have Rs. 2,000 deposited. A total of Rs. 313 crore was invested in students’ names in the current year and a sum of Rs. 366.7 crore will be invested in the coming financial year, benefiting 21.36 lakh students.

The Hindu, 27 March 2012

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2 yrs after RTE, UT sans monitoring body

Right to Education, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan

Even two years after the implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act in the city, the authorities have failed to set up the Right to Education Protection Authority (REPA) to address complaints regarding denial of admission and child rights.
It is mandatory for the state to set up the body within six months of implementation of the Act to ensure redressal of complaints regarding denial of admission and to monitor proper implementation of the Act.

While two admission seasons have already passed, the UT Education Department has not only failed to constitute the body but also not specified any alternative mechanism for filing complaints.

As per Chapter VI of the RTE Act, all states are supposed to either set up State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR), and within six months constitute REPA which should later be formed a part of the SCPCR.

For Union Territories, only REPA is to be constituted. The body is to be headed either by a retired High Court judge or a person with over 20 years of experience in protection of child rights. People can file written complaints to this local body.

Maintaining “the key requirements for setting up the body have already been met and the modalities have been worked out”, DPI (schools) Sandeep Hans says the draft now only needs the approval of the UT Administrator. “We hope to set up REPA within the next two months.”

“There were some administrative issues which were to be clarified. There was a clause which included the involvement of UT Social Welfare Department, but all these issues have now been worked out,” he adds.

According to UT Education Secretary V K Singh, the UT Social Welfare Department, under the directions of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, plans to constitute SCPCR in Chandigarh. “We had, therefore, withheld our proceedings, since only one of the bodies has to be set up. We are in the process of sorting out the whole thing with the welfare department, and soon we will be able to specify the final date,” he says.

As per the Ministry of Human Resource Development status report, only 11 out of the 28 states have set up SCPCR or REPA so far. These are Haryana (REPA), Rajasthan (SCPCR), Sikkim (SCPCR), Assam (SCPCR), Bihar (SCPCR), Chhattisgarh (SCPCR), Delhi (SCPCR), Mizoram (REPA), Maharashtra (SCPCR), J&K (SCPCR) and Madhya Pradesh (SCPCR).

The Indian Express, 19 March 2012
http://www.indianexpress.com/news/2-yrs-after-rte-ut-sans-monitoring-body/925457/0

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2011 proves tough for district education department

Right to Education, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan

VARANASI: The 2011 year proved tough for the district education department. The efforts to recruit teachers in government primary and upper primary schools after the declaration of TET results proved insufficient as the department could fill only 107 posts against the requirement of 2,500 teachers. The delay in distribution of free books (up to upper primary level) also hampered studies for most part of the year.

It may be mentioned here that Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), a national flagship programme to provide quality elementary education to all children in the age group of 6-14 years through a time-bound approach, forms the basis for implementation of Right To Education (RTE) Act that calls for free and compulsory education to children in that age group.

Basic shiksha adhikari Suryabhan said the process of inviting applications for the recruitment of teachers in government primary schools is on and hopefully, adequate number of teachers (as per requirement) would be ready to serve in the next academic session.

Similarly, the establishment of primary and upper primary schools as per the objective of RTE Act would be also completed to meet the norm, he added.

As per records of basic education department, there are 1,032 primary schools and 352 upper primary schools in the district. The officials of basic education department also admit that addition of new schools particularly in the urban belt is a difficult task due to non-availability of land.

According to the norms, there should be a government-run primary school for a population of 300 at a distance of every one kilometre, and an upper primary school for a population of 800 at every two kilometres.

However, if the records of education departments are to be believed, the girls of 381 villages in the district have to cover a distance of more than five kilometres to get education of upper primary level while the girls of 963 villages cover this distance to get secondary level education.

There are 1,289 villages in the district with 2,14,280 boys and 1,67,420 girls at primary level. The number of upper primary students is 1,61,231 (91,198 boys and 70,033 girls) in these villages. Besides, there are 1,34,886 students (74,322 boys and 60,564 girls) of secondary classes.

The Times of India 01-01-2012

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