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Do School Districts Get what they Pay for? Predicting Teacher Effectiveness by College Selectivity, Experience, Etc.

Teacher education and training, Teacher performance, Teacher salary

Holding a college major in education is not correlated with effectiveness in elementary and middle school classrooms, regardless of the university at which the major was earned. Teachers do become more effective with a few years of teaching experience, but (except in elementary reading) no gains—and some declines—in effectiveness appear in the second decade after a teacher has begun teaching. These and other results are obtained from estimations using value-added models that control for student characteristics as well as school and (where appropriate teacher) fixed effects that estimate teacher effectiveness in reading and math for Florida students in 4th through 8th grades for six school years, 2001-02 through 2006-07. The findings suggest that teacher selection and compensation policies are in need of revision.

Matthew M. Chingos, Program on Education Policy and Governance Working Papers Series

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Jharkhand’s RTE predicament: Too many students, too few teachers

Teacher education and training, Teacher performance, Teacher salary

As the Right to Education Act comes into force from April 1, Jharkhand faces the elementary question of how to implement the Act in the state. There are in total 40,313 schools in Jharkhand, imparting education to around 40 lakh students up to Class VIII. Almost all these government-run schools are facing a shortage of teaching staff.

Of the 1,33,500 posts for teachers in the state, 13,500 posts are lying vacant as of now. An estimated 15 per cent of the current teaching staff is set to retire soon. In fact, about 10 per cent of them would retire by the end of this year.

The salaries of the teachers, too, pose a serious problem. While the permanent teaching staff get a salary between Rs 12,000 to Rs 18,000, those appointed on contract as ‘para teachers’ receive paltry amounts between Rs 4,000 and Rs 5,000 per month.

This difference in the salaries has left the ‘para teachers’ disgruntled and on a perpetual mode of agitation. “The permanent teachers are entitled to pension and gratuity. Why have these benefits been denied to us,” asked a para teacher who led a demonstration of hundreds of such teachers outside the Assembly, demanding regularisation of their services, on March 26.

Instead of first filling up the posts of teachers lying vacant, the state is trying to enroll as many students as possible, revealed another para teacher. “This is being done after Parliament and the President of India cleared the Right to Education Act on August 26 last year,” the teacher said.

As per the RTE Act, the student-teacher ratio in all schools run under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan launched by the Centre in 2002 has to be 1:30. At the Utkramit Vidalaya in Lohardaga, this ratio is 1:450.

Similarly, at Jirhul Utkramit School in Bharna block in Gumla district, there are 360 students and one teacher. However, at the Utkramit School in Ranchi, there are 270 students and 30 teachers.

Asked about this, D K Saxena, Director (Primary Education), attributed it to the large number of vacancies and teachers’ preference to get transferred to towns in the absence of civic amenities in rural areas . “Now we are trying to rationalise the pattern of staff,” he added.

The recruitment of teachers is to be made by the State Public Service Commission. But since the chairman of the commission, Dilip Prasad, is facing charges of nepotism and corruption, the state government has not assigned SPSC the task to advertise recruitment to the posts. “We are trying to find an alternative mechanism to recruit qualified teachers,” said Mridula Sinha, Secretary, (Human Resource Department), under whose jurisdiction the neighbourhood schools of the state government work.

Nearly, 60 per cent of government schools in the state don’t have libraries and toilets. Also, the teachers, who, as per the RTE, are to promote students on the basis of their assessment rather than the marks scored in examinations, are not trained to do so.

Asked how this problem can be addressed, Sinha said, “We have set up centres to train teachers take up this new responsibility.”

Manoj Prasad, Indian Express, 12 April 2010

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Sticks and Carrots for Teachers

Teacher performance, Teacher salary

It was no secret, in the high school I attended not too long ago, that our Physics teacher was not very good at what he did. Students tended to miraculously get stomach aches and ailments that saved them from being in his class and even the mightiest were left in shambles after he went through the concept of gravity.

Despite our inability to understand him, however, we did not dare to provide the school authorities with any feedback on his lackluster performance. The consequences for whistle-blowers, if identified by the teacher, were known to be low grades or, even worse, extra classes in Physics. When the year-end exams rolled around, students like me pulled all-nighters cramming their text-books, paid for private tuition or sought the help of seniors who had also faced a similar dilemma. By hook and by crook, the Physics exam was thus cleared, students breathed a sigh of relief, parents smiled and shook hands with teachers and, in an instant, the suffering of one batch of students was bestowed to another.

My friends and I often wondered how it would be possible for teaching to be more student-centric and less focused on year-end results, how schools could foster a culture of innovation instead of mundane rote-learning, how smarter teachers could be brought into classrooms and how educators could be made more accountable for what they taught to students.

Today, after having spent a few years working in the financial services sector and with the memory of my Physics teacher fresh in my mind, I look to the age-old business concept of performance-based compensation and employee feedback in solving many of these challenges. I believe that this principle, which forms the bedrock of corporate governance around the world, can instill our system of education with a new sense of life and purpose.

As an employee at a large investment bank in the U.S., I drew a portion of my compensation through a fixed salary and another significant portion through a performance-based bonus. At the end of every three months, my manager would discuss my performance at the firm over a cup of coffee and highlight the things I was doing right and the things I needed to do better.

Similarly, I would point out what I had learned at the firm, what challenges I had faced and what I would concentrate on over the next three months. This casual but mandatory exercise was played out across the firm, from the most senior executives to the newly hired office assistant. Employees were asked to write feedback on each other, to discuss ideas in groups and to think of doing old things in a new way. As you may have guessed, how well employees fared in each of these areas decided what their performance-based bonus would be at the firm.

As soon as I joined the firm, I noticed a way of doing things that I knew instantly would have worked wonders at the high school I attended. Because employees were judged by their peers and seniors on concrete results instead of on mere ideas, there was a sense of energy and enthusiasm among people to make their work very specific to individual needs. Instead of a sense of competitiveness, a culture of meritocracy ran through the firm and it was not age or rank but quality of work which decided pay. Finally, because higher salaries were on offer for high performers, the firm automatically attracted the best talent and kept out those offering mediocre work and demanding stable salaries.

Such a system of performance-based compensation and teacher feedback makes logical sense to implement in India for a few reasons.

For starters, there are few performance metrics in place today, both in government and private schools, to grade and evaluate school teachers. Most times, the measure of a teacher is by the final results of students, like it was for my Physics teacher. How well a lesson is understood and appreciated by students, how the teacher manages to introduce a spirit of innovation into an otherwise complex topic and how the teacher responds to student-specific concerns are questions that are seldom asked, let alone answered. Thus, instead of someone who fine-tunes his teaching style to better mold his students, a teacher often resembles a worker in an assembly line who jams new data into students’ minds and bids them farewell.

A well-implemented feedback and compensation system, where teachers are critically evaluated by parents, peers and school leaders, would help in making teaching more student-centric and less mechanical. This will benefit not just students, who will suddenly find their classes more interesting and relevant, but also teachers, who will be able to communicate and interact with students more effectively.

Next, our schools desperately long for a culture of meritocracy, where it is not the age of a teacher or the years of employment with a school which determine seniority or pay; but rather, factors like quality of teaching, attendance record, leadership skills and adaptability. A setting where high-performers are paid higher salaries not only sets the tone for teachers to over-perform everyday but also emphasizes a school’s commitment towards rewarding such performance. Like it was at my old job, such a setting also attracts talented and motivated employees, who promise better work for better pay.

In an age where consumers can provide instantaneous feedback on the taste of their toothpaste or the service staff of their local bank, it seems odd that a factor as crucial as the quality of education is left in the vacuum. By mandating performance reviews and teacher feedback, a system of performance-based compensation opens a principal’s doors to hapless students or parents and allows any shortcomings to be addressed promptly and effectively. Providing feedback on teachers or on classes is then not seen as a crime, as it was for my Physics teacher, but encouraged as the right of every student, parent and teacher.

Finally, a well-implemented system of sticks and carrots sets up measures of accountability and transparency in educational institutes, something that is largely lacking at present. When school leaders are obliged to pay bonuses to teachers, there is a natural tendency for them to set up performance appraisals, document teacher track records and deeply scrutinize learning methods. For instance, a school director who is deciding on what bonus to pay his math teacher would like to analyze the teacher’s past performance and look out for any improvements or deterioration in quality of work. This, in turn, would help the director get a keener sense for how the school is doing at the most intricate levels and how students’ learning experiences can further be enhanced.

From my personal experiences so far, I have seen many schools deploy a performance-based compensation system for their top leadership (principals, administrators, managers) but conveniently leave teachers and support staff out of the party. While this half-hearted measure may boost macro-level statistics like number of admissions, year-end results or general discipline, it can never have the same effect that all-staff bonuses can on boosting teaching quality, instilling a culture of meritocracy, opening communication channels with parents and enhancing accountability standards.

Eventually, schools must recognize that even those teaching should be open to learning. Either by stick or by carrot.

Mayank Maheshwari, The Wall Street Journal, 7 April 2010

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The Right to Education Act: A critique

Access to education, Autonomy, Budget Private Schools, Edupreneurship, Government run schools, Learning Achievements, Licenses and Regulations, Right to Education, School Fee, School Management Committee, Teacher performance, Teacher salary, Unrecognized Schools

The `Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009′ (RTE Act) came into effect today, with much fanfare and an address by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In understanding the debates about this Act, a little background knowledge is required. Hence, in this self-contained 1500-word blog post, I start with a historical narrative, outline key features of the Act, describe its serious flaws, and suggest ways to address them.

Historical narrative

After independence, Article 45 under the newly framed Constitution stated that the state shall endeavor to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.

As is evident, even after 60 years, universal elementary education remains a distant dream. Despite high enrolment rates of approximately 95% as per the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER 2009), 52.8% of children studying in 5th grade lack the reading skills expected at 2nd grade. Free and compulsory elementary education was made a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution in December 2002, by the 86th Amendment. In translating this into action, the `Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill’ was drafted in 2005. This was revised and became an Act in August 2009, but was not notified for roughly 7 months.

The reasons for delay in notification can be mostly attributed to unresolved financial negotiations between the National University of Education Planning and Administration, NUEPA, which has been responsible for estimating RTE funds and the Planning Commission and Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD). From an estimate of an additional Rs.3.2 trillion to Rs.4.4 trillion for the implementation of RTE Draft Bill 2005 over 6 years (Central Advisory Board of Education, CABE) the figure finally set by NUEPA now stands at a much reduced Rs.1.7 trillion over the coming 5 years. For a frame of reference, Rs.1 trillion is 1.8% of one year’s GDP.

Most education experts agree that this amount will be insufficient. Since education falls under the concurrent list of the Constitution, financial negotiations were also undertaken between Central and State authorities to agree on sharing of expenses. This has been agreed at 35:65 between States and Centre, though state governments continue to argue that their share should be lower.

Overview of the Act

The RTE Act is a detailed and comprehensive piece of legislation which includes provisions related to schools, teachers, curriculum, evaluation, access and specific division of duties and responsibilities of different stakeholders. Key features of the Act include:

  1. Every child from 6 to 14 years of age has a right to free and compulsory education in a neighborhood school till completion of elementary education.
  2. Private schools must take in a quarter of their class strength from `weaker sections and disadvantaged groups’, sponsored by the government.
  3. All schools except private unaided schools are to be managed by School Management Committees with 75 per cent parents and guardians as members.
  4. All schools except government schools are required to be recognized by meeting specified norms and standards within 3 years to avoid closure.

On the basis of this Act, the government has framed subordinate legislation called model rules as guidelines to states for the implementation of the Act.

A critique

The RTE Act has been criticised by a diverse array of voices, including some of the best economists. MHRD was perhaps keen to achieve this legislation in the first 100 days of the second term of the UPA, and chose to ignore many important difficulties of the Act. The most important difficulties are:

Inputs and Outcomes

The Act is excessively input-focused rather than outcomes-oriented. Even though better school facilities, books, uniforms and better qualified teachers are important, their significance in the Act has been overestimated in the light of inefficient, corrupt and unaccountable institutions of education provision.

School Recognition

The Act unfairly penalises private unrecognised schools for their payment of market wages for teachers rather than elevated civil service wages. It also penalises private schools for lacking the infrastructural facilities defined under a Schedule under the Act. These schools, which are extremely cost efficient, operate mostly in rural areas or urban slums, and provide essential educational services to the poor. Independent studies by Geeta Kingdon, James Tooley and ASER 2009 suggest that these schools provide similar if not better teaching services when compared to government schools, while spending a much smaller amount. However, the Act requires government action to shut down these schools over the coming three years. A better alternative would have been to find mechanisms through which public resources could have been infused into these schools. The exemption from these same recognition requirements for government schools is the case of double standards — with the public sector being exempted from the same `requirements’.

School Management Committees (SMCs)

By the Act, SMCs are to comprise of mostly parents, and are to be responsible for planning and managing the operations of government and aided schools. SMCs will help increase the accountability of government schools, but SMCs for government schools need to be given greater powers over evaluation of teacher competencies and students learning assessment. Members of SMCs are required to volunteer their time and effort. This is an onerous burden for hte poor. Payment of some compensation to members of SMCs could help increase the time and focus upon these. Turning to private but `aided’ schools, the new role of SMCs for private `aided’ schools will lead to a breakdown of the existing management structures.

Teachers

Teachers are the cornerstone of good quality education and need to be paid market-driven compensation. But the government has gone too far by requiring high teacher salaries averaging close to Rs.20,000 per month. These wages are clearly out of line, when compared with the market wage of a teacher, for most schools in most locations in the country. A better mechanism would have involved schools being allowed to design their own teacher salary packages and having autonomy to manage teachers. A major problem in India is the lack of incentive faced by teachers either in terms of carrot or stick. In the RTE Act, proper disciplinary channels for teachers have not been defined. Such disciplinary action is a must given that an average of 25 percent teachers are absent from schools at any given point and almost half of those who are present are not engaged in teaching activity. School Management Committees need to be given this power to allow speedy disciplinary action at the local level. Performance based pay scales need to be considered as a way to improve teaching.

25% reservation in private schools

The Act and the Rules require all private schools (whether aided or not) to reserve at least 25% of their seats for economically weaker and socially disadvantaged sections in the entry level class. These students will not pay tuition fees. Private schools will receive reimbursements from the government calculated on the basis of per-child expenditure in government schools. Greater clarity for successful implementation is needed on:

  • How will `weaker and disadvantaged sections’ be defined and verified?
  • How will the government select these students for entry level class?
  • Would the admission lottery be conducted by neighbourhood or by entire village/town/city? How would the supply-demand gaps in each neighbourhood be addressed?
  • What will be the mechanism for reimbursement to private schools?
  • How will the government monitor the whole process? What type of external vigilance/social audit would be allowed/encouraged on the process?
  • What would happen if some of these students need to change school in higher classes?

Moreover, the method for calculation of per-child reimbursement expenditure (which is to exclude capital cost estimates) will yield an inadequate resource flow to private schools. It will be tantamount to a tax on private schools. Private schools will endup charging more to the 75% of students – who are paying tuitions – to make space for the 25% of students they are forced to take. This will drive up tuition fees for private schools (while government schools continue to be taxpayer funded and essentially free).

Reimbursement calculations should include capital as well recurring costs incurred by the government.

By dictating the terms of payment, the government has reserved the right to fix its own price, which makes private unaided schools resent this imposition of a flat price. A graded system for reimbursement would work better, where schools are grouped — based on infrastructure, academic outcomes and other quality indicators — into different categories, which would then determine their reimbursement.

What is to be done?

The RTE Act has been passed; the Model Rules have been released; financial closure appears in hand. Does this mean the policy process is now impervious to change? Even today, much can be achieved through a sustained engagement with this problem.

Drafting of State Rules

Even though state rules are likely to be on the same lines as the model rules, these rules are still to be drafted by state level authorities keeping in mind contextual requirements. Advocacy on the flaws of the Central arrangements, and partnerships with state education departments, could yield improvements in atleast some States. Examples of critical changes which state governments should consider are: giving SMCs greater disciplinary power over teachers and responsibility of students’ learning assessment, greater autonomy for schools to decide teacher salaries and increased clarity in the implementation strategy for 25% reservations. If even a few States are able to break away from the flaws of the Central arrangements, this would yield demonstration effects of the benefits from better policies.

Assisting private unrecognized schools

Since unrecognized schools could face closure in view of prescribed recognition standards within three years, we could find ways to support such schools to improve their facilities by resource support and providing linkages with financial institutions. Moreover, by instituting proper rating mechanisms wherein schools can be rated on the basis of infrastructure, learning achievements and other quality indicators, constructive competition can ensue.

Ensure proper implementation

Despite the flaws in the RTE Act, it is equally important for us to simultaneously ensure its proper implementation. Besides bringing about design changes, we as responsible civil society members need to make the government accountable through social audits, filing right to information applications and demanding our children’s right to quality elementary education. Moreover, it is likely that once the Act is notified, a number of different groups affected by this Act will challenge it in court. It is, therefore, critically important for us to follow such cases and where feasible provide support which addresses their concerns without jeopardizing the implementation of the Act.

Awareness

Most well-meaning legislations fail to make significant changes without proper awareness and grassroot pressure. Schools need to be made aware of provisions of the 25% reservations, the role of SMCs and the requirements under the Schedule. This can be undertaken through mass awareness programs as well as ensuring proper understanding by stakeholders responsible for its implementation.

Ecosystem creation for greater private involvement

Finally, along with ensuring implementation of the RTE Act which stipulates focused reforms in government schools and regulation for private schools, we need to broaden our vision so as to create an ecosystem conducive to spontaneous private involvement. The current licensing and regulatory restrictions in the education sector discourage well-intentioned `edupreneurs’ from opening more schools. Starting a school in Delhi, for instance, is a mind-numbing, expensive and time-consuming task which requires clearances from four different departments totaling more than 30 licenses. The need for deregulation is obvious.

Please support our efforts towards ensuring Right to Education of Choice through some of the activities suggested above. Join our RTE Coalition.

Parth Shah, Ajay Shah’s Blog, 1 April 2010

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The wrong way to school

Licenses and Regulations, Right to Education, School Management Committee, Teacher performance, Teacher salary, Unrecognized Schools

Heard of model rules? No? When an Act is passed in Parliament, there may still be vague areas that need closer attention. Model rules are written to help implement the Act. But the rules can never be better cooked than the original law was when poured into the parliamentary pressure cooker. No creative legislative masala can help cover up half-baked khana and half-thought laws. So it is with the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, and its model rules. The Act, commonly referred to as the Right to Education (RTE) Act, becomes law on 1 April.

One apparent sign of a half-baked law is the number of lawsuits it generates. Even before the Act has been notified, the cases have started flowing into the Supreme Court—the first challenging the power of the state to force unaided schools to follow a reservation policy. What dish would emerge and, importantly, when, from the Supreme Court grinder is anyone’s guess: In that case, the Act that is addressing one of the most pressing issues confronting the country may not be even on the menu any time soon.

So what’s in the Act and the rules? The hope was that they would at least do no harm to private schools, while helping to improve government schools. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Everyone is tired of hearing about the high rate of teacher absenteeism (25%) in government schools—and the fact that half of the teachers who are physically present are not engaged in teaching activity—except the makers of the Act and the rules. The “input” educationists hold the belief that teachers are absent because they work too hard with little reward in poorly furnished schools, so with a lighter work load, better pay and pucca schools, they will get better results. Get the best ingredients and we will get the best dish—that’s the recipe of the “input” educationists, who believe input equals output, regardless of the process in between. So they don’t ask about the chef.

The truth is the ingredients, even the best ones, don’t jump into the frying pan at the right time and in the right proportion on their own. A chef is needed: She is not just the principal or the administrator with the right skills and adequate powers, but also the larger system and mechanisms of accountability and assessment, as well as the clarity of goals. In all these critical areas, the Act is silent. And the drafters of the model rules have left the details for state education departments.

Consider that the proposed governing body of all schools—except for unaided private schools—is a school management committee that has no teeth to take disciplinary action against teachers or even assess the learning achievements of students. On the contrary, teachers are to be kept on a separate legal track when any action is taken against them. State governments, according to the model rules, must constitute special school tribunals at all levels for the grievance redressal of this persecuted species of public servants. Other sarkari officers have to follow the laws of the land and take the jammed, potholed road to the Supreme Court in case of disputes. Teachers take a short cut, set their own precedents with their own tribunals, as the rules ensure—leaving them entirely unaccountable.

There is neither mention of evaluating teachers’ actual competencies (which doesn’t end at getting a bachelor of education certificate, by the way), nor of students’ learning outcomes. But enrolment and attendance are to be checked. All students must be in the classroom? Yes sir! Teachers? Teaching? Learning? No. No. And hopefully.

As silent as the RTE Act and rules are on real teacher accountability, they are equally adamant on making all non-government schools immediately unrecognized on 1 April. No matter how long a school has existed or who is the proprietor, if it is not a government school, it must register again and meet all government requirements.

But what about government schools themselves? Well, they are already considered recognized, no questions asked. Under this Kafkaesque logic, the municipal school running from a tent for several years in New Delhi is legally superior to the swanky Vasant Valley School.

Still, the sadder part of the RTE Act is the looming closure of tens of thousands of low-cost private schools across India. Most of these schools serving the poor will not be able to meet the requirements of the land plot, building specifications, playground and such in the prescribed three years. When they finally close down in 2013, millions of poor students will be forced to sign up at government schools they had once opted out of. Bribes might keep some of the budget schools going for some time, but with the law stacked against them, anyone hunting for supposed ramshackle fly-by-night “teaching shops”—and there are many (read: leftist NGOs)—can persecute them.

The minimum that citizens should expect from the RTE Act and model rules is the improvement in learning achievements in government-owned and -operated schools. The role of teachers is central to quality education. But teacher accountability is left to teacher unions and school tribunals. After waiting for 60 years in the Indian Republic, citizens are going to be further disappointed—in fact, their pockets would be emptier in paying for this newly christened Right to Education. Or maybe the Act’s name itself ought to be rechristened: It is really the right to employment—for the ones fortunate enough to be hired as government schoolteachers.

Parth J. Shah, The Mint, 31 March 2010

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Private schools free to fix their own fees, says Sibal

Budget Private Schools, Right to Education, School Fee, Teacher salary, Unrecognized Schools

In what comes as a blow to the efforts of city parents’ associations which have been campaigning for reining in school fees, Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal said on Friday that the fees of private schools cannot be regulated and that each school had the right to fix the salaries of its teachers.

Sibal’s claims contradict provisions in the Delhi School Education Act, 1973, which stipulate that remuneration of teachers in private schools cannot be less than their counterparts in government schools. The minister said this contradiction will go away once the Right to Education Act is implemented from April 1 this year implying that the central Act will override the state law.

`There is no such provision in RTE,” Sibal said about the salaries of teachers while addressing principals at the 37th annual meet of National Progressive Schools’ Conference — a group of nearly 110 private unaided schools in the city.

“The salaries of teachers in private schools do not have to be according to the government. They will decide to pay what they want to pay,” he declared, while countering a speaker at the meet who had earlier said that small schools, which are now mushrooming in the city, did not have quality teachers because they could not afford to pay good salaries.

While all schools were not required to pay Rs 22,000 (the minimum basic salary as per the Sixth Pay Commission) to their teachers, there should be no compromise on the qualification of teachers, he added.

The minister’s new announcement indicates that private schools in the city may finally get a free hand in deciding teachers’ salaries and consequently the fees, much to the dismay of parents. There have been many protests against schools hiking their fees last year. After the Sixth Pay Commission was implemented in the second half of 2008, schools sought to hike their fee to generate revenue to pay the teachers more. Delhi government then formed the Bansal Committee to decide how much fee a school could be allowed to increase and issued a notification in this regard on February 11 last year.

According to section 9 of chapter IV of the Delhi School Education Act 1973, private schools need to pay salaries at a par with government schools. “The scales of pay and allowances, medical facilities, pension, gratuity, provident fund and other prescribed benefits of the employees of a recognized private school shall not be less than those of the employees of the corresponding status in schools run by the appropriate authority.”

However, according to Sibal, this act will be rendered ineffective from April 1. “Once the Right to Education (RTE) is implemented, the Delhi School Education Act will not apply.” RTE Act has already been notified.

On regulation of fees, Sibal referred to the T M Pai case saying, “The Supreme Court has also said that fees of private schools cannot be regulated and yet some state governments have passed such acts,” he told the teachers present.

The minister said he has also moved a malpractices bill under which all schools will have to give details of their infrastructure, number of students, salaries of teachers etc on their website. If the online information is found to be false, the school can be prosecuted.

As per the provisions of RTE, all unaided private schools operating in a city should be recognized. Sibal said that the bill did not aim at shutting down unrecognized schools. “Our purpose is to enhance infrastructure and quality of private unaided schools,” he said.

Neha Pushkarna,  The Times of India, Feb 20, 2010

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Sibal for easing norms to let small schools stay

Budget Private Schools, Right to Education, School Fee, Teacher salary, Unrecognized Schools

HRD minister Kapil Sibal has said that he was against profiteering by schools in the form of overcharging of fees or demanding capitation charges and made it clear that he was also keen to ensure that small schools do not face problems over recognition.

Briefing journalists on Saturday, Sibal said once the Right to Education Act comes into force from April 1, many small schools will have to get recognized by state governments within three years. Recognition will mean that they have to give state government salary to the teachers.

“If they give government salary many of these schools which impart quality education will close down. What will happen to poor children?” he asked. He said HRD ministry is likely to hold consultations with state governments to evolve a policy on how to give relaxation to marginalized schools to deal with conditions for registration.

Sibal said he would meet Delhi chief minister Shiela Dikshit on Monday to request her for reviewing the Delhi School Education Act, 1973, so that unrecognized schools do not have to raise salary as per government scale after getting recognition. The RTE Act is silent on fee and says that salary should be as per state government norms. As is the provision, in case a central law is silent on an issue, the state law prevails. In case there is a conflict between the central and state law, the central law prevails. Therefore, fee and salary are to be decided by state governments.

Arguing that even marginal schools will provide 25% reservation to poor children as prescribed by the RTE Act, Sibal said, “If they close down on account of teacher salary it will go against disadvantaged section. Why marginalize the marginal schools?”

Sibal also said 25% reservation might not be possible this year as admission in many states is already underway.

Apart from salary of teachers, Sibal said there are other issues on which HRD ministry will hold consultation with states. Even the requirement of playground, he said, is not easy to fulfill in urban areas.

The Times of India, 21 Feb 2010

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