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Schools told to make up for poor RTE intake in ’13

Reservation of seats, Right to Education

27-03-2014

The Times of India

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu has not even met half its targeted number of admissions in matriculation schools for the 2013-14 academic year under the 25% reservation clause of the Right To Free and Compulsory Education Act.

Matriculation schools across the state admitted only 40% of the 58,619 students from poor and underprivileged backgrounds that the state wanted to admit at the entry level class in private unaided schools.

And, more than one-fourth of the matriculation schools did not admit even one underprivileged student under the clause.

This admission by the government has come in the form of a warning to private unaided schools this year, just before the third year deadline of the RTE Act expires on April 1. A directorate of matriculation schools circular to matriculation schools and chief educational officers in various districts took a strong view of self-financing educational institutions failing to admit students under the Act.

“This record is not acceptable at any level. After the central government enacted the Act and the state government notified it and issued appropriate government orders, we continue to get complaints about schools not admitting students,” the circular said. Schools will have to make up for this in the coming academic year by filling up all 25% seats allocated for underprivileged children in the locality, it said.

Schools have been getting away with not meeting the 25% reservation target by claiming that nobody falling under the category had sought admission. The directorate has said it will not take no for an answer this time and has placed the onus on schools to publicise the availability of seats through local media.

Federation of Associations of Private Schools in Tamil Nadu secretary Elangovan D C said very few students and parents came to schools seeking admission under the clause last year. “The state must first confirm our reimbursements before making these demands on us. The reimbursements for last year’s admissions have still not come.”

Earlier, a senior school education department had said, “We have forwarded schools’ claims for reimbursement to the Centre, but they have not got back to us with the money. It’s going to be hard to convince schools to give admissions to underprivileged students this year if they don’t get last year’s refund.” The official said Tamil Nadu was among the few states that managed to get so many thousands of underprivileged students admitted in the school of their choice.

Schools have been told to calculate 25% of the intake at the entry level class, inform the district committee of the number of seats available for admission of underprivileged children and publish this number on their notice boards by April 2. Applications should be given out from May 3 to 9 and filled-in forms received within the week. Schools are to display admitted candidates’ names by May 14.

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25% Reservation: A perception study on its implementation and impact

Reservation of seats, Right to Education

Sana Kazi

With the enactment of the Right to Education Act (specifically Clause 12 i.e. the reservation of 25% of the entry-level seats in all private unaided schools for government-sponsored Economically Weaker Section (EWS) students and students from disadvantaged communities) the Indian Government has finally acknowledged the role of the private sector in providing Education for All.  Though the Act itself has been severely criticized on its lack of clarity and design; this clause in particular has brought about severe reactions from Indian society at large, especially from an ideological context.

At one end of the spectrum there are several people who have reacted positively to the idea behind this clause and are supportive of the fact that through the Act, the government has finally recognized and acknowledged the private sector’s role in the provision of quality education. What is most telling of this is the fact that the poorest in India choose these private schools over free government schools and are willing to spend substantial money on educating their children in these schools. Of all the enrolled children living below the poverty line, 14.8% of 5-10 year olds, 13.8% of 11-14 year olds and 7% of 15-17 year olds attended private school (Gandhi, G.  2007) and their parents spend between 6-11% of their income on education in these private schools (ASER, 2010). These numbers are a powerful testament to those policy makers who continue to believe that the private sector has no role in education.

However several segments of society strongly oppose the idea behind this clause, as they believe that by including a provision for government sponsored school places in private schools the government is shirking its constitutional obligation towards providing education and is instead transferring its responsibility to the private sector.

To understand the grievances and difficulties faced by the various stakeholders and; the social, economic and educational impact of the clause, the Centre for Civil Society conducted a perception study to understand its implementation and impact in four districts of Delhi. The study used in-depth interviews with parents, schools and government officials and focus group discussions with community groups to understand whether the clause is in fact achieving its objective of social justice.

The study reveals that in all of the 4 districts, awareness levels among EWS parents were generally low. Of the 162 EWS parents that were eligible to apply under Clause 12, over 56% did not apply as they were either unaware of this provision or were aware but did not know what the application procedure involved despite the presence of a number of private schools within a 2-5 km radius. However, those that were unaware but eligible were keen to learn more about the RTE and the admission process so that they could enroll their children in private schools. Of the parents that were aware, both fee-paying parents and EWS parents were fairly concerned about integration issues between their children. The perception of fee-paying parents was that the government-sponsored children would feel out of place and that they would not be able to cope with the studies. However, no child reported exclusion issues during the course of this study.

The biggest concern for schools was the lack of clarity about the reimbursement amount and schedule. While slightly higher budget schools (minimum monthly fee is Rs. 1000) were concerned that the reimbursement amount was too low, low budget schools (minimum monthly fee is less than Rs. 500) were satisfied with the reimbursement amount but were more anxious about the regularity of the reimbursement.

Most government officials were fairly satisfied with the implementation of this clause since it was the first year of implementation. However; they did feel that the targeting and sourcing of beneficiaries needed to be more streamlined. Moreover they felt that some amount of publicity was needed so that the beneficiaries were aware of the scheme and that none of the seats reserved under this provision remained vacant.

While the Act is a step in the right direction; there is an absence of clear policy guidelines and support structure from the government. However in its current form, this clause is facing opposition from schools because of the lack of clarity about the reimbursement procedure and from fee-paying parents because of the perceived integration issues. Several changes need to be made in terms of increasing awareness levels, streamlining the selection and admission process and clearly defining reimbursement amounts, calculation methods and timelinesIf implemented correctly, Clause 12 of the RTE Act can help create access to quality education and more importantly, provide marginalized children with the ability to choose their own schools.

This blog was originally published on Spontaneous Order.

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RTE: Learning outcomes more important than syllabus completion

Learning Achievements, Reservation of seats, Vouchers

Business Recorder

31-01-2014

Meet Dr Parth Shah! He is an economist by profession who taught at the University of Michigan-Dearborn (US) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (India) between 1992 and 1998. In 1997, Dr Shah founded India’s top think tank called Centre for Civil Society (CCS).

Ranked amongst the world’s top 50 think tanks by ‘The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Programme’ at the University of Pennsylvania, CCS focuses on policy research and advocacy, with education on top of the list. CCS’s other areas of focus relate to economic freedom, livelihood, good governance and environment. The think tank is also credited with the launch of India’s first private-sector led education voucher scheme.

Dr Shah was visiting Pakistan on a tight schedule last week, when he managed to squeeze in an interview with BR Research between a roundtable on education voucher held by PRIME institute, Islamabad, sightseeing to Lok Virsa and a flight to Lahore for his eventual way back home.

THE FOLLOWING IS THE EDITED TRANSCRIPT: BR Research: You mentioned earlier at the roundtable that there is no fixed model of having an education voucher scheme. But, what if you were to generalise the factors that made certain programmes successful and others a failure?

Parth Shah: The biggest factor that plays a role in the success is the design of the programme. Voucher schemes are something you have to put in the existing system, so how you design the programme conceptually and how you implement it are critical. Second factor is how it aligns with the incentives of the people who are going to be administrating it. The third thing is commitment from the political system to make the programme successful.

BRR: What are the design elements common to most successful voucher schemes? PS: In general, the vouchers are customised to each area. For example, in some voucher programmes, there is no top-up allowed, which means you can only go to a school that charges exactly what the voucher amount is. And there are quite a few programmes which have no top-up policy.

The voucher design depends on many factors, the primary ones being the type of problem that you are trying to address by introducing vouchers and who is the key beneficiary of the programme. In addition to the design, there are differences in implementation. For example, if you have a robust IT system in the education department, then you don’t have to issue a physical voucher; you can just issue a number that can be verified across the terminals.

BRR: One practical challenge has been the identification of the beneficiaries. What has been India’s experience in this regard?

PS: Selecting the group of beneficiaries has always been a challenge. You can use the database of those who are pre-qualified as below or around the poverty line. That’s the first place to start.

There is a huge debate in India about how to identify the poor. People say if you include the wrong people: that’s less of a worry: at least all the deserving people are getting benefits, at the cost of only a few wrong people getting those benefits. But, if you exclude the right people, then it is a perverse system.

India is thinking along the lines that instead of defining who they are: you try to define who they are not. For instance, those who pay income tax are not qualified for the voucher scheme, and those who own a car or have credit cards do not qualify either. So, we keep excluding people from the general population over a period of time, and as these different datasets become better, our targeting would improve, without excluding anyone who is supposed to get the benefit.

BRR: Can private sector philanthropists, foundations and high net worth individuals roll out their voucher schemes in their respective localities? Has there been any experiment to integrate government voucher scheme with private sector philanthropy?

PS: It is a good idea, but it is not being done so far in the education sector. In the US, several privately-funded programmes exist. In India, we have a voucher programme in vocational training for skill development. Currently, this pilot programme is being run by the CCS in the state of Maharashtra. Through this platform you can come as an individual or you can come as a corporate and say, for example, that you run a refinery in this area and you want to ensure that every child in this area over the age of 15 has access to vocational training. You can give money to the voucher platform then that runs the programme on your behalf. A similar programme could be tried in education.

BRR: There are provisions in the Indian right to education law that private schools should ensure that at least 25 percent of their primary class strength belongs to poor and disadvantaged class and that the government will pay for their tuition via voucher scheme. How does this work and what are its intended and unintended consequences?

PS: In a sense, it’s the victory of the voucher idea that finally the government has realised that public money can go to private schools and support students. This is what the 25 percent scheme is about.

At the same time, I don’t like the idea of making it mandatory. The government should have kept it voluntary by proposing that “we are willing to offer you this much money per student, and from this group of students you can choose which students you want to admit in your school”.

When the government made it mandatory, the high-fee schools from around the country went to the Supreme Court and fought a long and hard battle on the premise that this is infringement of the right to practise their trade.

But, the Supreme Court decided that their argument wasn’t good enough because the government does require mandatory behaviour by businesses in other areas–such as hiring quotas, or quotas on higher education medical and engineering seats–and, therefore, it was ruled constitutionally valid.

BRR: Tell us a little more about your concerns with this 25 percent mandatory requirement!

PS: The thing is that some schools don’t really want it, and neither do rich parents. So, there is a threat to those students who are going to be enrolled in the scheme. The school might take those students because the law says it must, but it can discriminate against these poor students. Who will watch over these millions of students admitted under the scheme? The law is not going to protect all the time. So, a situation has been created where the supposed beneficiaries could inadvertently be harmed–the law of unintended consequences!

Schools need to be pro-active in integrating these students academically and socially. If the school is not pro-active, I really worry that in 2-3 years’ time, many of these kids may drop out for one reason or the other. It could be because of the adverse behaviour by the school, or because of the students’ realisation of the social gap, or simply because they will not be able to keep up with the remaining students, whose parents are educated, who have extra tuitions at home, etc.

BRR: How would making the requirement voluntary help?

PS: Making it voluntary would have mitigated some of these problems. That way, the school would have aligned itself with the requirements, it would have been ready for the change, the teachers and parents would have been ready, and there would have been a consensus already built within the school that the administration is going to do their best to ensure that these kids do well in their school. The school then works for the poor student, not against her.

Many use the example of forced integration of whites and blacks in the US and argue that compulsion is necessary to change social attitudes and practices. If you look closely, what happened in the US was that when the law outlawed racial selection at the school level, the racial selection changed to the neighbourhood level. People chose neighbourhoods that were white or black, so the discrimination in choosing the school just shifted to the discrimination in choosing the home.

BRR: Both India and Pakistan have passed the right to education laws. Do you consider education a right in the same sense as a right to life and property or would you have a different notion for it?

PS: At the philosophical level, there is an important distinction between rights and entitlements which is getting blurred. I would use the language of entitlements instead of rights for education or healthcare or employment. So, this is an entitlement that you are getting from the society. It’s not your right in the sense as is your right to life, liberty and property.

BRR: What does the right imply and where does the responsibility lie?

PS: Normally, it is the parents’ responsibility. That is how the world has been, except for the last century or so. But, in the rights’ language, it is the state’s responsibility.

BRR: Can the state force the kids to school?

PS: In Pakistan, yes. In India we don’t have any penalty for parents if their children are not in school. In the first draft of the RTE Act of India, the provision of penalty was there. There were monetary fines followed by prison; but we removed that clause.

If it is the child’s right given by the state, then, naturally, it is the state’s responsibility to ensure that children are in school–by making the school engaging and meaningful to children and parents.

In Pakistan, the RTE laws of Islamabad and Sindh both have penal clauses–monetary fine of about Rs 50,000. So, you have got to ask yourself: on one hand, the parents are so poor that they can’t send the child to school and now you are asking that poor parent to pay Rs 50,000 fine?!

BRR: What are you other findings about Pakistani laws?

PS: I am concerned about the requirement to complete the curriculum by the teacher. Both Pakistani and Indian laws say that the teacher has the obligation to complete the syllabus, which I think is the worst thing one can possibly do, at least in the primary education.

In primary education, the focus should be whether the child is able to read or not, whether she/he can do the maths or not that. Completing the syllabus does not really matter if the child cannot read nor can do elementary maths.

The legal requirements of making sure that teacher completes the syllabus are perverse. They undermine the larger purpose of education. What they should judge instead is the students’ ability to read and comprehend. The important thing is learning outcomes.

Then, quality is also talked about in the Pakistan laws. But, there is no independent definition of quality. So, I may guarantee you quality education; but what does that quality actually mean? Defining minimum standards of quality is important–and assessment of students should be based on those standards.

BRR: What does “free” mean and include in Indian RTE laws?

PS: It means that the tuition is free across the board. The rest varies from state to state depending upon their respective fiscal strengths. Some states also provide text books, note books. In addition to that, some states provide midday meals, uniforms and winter jerseys, while some of the states also provide transport.

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RTE Admission Process Begins Today

Reservation of seats

The New Indian Express

06-01-2014

The process to admit students under the Right to Education Act (RTE) for the year 2014-15 will begin from Monday.

As per the calendar of events released by the Department of Public Instructions, block education officers (BEOs) across the State will release the list of availability of seats under the Act for the next academic year. Following that, interested and eligible candidates can apply.

The applications to fill seats under the RTE quota will be received from January 7 to February 8. The verification of applications will be done till February 17 and the verified applications will be submitted to the respective BEOs.

BEOs must submit the list of the selected candidates to the schools on February 28 and the admission process will begin from March 3.

Parents can download the applications through www.schooleducation.com or pick them up from BEO’s office free of cost.

Highlights

Parents whose annual income is less than `3.5 lakh can apply. First preference will be given to those whose annual income is less than `1 lakh. If the number of applicants is more, seats will be allotted by lottery

Out of 25 per cent of RTE seats, 7.5 per cent is for SCs, three per cent for STs, three per cent for physically challenged, two per cent for HIV affected and 16 per cent for OBCs.

Details of RTE Seats

In 2013-14, there was a huge demand for RTE seats across the State. The total number of applications received under the RTE Act was 1,58,151, while the available seats were 1,08,344. As many as 58,525 students had applied for pre-nursery schools and 24,240 secured admission. Out of 99,626 applications for first standard, 48,859 were selected. As many as 35,236 seats remained vacant.

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Iffy future for RTE online admission

Reservation of seats

Times of India

31-1-2013

PUNE: The ambitious project of the state education department to conduct admissions in a centralised and online manner for 25% reserved seats in schools under the Right to Education (RTE) Act may not take off for the second consecutive year.

The delay is due to some ‘strategic decisions’ on the choice of schools and distance from the residence of applicants waiting for the sate government’s approval.

Mahavir Mane, director of school education (primary), said, “A report on what the project would be and its feasibility has been submitted to the state through the education commissioner. However, we are clueless as to when it will get approval.”

The Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Limited (MKCL) has been given a contract to develop a separate portal to execute the admissions. The MKCL authorities said technical aspects are ready to go online. “Some decisions that are need in the portal are pending with the education department. Once they are decided, we can ready the website for the 2014-15 academic year,” an official said.

The official added, “Schools will also have to show online that the applicant has been admitted. If the school fails to admit any student, the education officer monitoring the admission process can take action. So, transparency will be maintained which was the prime aim of making the admission process online.”

Online advantage

The project will be a replica of junior college admissions conducted online in the Mumbai division. A separate portal would be developed where applicants can fill the forms with names, place of residence, names of schools in the area or those that are eligible for reserved RTE seats rule and list of required documents.

The application will be submitted online and after a stipulated date, allotments would be done through a computerised lottery system. Applicants can log in to the website and check the list.

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Only a few admissions under RTE are genuine

Reservation of seats

6-Dec-2013

The Hindu

Very few of the students admitted in private schools in Coimbatore under the Right To Education Act (RTE) have been found to be eligible for the quota created for weaker sections by this legislation. The Department of School Education, in its response to a Right To Information application filed by Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s youth wing secretary V. Easwaran, said that 19,971 students were admitted under the RTE Act quota in private schools across Tamil Nadu. Qualified However, Mr. Easwaran said that through RTI query, it was found that very few of the students were qualified to be admitted under the rules specified in G.O. No: 60, issued on April 1, which dealt with admissions under RTE quota. Using an RTI query, he said admission forms of students admitted in eight schools were collected. Of the 263 students admitted under the quota, only 25 had the proper documents. Income limit ?Even though the Act fixes an annual income limit of Rs. 2 lakh for parents to qualify for the quota, we found that many applicants had stated income above this level. In fact, we came across cases where the income mentioned was Rs. 7 lakh.? The Department of School Education had not scrutinised the documents submitted by the private schools and had blindly accepted their information, he alleged. Mr. Easwaran met Collector Archana Patnaik on this issue and demanded that the Department of School Education be directed to scrutinise all the admissions made under RTE Act in Coimbatore schools and ascertain the genuine candidates. Though he did not seek the cancellation of admissions already made, he said that the Government must reimburse to the private schools, only the fees for students found to be genuine. A single window system will ensure transparency in RTE Act admissions, he added. When contacted, R. Visalakshi, president of Tamil Nadu Private Schools Association told The Hindu that under the RTE Act, the schools must have been reimbursed the fees twice a year ? in September and December. Fee reimbursement However, in the two years since the Act’s implementation, the fee of even a single student had not been reimbursed by the Government. While schools are willing to admit students under the quota, they believe that the financial viability would be threatened if they did not receive fees for a quarter of the total students, as mandated by the RTE Act. She urged the parents to take up this issue with the Government.

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Five benefits of 25% reservation in private schools to Government

Reservation of seats

Abhishek Bhattacharya

Associate, Advocacy

School Choice Campaign

As per section 12 of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 private schools have to reserve twenty-five percent of their seats at the entry level (class I or nursery) for weaker sections and disadvantaged groups. Here are five unstated benefits of section 12 to the Government.

Public financing v public delivery

Evidence of learning outcomes shows that private delivery of education is much better than public delivery. If the government realises this, it will move towards public financing with private delivery. The parents should be given an option to choose between private delivery and public delivery. Competition would ensure that only the best schools survive while the poor quality ones get eliminated.

There is a rise in demand for private schooling underscored by the fact that private share in enrolment is increasing by one percentage point every year. If the government could somehow finance this demand, it would no doubt be a good tactic to please your electorate. It should cash in this win-win opportunity and go for further public financing expanding the choices of poor parents.

Cost savings

The government reimburses the actual amount charged by private schools to each child or the per-child expenditure notified by the government, whichever is less. Most of the private schools are budget private schools which charge fees much lower than the notified per-child expenditure. For example, the per-child expenditure of Delhi government is Rs. 1,190 per month whereas a large number of schools, in fact as per an internal analysis, almost 80-85% of private schools charge much lower – in the range of Rs. 200-600.

Therefore, the total outgo of the government is much lower than it would be had all the EWS students studied in government schools. Because these families voluntarily chose private schooling, the oft repeated remark-“government is shirking its responsibility” doesn’t hold water.

More cost savings

The government has chosen to ignore both the capital expenditure that goes in opening a school and the administrative machinery employed to manage schools while calculating the per-child expenditure. The recurring expenditure is divided by the number of enrolled children to obtain the per-child expenditure. The exact formula is shrouded in secrecy; our RTI queries elicited no response.

Although this has deflated the reimbursement value, private schools (except elite schools) are still able to factor in their capital expenditure within the reimbursement amount. In other words, private schools manage their resources much more efficiently. If only the reimbursements reached on time, the private schools will wholeheartedly accept this great school choice experiment.

Preventive wastage of expenditure

In order to fulfil its promise of one hundred percent enrolment under the Right to Education Act, the government is opening new schools all over the country in every neighbourhood. However, the birth rate is declining and the proportion of population in the age group of 0-14 years to total population has declined from 37.5% in 2001 to 29.8% in 2011 as per World Bank data.

Few years later, the huge capital expended on opening new schools would prove wasteful if there aren’t enough children to enrol. The most efficient way to prevent this is to hand out vouchers to parents who can choose to access private schooling. Since the demand for private schooling is on the rise, it can be safely assumed that these vouchers will be availed. Nevertheless, it is still worth trying.

The market is much quicker to respond to fluctuations in demand than the government. Influx of voucher-bearing parents would lead to expansion of private delivery. In later years, when the demand drops, supply will contract as fast; private schools of course need not worry about offending teacher unions.

Expansion of private education

The reservation of 25% of the seats in private schools has pushed out 25% of general category children who would otherwise have availed private education. These children represent an unmet demand. This demand will be satiated by market expansion – the private education market would require up to 33% expansion. (Out of 133 seats, 25% i.e. 33 seats will be reserved and the remaining 100 seats would be available for the general category.)

This expansion is inevitable and government should facilitate it rather than hindering it with onerous recognition norms. Moreover, this private expansion is a boon since it frees up the judicious taxpayer’s money for use in areas where the productivity of government is higher.

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Immeasurability: 25 % reservation under Section 12 of the RTE Act

Reservation of seats

Arvind Ilamaran

Associate, Research

Centre for Civil Society

The Section 12 of Right to Education (RTE) Act provides 25 per cent reservation to children from weaker sections of the society in private schools. The professed dual purpose of this regulation was to increase the institutional capacity to absorb more out-of-school children (provide access to education) and to create a socially inclusive society by facilitating the mixing of kids from all sections of society within the classroom.

For the former, there is a lot of support and a lot of opposition. Given that there is a lot of literature, both academic and non-academic, in the public discourse on the need to increase the institutional capacity, I will focus on the latter purpose i.e. –facilitating social inclusion.

From the moment advocates of Section 12 of RTE started using the words ‘social inclusion’ in their justification for imposing the norm on private sector schools, there has been a significant amount of commentary on whether or not it is possible to achieve social inclusion within the school’s ecosystem through the reservation. A multitude of explanations has been provided by both the proponents and opponents of Section 12. But what is visibly lacking in the discussion is a reflection on what social inclusion means and how we are we going to measure it.

The different governments of the country have been known for enacting legislation without a clear understanding of how they operate at the grass root level. Lack of such knowledge makes it improbable that they will be able to conduct a credible impact assessment of such policies and plan their phasing away in due time. The same is the problem with Section 12. From a positive action point of view, the advocates make a claim of social inclusion by its enforcement. What they essentially claim is that physical inclusion of children from various sections of society into the classroom will ensure their social integration. To facilitate the same, the advocates provide a toolkit of supplementary measures such as teaching aides and other forms of physical inputs to bridge the gap. But the larger narrative is the provision and facilitation of physical factors to achieve social inclusion, for which there is no credible supporting scientific evidence.

Academic research in education has shown that school leadership plays a vital role in ensuring quality education. While to a certain extent this can be captured by good processes, people in the leadership roles contribute greatly to keep the downstream workforce motivated enough to deliver through various incentives and disincentives. With respect to RTE, this observation becomes all the more pertinent because all sections of the legislation are enforced and do not provide an opportunity for voluntary participation of the private schools. No public policy can succeed unless the structural change facilitated by the policy is preceded, or at least accompanied by, a social change. Unless the facilitating agents–namely the school administration, teachers and other staff in the school–have an innate drive to foster social inclusion, they do not have any other form of tangible incentives (or disincentives) to do so.

The greatest fallacy of a policy maker is to make policies that cannot be evaluated for its impact. The same is the problem with Section 12 of the RTE Act. The downside of this immeasurability is that one is unable to find when the policy has either succeeded or failed its professed objectives. Also the immeasurability makes it difficult to put a sunset clause on the policy which makes them immortal and a dead-weight if they are poorly designed.

A social change enforced by policy most often fails in achieving its goals. The only way to create positive social change through public policy is to simultaneously create supporting institutions with the near-optimal incentives and disincentives. Such institutions and incentive frameworks require measurability and close observation of the policy’s impact. It is high time that measurability of social inclusion becomes part of the larger discussion on its implementation issues.

 

Comment

Schools say RTE quotas breed indiscipline: Survey

Reservation of seats

Times of India

11- 10-2013

AHMEDABAD: A survey on the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act-2009 says that many principals feel that the weaker sections (WS) quota is lowering the quality of schools as their seats are being given away to the “undeserving” and the “ungrateful”.

The survey, carried out by a faculty member of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) for a working paper, reveals that 43 per cent principals of the 36 schools surveyed, think that children from the weaker sections often have discipline-related issues. Thirty-one per cent felt that WS children frequently use abusive language. Schools included in the survey sample were from states across the country. All identified themselves as unaided recognized private schools.

“They behave like hooligans and often engage in stealing and using abusive language. ‘Our’ children don’t want to sit with them and our teachers come and cry in front of us because of them,” one of the principals told the researchers for the working paper titled, ‘Quotas under RTE: Leading towards an egalitarian education system?’ by IIM-A faculty Ankur Sarin and independent researcher Swati Gupta.

However, such views are not necessarily universally shared. About 25 per cent of the principals felt that poor children very often stole from classmates. However, a larger 43 per cent felt that this is rarely or never the case. Similarly, while 52 per cent were of the view that WS parents were rarely or never difficult to deal with, 33 per cent stated that this was the case very often or always. Further, 64 per cent of the principals agreed that fee-paying children also have a great deal to learn from children belonging to WS.

The study has been carried out on the resistance to one of the most controversial aspects of the RTE, which is that private schools admit at least 25 per cent of the children in class 1 or pre-school, from weaker sections and disadvantaged groups in the neighbourhood.

Moreover, they are to be provided free and compulsory education till its completion.

Asked to rate problems that they anticipate or are currently facing in integrating WS children, 46 per cent principals rated ‘financial constraints’ as a ‘major’ problem. Eighty two per cent principals said that the government should bear the financial burden of RTE quotas.

Times View

Integrating children from weaker sections of society into mainstream education is a noble cause that schools can’t shy away from. They have a bigger role to perform in society than operate as mere factories churning out students with high grades. No one expected the process of integration under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act to be smooth. There are bound to be teething troubles in a project of this scale. The authorities should try to smoothen out the rough edges.

Comment

Private schools threaten to defy RTE rules

Budget Private Schools, Reservation of seats, Right to Education

The New Indian Express

14-10-2013

From the next academic year, private schools in the state may not admit children under the RTE (Right to Education) quota. The schools have taken a decision to this effect following delay in the government releasing reimbursement towards 25 per cent of seats they have provided under the quota.

“We cannot continue to cooperate with the  state government in implementing the RTE Act from next academic year, unless the government addresses our issues,’’  L R Shivarame Gowda, president of Karnataka Private Schools – Joint Action Committee (KAP-JAC) told Express.

“We have extended complete cooperation and support in implementing RTE in the state effectively. But the authorities are least bothered about our problems and are not addressing our issues which we cannot tolerate,” Shivarame Gowda said.

As per the data available from KAP-JAC, the state government has to release around `65 crore to private schools as the first installment towards the seats they have given under RTE. The deadline for releasing the reimbursement was September 30, 2013 and for second installment it is January 2014.

‘’We have not received any communication from the government side. The government does not have the courtesy to call the managements and find out the ground reality. It is not that easy to run an education institution. When we have accepted RTE Act and joined hands with government in implementing it, the government should know its responsibilities,’’ said D Shashi Kumar, convener of KAP-JAC.

Last year, members of KAP-JAC met the Education Minister four times, principal secretary to Primary and Secondary Education twice and the Commissioner for Public Instructions three times and made their representations.

There are over 16,000 private schools in the state (except minority schools) including CBSE, ICSE. A major number of them are in the cities like Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, Shimoga and Hubli-Dharwad.

The government had fixed a reimbursement of `11,800 per child. In 2012-13, government released half of the reimbursement and in 2013-14 (current year), it has not released anything. According KAP-JAC, this year (2013-14) around 70,000 seats in private schools were given under RTE and the reimbursement for 40,000 seats of 2012-13 is pending.

What if private schools refuse to provide seats under rte quota?

If the private schools refuse to provide RTE seats, then every year around 1.10 lakh children will lose the benefit of getting seats in private schools. It would also amount to a violation of the Act. According to school managements, though it is Central government policy and children have right to free and compulsory education, the state government should be supportive to private schools. “The Government has transferred its responsibility to private schools and is not providing financial assistance to schools. If the government continues to delay the release of funds, we are even ready to fight it legally,” said another member of KAP-JAC.

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