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230 million kids enrolled in schools under RTE: Pallam Raju

Reservation of seats

Hyderabad

September 20, 2013

Zee News

As many as 230 million children have been enrolled in schools due to the efforts of the Centre under the Right to Education Act, Union Human Resource Development Minister MM Pallam Raju said here on Friday.
“The government has focused on creating capacity in education in the last few years and has achieved reasonable success, though there are many miles to go,” he said.
“As many as 230 million children have been enrolled in schools due to the efforts of the Centre under the RTE Act,” he added.
Pallam Raju was speaking at the inauguration of the Aga Khan Academy on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
Lauding the efforts of the Aga Khan, the Union Minister said that efforts in various spheres have contributed immensely to the development of India.
The Aga Khan and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy were present on the occasion.
The Aga Khan Academy, Hyderabad, is part of a global network of schools founded with a view to providing quality education.

The academy provides education according to the highest international standards to meritorious boys and girls regardless of their socio-economic background.
The academy in Hyderabad is built on a 100-acre site donated by the state government.

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No takers for over 37,000 RTE seats

Reservation of seats

Times of India

07-08-2013

BANGALORE:

For this academic year (2013-14), Karnataka set aside 1,08,344 seats for the 25% quota under the Right to Education (RTE) Act. But, at the end of the admission season, there are no takers for over 37,000 seats (34%) of these seats.

Although 1,54,811 applications poured in all the 10,913 aided and non-minority institutions, the final admission statistics revealed that many applicants didn’t join.

The 25% quota was split between disadvantaged groups and the economically weaker sections (EWS). Of the 25%, SCs were to get 7.5% and STs 1.5%. The remaining 16% was assigned to nine disadvantaged groups and the EWS. But the final allocation paints a different picture altogether. While 9,750 seats should have gone to SC/STs taking into consideration the total number of seats available, this group has got 21,676 seats.

Experts blame the vacant seats on the negative attitude of private schools and vague instructions by the education department. “Parents seeking admission under RTE were harassed to such an extent that many opted to stay out of the process. I know of several cases where parents were sent back and forth from schools to Block Education Officers and then back to schools, just to submit admission forms. Schools used different weapons to put off parents. Some made false claims of being minority institutions, some came up with problems like age and fake income certificates and the rest charged exorbitant amounts for school uniforms and books,” says Nagasimha G Rao, convener, RTE Task Force.

VP Niranjan Aradhya, fellow, Centre for Child and the Law, NLSIU, said, “Schools’ non-cooperation is to blame. We’re not creating an inclusive environment. Accessibility to private schools is so difficult that the purpose of RTE gets killed.”

The number of unfilled seats is worrying. “It’s a huge number. When Navodaya Vidyalayas were introduced, a series of street shows and other advertising strategies were used and they became popular. The government has not advertised RTE well,” said Nagasimha.

According to the education department, unfilled seats will neither be given to the school management nor will be filled through admissions. “The seats will remain vacant. Admission dates will not be extended to fill up seats,” said A Devprakash, director, primary education.

Fake income certificates

The problem of fake income certificates which derailed RTE objectives still continues. The principal of a city school got a shock while going through the admission forms of students under the RTE quota — the income certificate of one student showed ‘0’ in the annual income section.

“The certificates we have received give an impression they have been issued by authorities with eyes shut. We analysed 502 income certificates from our member schools and 275 showed annual income of either Rs 10,000 or Rs 12,000. One applicant came with two different income certificates for the same child! We handed over 15 such samples to the education department for action,” said D Shashi Kumar, secretary, Karnataka Private Schools Joint Action Committee.

RTE this year

Category – No. of seats

SC — 17,491

ST – 4,185

OBC – 49,067

Seats taken – 70,746

Seats vacant – 37,601

Source: Education department

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No final date for quota admissions

Reservation of seats, Right to Education

01 August 2013

Times of India

MUMBAI: Confusion surrounding admissions to schools under the reservation quota as prescribed by the Right to Education Act is far from over. To end the confusion, the education department finally released a notice on July 30, making it clear that there is no deadline for admissions to the RTE reserved category seats and that schools can’t convert these seats into open category seats.

When TOI contacted J S Saharia, additional chief secretary of school education, he made it clear that the schools as well as the state education department have to follow every clause under the RTE. “The Act clearly states that it is the school’s responsibility to ensure that 25% of their seats are to be filled by students from the economically/socially backward classes of society. Therefore, these seats cannot be given to students in the general category,” said Saharia. He added the education department has released a notice (July 30) to clear all doubts about RTE admissions. The notice is published on the education department’s website.

Officials also pointed out that most seats in the reserved category are left vacant in vernacular medium schools. “In most zones, there are a handful of vacant seats in English medium schools. The Act is clear that admissions to the reserved category can go on till the end of the first semester,” said an official from the education department.

Schools also pointed that the education department has been very strict about admissions under the RTE quota and has formed special teams to investigate the admission process in every school. “Education inspectors conduct surprise visits to schools and particularly check if 25% seats have been filled by appropriate candidates. Some schools have been pulled up in the past for the same reason,” said Fr Francis Swamy, principal of Holy Family High School, Andheri (E).

“The education department had orally announced that the last date of admissions is July 31 but we never received any circular making it official. Now, we are awaiting the latest circular,” said Ramakant Pandey, principal of Bansidhar Aggarwal School in Wadala.

Comment

Educating India: Choice, autonomy and learning outcomes

Access to education, Autonomy, Budget Private Schools, Reservation of seats, Right to Education

Oxford India Policy Series

17-07-2013

Parth J. Shah

The Indian education system does not effectively promote the prior right of parents to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children. This column argues that the degree of freedom of not just parents, but also of school principals, teachers and education providers is a key determinant of quality and equity in education. It outlines reforms to promote the right to ‘education of choice’.

The Article 26 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights 1948 deals with education and has three clauses the first demands free and compulsory elementary education, the second sets the goal of education to “promote understanding, tolerance, and friendship among all nations, racial and religious groups”, and the third clause states that “parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children”. This idea of parental choice has always been an important component of the Right to Education (RTE), but is hardly ever mentioned in the current debates on education reforms in India.

The education system does not effectively promote parental choice. This lack of choice or the lower degree of freedom is at the heart of our education problems.  The degree of freedom of not just parents but also of principals, teachers and education providers (‘edu-preneurs’) is the most critical determinant of quality and equity in education. All parents do not get to choose the school, principals and teachers in government get to choose the system but not the school, and ‘edu-preneurs’ cannot choose their own curricula, language of instruction, or whether to be non-profit or for-profit. In this column, I outline my suggestions for education reforms. These revolve around the idea of choice for parents, principals, teachers and ‘edu-preneurs’ (Shah and Miranda 2012).

1. Increase autonomy of state schools
Education departments of the government minutely control government schools. The schools have hardly any autonomy to manage their affairs. They are closest to the students and parents, and should have the necessary freedom to adjust their functioning so that they are better able to cater to the changing needs. The principals and teachers must be empowered and given the freedom that their private school counterparts enjoy; they cannot be expected to compete with both hands tied behind their back.
The principals should be education leaders, not just administrators. Government schools should hire teachers directly, not through the state education department (Pritchett and Pande 2006).  The salaries and perks for teachers should be set by the state, but hiring and performance assessment should be done at the school level.This would help make principals genuine leaders of their schools, with all the staff accountable to them.
Financial autonomy for schools/ principals is critical. However, the current method of funding government schools through lump sum grants against various heads of expenditures leaves little discretion (Accountability Initiative 2012). Moreover, it is very common that government schools with the same number of students get widely different funding from the state. This inequity in funding is inhumane and unjust. Funding based on the number of students in the school addresses these issues effectively. The per-student funding approach would provide strong incentives to schools to work hard to attract and retain students. It would also make it easier to tie funding with performance – an increment in the school grant can be tied to learning achievement of students.
All private schools aided by the government can be immediately switched to this per-student formula. For government schools, it may be easier to require that all new schools be funded on a per-student basis. The principals and teachers of existing schools could have the option to switch to the new system that would also offer them more autonomy.
To help schools assess their performance, and also help parents to make an informed choice, the government should conduct or contract an independent agency for annual learning outcome assessment (including private schools).  The entire assessment data, along with information on infrastructure, staff, and financial allocations should be placed in the public domain, preferably online.  Private schools, just like companies, should be required to provide similar data so that relevant data about all schools would be available to parents in one place.
These reforms would give more autonomy to government schools, principals, and teachers, and also increase accountability.
 
2. Provide access to aspirational schools
The government of Uttaranchal has been running a scheme called Pahal where street children go to higher-fee private schools. In more than four years of the programme, a majority of the enrolled children have remained in the school. This is in contrast with the high dropout rates seen in earlier annual enrollment drives that brought children to government schools. This has been seen in the Delhi Voucher Project (CMS 2009, CCS 2009) as well as in many voluntary efforts.
The aspirational schools don’t have to be private schools – many government schools would also serve the purpose. They don’t have to be high-fee private schools – budget performing schools (BPS) such as Delhi Public Schools and Deepayala schools–are equally aspirational for many poor parents. So the scope is much wider than it may appear at first.
Marginalised and specific under-served groups such as migrant children, out of school children, street children, girl children, Scheduled Caste (SC)/ Scheduled Tribe (ST)/ Other Backward Classes (OBC), minorities such as Muslim children, differently-abled children, children of the poor, refugees, migrating tribes, prisoners and orphans are most likely to be left behind by the education system. Empowering them to go to aspirational schools through vouchers, cash transfers or charter/ community schools would be more effective for their educational achievements (Shah and Braun-Munzinger 2006; Saavendra and Garcia 2012).
The RTE Act has already reserved 25% seats in private schools to socially and economically disadvantaged students, for which the government would pay private schools. The challenge is to design a transparent, fair and accountable method to implement the 25% so that right students are selected, their learning outcomes are tracked, and also ensure that private schools are paid in time (Shah 2012).

The RTE’s recognition of the power of aspirational schools should be extended to go beyond the 25% reservation for the disadvantaged, starting first with the most marginalised and under-served children.

3. Make learning outcomes the central focus of regulation
The whole focus of RTE is on schooling inputs – ‘learning outcome’ or learning achievement’ does not appear even once in the whole Act on quality education for all! For brevity, I enumerate key reforms for making learning outcomes the primary focus of education regulations.
i. Conduct annual independent learning outcome assessment.

ii. Empower School Management Committees to monitor learning outcomes and take necessary action to achieve their targets. iii. Recognition of low fee, budget schools should be based more on learning outcomes than infrastructure norms. The Gujarat RTE Rules assign 85% weightage to learning and 15% to infrastructure norms.

iv. Open Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) exams to all students, not only for students who study in CBSE affiliated schools. If learning is the focus then it should not matter which school the student attended – the student should get CBSE certificate if she passes the same exam.
 
4. Encourage ‘edu-preneurs’ to promote quality and equity through choice and competition
The legal and moral obligation of the government is to assure, not deliver, education to every child.Any monopoly service provider is unlikely to be very concerned about the customer. The education monopoly would serve the interests of the providers (bureaucracy, teachers and staff), not of the end-users of the service (parents and students). Competition among providers is necessary (Coulson 2008).  It also offers choices to parents and students.  Parental choice is the best way to determine education quality and also to keep the pressure for continuous improvement in quality (Shah 2009).
Below are a few suggestions:
i. Make entry easier by rationalising the license raj.
ii. Declare education an ‘industry’ for easier access to credit and venture capital fund.
iii. Offer schools (and colleges) the choice to be non-profit or for-profit, and treat for-profit ones as companies for disclosure and taxation norms.
iv. Apply the same standards to private and government schools. According to the law, government schools must meet the same norms as private schools, but this may or may not happen in practice since the law does not require that a government school be closed down or penalised for failing to meet the norms. The children of the poor go to government schools. This means that the government worries about the education quality of the children of the rich by requiring private schools to meet its standards, but feels that the poor should be grateful that they at least have a school to go to. The government treats the children of the poor as second-class citizens. This inequity must end – government schools must meet the same standards of quality by going through the same process of recognition. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), as a monitor of RTE, could be put in charge of this process since the department of education itself should not be. 
 
Concluding thoughts
The key mindset change necessary to implement many of the reforms is the role of the state in education.  It needs to change from controller to facilitator, from producer to financier, and from inspector to informer.
The role of the government is to liberate the supply side (facilitator role), fund the demand of the poor through vouchers, cash transfers and charter/ community schools (financier role), inform about the quality of education in schools and empower parents to make their own choices that are right for their children (informer role).

The state’s mantra should be not just the right to education but right to education of choice.

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State mulling over centralising RTE admissions

Reservation of seats

Hindustan Times

July 18, 2013

 

In a step aimed at better implementation of the Right To Education (RTE) Act, the state school education department is considering centralising admissions under the 25% quota instead of leaving it to individual schools to conduct them.

Under the RTE Act (2009), all schools except those run by unaided minority trusts have to keep 25% seats reserved for students from economically weaker sections (EWS). If the new plan is implemented, the government will allot seats to students based on their area of residence.

School education minister Rajendra Darda confirmed the development. “The discussions are at a preliminary stage, but we feel that such a move will be beneficial in many ways,” Darda told Hindustan Times. “After we centralised FYJC admissions a few years ago, the process has become smooth and hassle-free.”

Centralising admissions will reduce the political pressure on schools, said city principals. “We face pressure from all sides during these admissions. Politicians and other influential people try to use their clout to admit candidates they favour,” said Anjana Prakash, principal of Hansraj Morarji Public School, Andheri.

Some feel that the move would lead to more enrolments under the RTE quota. “The government has a bigger database and better machinery to reach out to EWS students unlike schools, which have limited reach,” said Satish Lotlikar, managing trustee, Indian Education Society’s Manik Vidyamandir School, Bandra.

Experts opined that the admissions must be conducted online to ensure transparency. “Though lotteries are held in the presence of PTA members and education officers, schools can manipulate them by putting in multiple entries of favoured candidates. Online admissions will eliminate such loopholes,” said Jayant Jain, president of NGO Forum For Fairness in Education.

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More than 70% RTE seats go vacant in Nagpur division

Reservation of seats, Right to Education

11-Jul-2013

The Times of India

NAGPUR: Though the state government has been promoting 25% seats quota under Right To Education Act (RTE), the latest admission figures are discouraging. In the six districts of Nagpur division, about 71% seats under RTE are still vacant and the state government has reminded school managements they cannot give it to general category students. JSSaharia, additional chief secretary in charge of school education said, “The RTE clearly says 25% seats are to be filled only from specified category of students.”

Under the RTE’s 25% quota, there are a total 16,439 seats available in Nagpur division and till June 26 (school reopening day) only 4,712 of them had been filled. In Nagpur district, 55% of RTE seats remain vacant as only 2,605 students got admission against the available 5,788 seats. The worst performing district was Chandrapur as 95% of its seats remain vacant. The district had only 249 admissions the 4,743 seats available, and education officials in Nagpur have now asked the local officers there to provide reasons for this abysmal performance. Even backward Gadchiroli’s RTE statistics are healthier compared to Chandrapur with 87% seats remaining vacant. Only 215 students got admissions compared to 1,655 seats available in Naxalism affected district. At Bhandara district, the situation is only slightly better as 73% seats remain vacant with only 143 students getting admission out of 529 seats available. In Gondia, 65% seats remain vacant with 755 students admitted against 2,142 seats. Wardha equals Nagpur at the top of the table with 55% RTE seats vacant. Here, 725 students were admitted against 1,582 RTE seats. Education officials reasons for this are both “ignorance on part of parents and resistance from schools”. A staffer at the education office who deals with RTE admissions said, “Though RTE has been publicized to a great extent, it seems the category of people we are targeting have not understood it properly. Many complaints we received from parents ultimately turned out to be a result of them feeling that schools are obliging them by granting RTE seats. We keep telling parents RTE is their right and schools have no say in this. The other part is clearly the arrogance and resistance by school officials are under the impression that they can later fill these seats with paying general category students.” He went on to add that action can’t be taken on a majority of the schools because they are likely to reject RTE candidates on grounds such as distance, income etc. Officials hope state’s reminder to every school that RTE seats must remain vacant all through the year might just do the trick.

 

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Leave unfilled RTE seats vacant, Maharashtra tells schools

Reservation of seats, Right to Education

Times of India

Swati Shinde Gole,

July 4 2013

PUNE: The school education department has directed all schools to fill the 25% seats reserved under the Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act with students from economically backward sections of society or keep them vacant. The directive was issued on June 22 and is effective from the current academic year.

Last year, many schools had filled up seats that were left vacant after admissions under RTE with regular students, in violation of the act. The RTE Act mandates schools to reserve 25% of their total seats for students from economically weaker sections of society and the education department has been announcing the admission schedule for these seats since last year.

Officials said poor compliance to the rule has triggered the fresh directive. Mahavir Mane, director of school education (primary), said that schools are reluctant to fill seats reserved under RTE so that they can fill them later with regular students. “We have received feedback from our officers that some schools are avoiding giving admissions under the 25% reservation scheme. So the new directive was sent to all schools in the state.”

The education department had earlier issued a notice asking schools to keep their admissions open through the year and admit children from disadvantaged backgrounds as and when they apply for it. “Schools must continue the admission process until all their seats (reserved under RTE) are filled. They cannot run the admission process once and admit regular students to fill the vacant reserved seats. Also, schools will be reimbursed only for those seats that have been filled and not for all the reserved seats,” Mane said.

Education officers in every district will be conducting a monthly review of school admissions.

“Many schools have expressed their disappointment with the state’s directive, but the decision had to be taken due to their negligence towards filling up the seats reserved under RTE,” Mane said.

Mane said that while schools have been reporting 100% admissions under RTE, just about 25,000 seats of a total of 1.5 lakh seats had been filled under the scheme last year.

A secretary of a school management said, “We have been following the RTE rules and making sure that the admissions are conducted accordingly. However, there are some schools that are being negligent and we have to bear the brunt.”

A school principal said, “We have been pleading with non-governmental organizations (NGO) which are working among the economically poor and urging them to send students to our school so that we fill the seats. We do not want to flout any norms, yet we will suffer losses due to the state’s decision.”

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CCE is aimed at changing teaching: CBSE chairman Vineet Joshi

Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation, Private schools, Reservation of seats

Times of India

13-june-2013

 

Be it  Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE), or the newly introduced Open Text Based Assessment, the Central government’s aim is to improve the education system, says  CBSE chairman Vineet Joshi. During his visit to the city, he spoke with Isha Jain on the reforms taken by CBSE, and the challenges with CCE.

Despite being mandatory, many CBSE schools are not adhering to 25% quota for weaker section?

Yes, many schools, especially the elite ones, are not following this. We are now planning to go for a mechanism to check who is following it and who isn’t. Since authority to take action is out of our control, we will seek the feedback of schools not following it and then encourage them to do that.

It’s said CBSE is experimenting too much with the students. Your take.

It’s a perception. Since we launched CCE in 2009, the basic scheme hasn’t changed much. Only weightage of summative assessments have been changed. Over years, we have clarified a lot on CCE.

Any plans to introduce CCE in class 12?

The scheme is finalized but we first want to consolidate it at class 10 level.

Students with CCE in class 10 say they will feel the pressure when they appear for class 12 board exams. Is it right?

The message of CCE has completely gone wrong with the people. CCE is aimed at changing teaching methodology to match it with the changing times. Till class 10, it is generalised studies, at plus 2 level, it is specialisation. So, slight pressure is there but class 12 students are mature. The problem is with the teachers who are still continuing with the traditional way of teaching. We carried a random survey to assess the impact of CCE on class 11 students. We found them doing exceedingly well. CCE helps in generating self-study habits in students while teachers play the role of facilitators.

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Coping with the regular children

Implementation, Reservation of seats, Right to Education

BANGALORE: Ask six-year-old Kouser how she finds her new school, and she will say she is happy. “I enjoy studying English,” says the Class I student, who has just been admitted to an unaided English-medium school in the city under the 25 per cent quota of the Right to Education (RTE) Act. She did her pre-school in an anganwadi centre.

THE BACKBENCH

Prod her a bit and ask her if she has made any friends and she falls silent. Her father Nayaz Pasha intervenes. “There are a few children from our locality who have been admitted in the same class. They are her friends even in class,” he says. Asked if the other children don’t mingle with these children and the father says: “She says she and her friends have been made to sit in the backbenches.”

While the idea behind providing reservation to the disadvantaged would bring in the much-needed diversity in the classroom, the possibility of a divide between “RTE children” and regular students has scared many parents — who have admitted their children under the quota — into rethinking the decision. But most say there is no blanket discrimination. Sujatha, mother of Srinivas, said her son has no problems in his new school. “He is learning quickly and is very happy,” she said, sounding relieved.

COMPLEX SITUATION
A majority of parents insists that the situation varies from school to school.

It is up to the managements to handle the complex situation. Given their deprived backgrounds, quota students need some hand-holding.
Invariably, most children admitted into Class I have studied in government schools or anganwadis before.

The language barrier (read English) and lack of preparatory knowledge of the other subjects are major hiccups. Not many schools offer a bridge course for these students.
Many teachers complain, off the record, about not knowing how to bring these children up-to-date.
“How these students should be evaluated remains a big question,” said a teacher who didn’t want to be named.

NERVOUSNESS TOO
Parents and children alike are intimidated by the fact that the school authorities insist on speaking to them in English.
Added to this is the apprehension of parents that their children will be dazzled by expensive accessories their privileged counterparts bring to school.

This is a paradoxical situation as the biggest allure of private education is English as the medium of instruction.
“It feels good to see my son come back and teach me a little English and whatever he learns in school. But he also tells us about the expensive pencil boxes and schoolbags he sees with his classmates,” said a mother.
She added that “dude” was one of the words she has learnt from him.

Asked how she is handling the situation, she said: “My husband is a labourer. There is not a lot we can do. But the joy of him enjoying school pushes us to buy him whatever we can within our means.”

The Hindu, 31 July 2012

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Only 32% admissions under RTE in state

Reservation of seats, Right to Education

PUNE: Only 32 per cent admissions have been reported for the students of economically weaker sections in the state under the 25 per cent reservation underlined by Right To Education (RTE) Act. Officials feel that lack of awareness and delay in decision could be the reason behind its poor implementation.

Director of Education Shreedhar Salunkhe, said, “The government resolution for 25 per cent reservation this year was announced in June. As most private unaided schools finish their admissions by January, there was not much that could be done. We cannot entirely blame schools, parents or the implementing agency. We’re hoping that next year, we will be able to achieve 100 per cent implementation.”

On May 25, Supreme Court had made it mandatory for schools to reserve 25 per cent seats for economically backward children at the entry level at class I or nursery (pre-primary) level, if the school has nursery classes.

“As many as 67,306 admissions were done across the state at entry levels,” Salunkhe said. There were two lakh children who were required to be admitted in the schools under this reservation.

The Indian Express, 31 July 2012

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