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To be a teacher

Implementation, Right to Education, Teacher education and training

Prashant Narang

Associate

iJustice

Mandated by Right to Education Act, 2009, the National Council for Teacher Education requires school teachers to not only have certain minimum academic qualifications, but also to pass a test to be eligible for teaching. The criteria for Classes I-V is 50% marks in Senior Secondary, a Diploma in Elementary Education and passing the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) and for Classes VI-VII is a Degree in Elementary Education and TET.

The question is: why TET? If the successful completion of the Diploma does not guarantee teaching ability, it raises questions of credibility on the certificate granted. Shouldn’t promulgation of an additional entry barrier be instead preceded by review and reform of the existing entry barrier? Secondly, does TET certification guarantee good learning achievements of pupil taught by the TET qualified teachers? The purpose of certification exams such as IELTS or TOEFL that assess one’s proficiency in English is precisely that–potential recruiters can rely on the exam outcome. However, a number of research studies show that there is no correlation between learning achievements and the mandated teacher qualification criteria in primary schools. Learning achievements have a correlation with teacher motivation (read ‘incentives’), not to qualifications and knowledge.

There is no reason why instead of a two-tier entry barrier to the teaching profession, the Government should not allow and certify various reputed private parties such as Pratham, Azim Premji University etc. to offer voluntary certification of the prospective teachers. So for example, to prove one’s language proficiency, one opts for either TOEFL or IELTS. Similarly, there could be multiple alternatives to TET, say for different skills or level of difficulty or subject knowledge.

Opponents may argue: (a) private schools are likely to hire under-qualified teachers to save money; (b) poor parents of first generation learners lack the capacity to demand competent teachers; and (c) how will the government ensure then quality teaching in public and private schools?

Please note that there are 12 lakh vacant posts for teachers in the Government sector alone. Multiple tier entry barriers create supply shortage thereby escalating the salary costs. In addition, every compliance rule has administrative, enforcement and adjudication costs. Instead of raising the bar ex ante, better learning achievements can be ensured with monitoring, assessment and incentives. Schools should be assessed, accredited, rated and ranked – instead of RTE mandated infrastructure-norm based recognition, schools could be assessed by a third party on several parameters including learning outcome of pupils and parental satisfaction, like the way it is designed in Gujarat. This would create incentives for private as well as public schools to ensure quality teaching and provide more information to parents to decide better. Let’s not ignore the fact that private budget schools compete with public schools that charge little or no fees and provide free uniform, books and stationery. There are good reasons why poor parents appreciate quality of education provided by these private budget schools and prefer them over public schools.

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Impact of the RTE Shutdown of Schools

Implementation, Right to Education

Forbes India

07-11-2013

Some years ago I wrote in an article that Right to Education (RTE) could  cause budget schools to shut down. And that is happening today. As feared, RTE  has made it more difficult for children to go to school whereas it should have  created more opportunities for them.

Let’s understand the issue. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory  Education Act, 2009, (popularly known as ‘RTE’) gives every child the right to  full-time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a formal  school (which satisfies certain essential norms and standards).

These input norms include prescribed Pupil-Teacher Ratios, standards for  buildings and infrastructure, defined school-working days, defined  teacher-working hours and the appointment of appropriately trained teachers.  There is no mention at all about outputs and no requirements about improving the  quality of education. [For more information on the RTE you can check http://www.righttoeducation.in/]

In the recent past, budget schools have proliferated in India. These schools  charge fees of around Rs 200-600 per month and serve as an alternative to the  free government school system. Given the low fees, these schools cannot afford  large infrastructure or offer the same salaries that government schools offer  their teachers. But many parents prefer to spend money sending their children to  these budget schools instead of sending them for free to a government  school.

Makes one wonder why someone would refuse a free service? The government’s  response (and Amartya Sen’s response too) is that the poor cannot make rational  decisions about their children’s education — a throwback to the days of a  controlled economy. Professor Karthik Muralidharan (UC San Diego, NCAER, NDER  and J-PAL) recently presented the results of his research on schools in Andhra  Pradesh. He concluded that private schools deliver slightly better test score  gains at less than a third of per-child government spending.

Data is sketchy on the number of schools that are being closed down because  of the RTE. State education portals do not carry these figures. The Centre for  Civil Society, a leading think tank in Delhi, has tried to get data on this.  According to their analysis, 933 schools have been closed in Punjab and another  219 schools face closure. In Haryana, the court has stayed the closure of 1,292  schools.

Assuming an average school size of 200 children, this works out to 500,000  children who either have no school to go to or cannot go to their school of  choice. In some cases these children will be forced to go to a government school  — a perverse situation where the government is forcing poorer children to go to  government schools. However, where there are no government schools these  children will have no school to go to.

I visited one such village in Ukhrul district of Manipur, where 40 students  found that they had no school to go to when their private school was shut down;  we finally bought them a bus so they could travel 5 kms to another private  school in a neighbouring village.

Accurate data is not available for other states, though press reports suggest  that 529 schools have been closed in Andhra Pradesh and 30 in Tamil Nadu. In  addition 6,116 schools face closure in Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra  Pradesh, Jharkhand and Maharashtra. This adds up to 1.8 million children who may  be forced to quit their chosen schools. And this dangerous stat pertains to  eight states only.

It is not that those private schools that are being shut down have  necessarily been doing a good job in educating children. Some of them could have  been bad, like the one I visited in Manipur in February. But some of the  government schools that I visited in Leh and in Mumbai earlier this year were  not better by any measure. So, by forcing a child to move from a private school  to a government school doesn’t necessarily assure the child a better education,  as inferred by Professor Karthik Muralidharan’s research.

Many budget schools are working hard on improving the outcome of education.  The National Independent Schools Alliance (NISA) was formed in 2010 to create a  unified voice in India for budget schools and to also improve the quality of  education in these schools.

It is interesting how democracies work and how public choices are made.  Instead of creating more opportunities for children to get a proper education,  the RTE is pushing children out of the education system or forcing them to get  inferior quality education. I am hoping the Parliament expected something else  when they passed the RTE.

Read more:  http://forbesindia.com/blog/accidental-investor/impact-of-the-rte-shutdown-of-schools/#ixzz2kKH05Xwk

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Right to education engulfed in dilemma of no detention

Implementation, Right to Education

The Indian Express

28-10-2013

It is interesting to note that the top-level advisory body in education, the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE), has decided to review the no-detention policy up to Class VIII, a decision taken at the instance of then HRD minister Kapil Sibal four years ago. The CABE has over 35 experts nominated by the HRD minister, and others are ex-officio members numbering well over 100. One could be sure, if Sibal was still heading the MHRD, CABE would not have taken this step. A study of the MHRD has stated the obvious: the commitment of students to education has declined after no detention up to Class VIII was introduced. The committee finds that this provision has made students lackadaisical and teachers ‘non-serious’.

It is easy to blame learners for their non-achievements; no one blames the deplorable conditions under which they are supposed to acquire knowledge and skills. Think of children who study in schools with absentee and unqualified teachers, leaking roofs, no electricity, not even drinking water and toilets. How could they be expected to stand on equal footing with those who study in air-conditioned schools, with qualified teachers in the right teacher-taught ratio? May 2009 onwards, Sibal was more interested in hogging the media space instead of initiating the process of reforms. Two of his actions have done greatest damage to the children of weaker sections who depend mostly on the ill-equipped and ill-staffed government schools. Without ensuring maintenance of the prescribed teacher-taught ratio, he announced the introduction of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE). Simultaneously, the provision for non-detention became a part of the RTE Act. The CCE has become a farce in schools where teacher-taught ratios may range from 1:50 to 1:150; where schools are being run by para teachers and regular teachers visit only at their convenience. Why shouldn’t they, if the district-level officers know about it, wink at it for obvious reasons and no one is worried about the learning outcomes of the students who automatically move to the next grade.

Pedagogically, no detention is acceptable provided the teacher is professionally equipped, committed, works in a congenial environment, is not over-burdened and is looking after only a stipulated number of learners. She should be in a position to assess individual learning needs, appreciate individual differences and be committed to provide remedial inputs to each learner as per his/her requirement. The teacher is also responsible to ensure that at no stage does the learner come under undue stress. It is futile to expect this from a teacher who is assigned duties in elections at each stage, does the cattle-head counting and is part of any sample or census survey! The consequences of the ill-conceived decisions and the bureaucratic orders to implement these are destined to fall flat. It would not be out of place to mention that the abolition of Class X examination has also accentuated non-learning at the elementary stage. Children from rural areas who have to migrate to another city for Plus-II courses without passing the Class X examination face ridicule and are often shown the door. It is no problem for the children of the prestigious ‘public schools’.

One must appreciate that the move to review the no-detention policy has been initiated by CABE under young minister Jitin Prasada. The scope of the committee could be extended to examine how the board exam results have jumped to touch the near-100 per cent mark.

India needs an HRD minister who can dare to assure the nation that within three years, he shall ensure adequately equipped and functional elementary schools for every child and that he would quit if he fails to do so. That could bring about a revolution in education and the seed to multiply India’s cognitive capital manifold would be sown by him.

Comment

RTE Act Section 16: Benefactors?

Implementation, Right to Education

Sanjukta Basu

Associate, Research

Centre for Civil Society

Most of the discussions on the Right to Education (RTE) Act focus most on reserving the seats in the private schools for disadvantaged groups (Section 12), pupil-teacher ratio, school management committees or the infrastructure norms. However, another interesting and relatively unexplored part of the RTE Act is Section 16. Section 16 of the RTE Act prohibits expulsion or retention of students till the completion of elementary education. In simple words, it implies that no student can be retained under any condition whatsoever. This is one of the least discussed segments of the Act. Moreover, there are some fundamental and critical questions which have not been addressed properly since its implementation. For instance – What is the purpose of such a clause? Who is it benefitting – the students, the teachers, or the system on the whole?

In the opinion of the architects of the Act and the child welfare organisations, this section was expected to be a boon for the child’s development. If one traces the journey of one’s own childhood, it is to some extent evident that regular tests ensured that students focused on their studies more frequently than otherwise. On the other side of the same fence, there are many news reports on youth suicide. For instance, the Hindu reported the suicide of a 14 year old girl after failing in two subjects earlier in the same week. Such news highlights the incident but fails to dig deeper into the problem and more importantly the root cause of the problem.  There are many reasons leading to youth suicide and failing in examinations is only one of them.

The pressure of examination has lessened with the introduction of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE). However, even if the verdict after CCE and additional remedial classes is that the student should be retained, then pushing him to the next will not contribute to his learning or development. Also considering that the RTE act is applicable only till standard 8, there are significant concerns whether the students will be able to cope with the sudden pressure of examination and retention in class 9. Does the Child Rights Panel expect children to suddenly grow up and handle pressure? Or do children above the age of 14 years not fall in their jurisdiction?

The other stakeholder in this scenario is the teachers. Irrespective of how they teach and what their students learn, since they cannot be retained in the same standard, there is no process to evaluate their performance. In government schools there are many students who are first generation learners and hence have no motivation from their parents to study. This system on non-evaluation adds to that laxity among the students. The fear of retention had earlier worked as a motivation for students to work hard. Though the RTE requires teachers to create an environment of learning and engagement with the students, it is clearly not working as there have been many complaints regarding the fall in children’s learning abilities. Also such a system will probably make the students vulnerable to the pressure which they have to eventually face in the future when they reach standard 9 or later in their academic life. A MCD school teacher pointed out that the previous system was creating good quality students judging by the number of students who were going abroad for higher education or being recognised globally. In the current scenario, the fact that students are aware of this privilege might be one of the causes of low attendance.

Broadly looking at the macro level, section 16 cannot benefit the overall education system if it does not promote the stakeholders at the micro level. It is hence essential to revisit Section 16 and closely examine its pros and cons once again.

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Is the Right to Education a reality for India’s children?

Implementation, Right to Education

Business Standard

13-09-2013

India is home to 19% of the world’s children.  What this means is that India has the world’s largest number of youngsters, which is largely beneficial, especially as compared to countries like China, which has an ageing population.

The not-so-good news is that India also has one-third of the world’s illiterate population. It’s not as though literacy levels have not increased, but rather that the rate of the increase is rapidly slowing. For example, while total literacy growth from 1991 to 2001 was 12.6%, it has declined to 9.21%.
To combat this worrisome trend, the Indian government proposed the Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, making education a fundamental right of every child in the age group of 6 to 14. Unsurprisingly, the reality is very different.
There are 5 main components that the Act puts forth:
  • In India, every child is entitled to free and compulsory full-time elementary education (first to eighth grade) as facilitated by the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act. This means elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a formal school run with certain essential standards
  • Parents of children covered under RTE are not liable to pay for school fees, uniforms, textbooks, mid-day meals, transportation, etc. until the elementary education is complete.
  • If a child has not managed to secure admission in a school according to age, it will be government’s responsibility to get the child admitted in an age-appropriate class. Schools will have to organize training sessions to allow such a child to catch up with others.
  • No child shall be held back (failed) or expelled until the completion of elementary education.
  • Not following the RTE rules can invite a penalty of Rs 25000.
While the RTE is a ground breaking piece of legislation, the first in the world that puts the responsibility of ensuring student enrollment, attendance and completion of elementary education on the Government., recent surveys by the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and UNICEF show that the state of education has not improved much since 2009, when the act was first proposed.
According to Tarun Cherukuri, City Director for Delhi for Teach For India, there is always a lag to be expected between de jure interventions and de facto outcomes.
“To expect laws to change citizen and public servant behaviour overnight is not realistic,” he says. “ There has been considerable progress in education inputs over the last decade due to efforts like SSA and RTE – pupil-teacher ratios have fallen over 20 percent (from 47.4 to 39.8), fractions of schools with toilets and electricity has more than doubled etc. These are all non-trivial achievements of the state system.”
Schools that have understood the remedial teaching process are unable to act accordingly due to the inappropriate student-teacher ratio.
“The ideal class for the remedial teaching process is of 30 students,” Sangeeta Shrivastva, principal of Kandivali Education Society Schools told DNA. Thus, when the strength of a class varies from 60 to 80 students, it is difficult to provide remedial teaching those who are not up to the set expectations of a class.
“The [RTE] Act does not do enough justice to enable marginal improvements in quality and foster creative solutions within the larger system,” continues Cherukuri. “By making a clear choice for access through the concept of neighbourhood schools, the Act has virtually sealed the door on drawing benefits from economies of scale within schooling systems.”
It seems to be an unassailable fact that the RTE Act appears, on paper at least, to be an ideal solution to the problems of education in India. However, its implementation too has been faulty.
Although state education departments and local education authorities are responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Act, this responsibility doesn’t seem to have been taken seriously.
“There are no special audit mechanisms like in the case of NREGA,” says Cherukuri. “This accountability mechanism is weak in almost all states and judicial activism through PILs has been the common and reasonably successful recourse.”
Another rather glaring flaw is the “no failure” policy that the Act attempts to implement. What the Act attempts to do is implement a Comprehensive Curriculum Evaluation (CCE), to ensure that tests are not be the singular measure of a child’s progress during an academic year.
“Students are supposed to be tested through multiple formats – presentations, projects, public performances etc,” explains Mr. Cherukuri.”
However, because CCE is not understood properly by officials in many schools, children are constantly passed to higher grade levels, regardless of whether or not they are prepared for that higher level of work. “Most schools use CCE as a medium to excuse themselves from pursuing rigorous work with their children. Most children glide through the system without achieving any significant learning outcomes,” says Mr. Cherukuri, who says he is in favour of CCE, at least in principle.
Further, campaigners claim that children from poor families are often pulled out of school by their parents, who need them to work.
“State and National child rights commissions have been working actively with governments to reduce the percentage of children out of school and [involved] in child labour,” says Cherukuri. “The reality is that there is still a long way to go to achieve 100 percent enrollment and ensure retention within school for at least 8 years of schooling.”
Passing a bill is one easy thing to do. What is seems to be the key in ensuring this Act is successful, is to make parents, particularly in rural areas, aware of the benefits of education and to encourage them to send their children to school.
Like many attempted social changes in India, this too has to start at the community level, requires a widespread change of an age-old mindset and must make people at the helm of affairs accountable.
Comment

Education scenario in state bleak: Report

Implementation, Right to Education

28-08-2013

Times of India

PATNA

Bihar needs nearly twice the number of teachers currently in service to achieve the national pupil teacher ratio (PTR) and the RTE (right to education) norm of 30:1. In fact, only 16% teachers at the panchayat level are trained. Around 60,000 schools in the state do not have a permanent campus and not even 3% of the school management committees (SMCs) are actively involved in planning and development work.

According to a survey on ‘Implementation of RTE Act in Bihar’, conducted in 375 schools of Bihar by State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and UNICEF, the education scenario of the state is not rosy. The survey further reveals that student classroom ratio (SCR) across schools in Bihar was 82, much higher than the all India figure of 30:1. And, students’ attendance at schools stood at almost 63% only.

The survey report was tabled on Tuesday in the presence of the state education minister, P K Shahi, who admitted that education sector had a number of shortcomings. But, according to him, several significant steps have been taken by the government in the last two years for the implementation of RTE. “Enrolment of girls in Bihar is higher than that of boys at 51.35%. Nearly 1.42 lakh additional classrooms are required and we have built over 3,000 classrooms in the last four months. Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) scheme is implemented in nearly 83% of the schools,” said Shahi.

However, the education department is likely to appoint nearly 95,000 teachers by November and, thus, bring down the PTR that currently stands at 57:1. “Since many prospective teachers have not cleared the TET, we are unable to fill all the vacant posts. We are thinking about how to fill these vacancies,” said Amarjeet Sinha, principal secretary of the department.

In fact, in the wake of Saran midday meal tragedy, Sinha said separate funds would be routed to SMCs for maintaining cleanliness of toilets and kitchen sheds. The department has also devised a six-month enrichment programme for training teachers who are in service. “The first batch of 34,000 teachers would soon get certification from NCTE and the second batch of 66,000 teachers would start training under the programme from September 5,” he said.

The report adds that much is desired for infrastructure development, training of teachers and devising suitable pedagogy, constitution of SMCs, and creating a child-friendly educational environment in the schools. Cleanliness of toilets and kitchen sheds is also a central issue.

In fact, state project director of Bihar Education Project Council (BEPC) Rahul Singh said, “If the government is not giving affiliation to private schools for lack of infrastructure, government schools should also be judged on the same parameters, or else norms should be relaxed for private schools as well.”

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Schools heave a sigh of relief as Maharashtra govt softens RTE norms

Implementation, Right to Education, School Recognition

Jul 6, 2013,

The Times of India

[Himanshu Nitnaware ]

AURANGABAD: With the Maharashtra government softening its norms under the Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009, 77 city schools can now heave a sigh of relief.
With the revision of norms, these 77 Aurangabad schools will be now eligible under the RTE ambit and will not face action from the zilla parishad (ZP).
In a directive issued on June 29, the state relaxed norms for schools laid under the Act, including playgrounds, urinals, ramps, water facilities, compound walls, kitchen sheds and classrooms.
The region has around 1,046 primary schools, of which around 816 schools have submitted detailed reports of compliance and have undergone inspection, said Nitin Upasani, ZP education officer. Upasani said that the move follows practical constraints for many schools in implementing the RTE provisions.
According to the revised norms, schools can now use open spaces or any other playground in the vicinity – a clause that was already under consideration, given space constraints in many city schools. Upasani stated that schools with centralised kitchen facilities will not have to comply with the requisite norm of a separate kitchen shed or arrange for separate water facilities for cooking. The revised norms specify 2 litres of water per student for cooking midday meals and another 2 litres of drinking water, so the latter needs to be in place.
According to the newly-suggested ratio of washrooms, schools must have three urinals and one toilet. Since new washroom constructions offer an equal number of toilets and urinals, separate toilets for boys and girls are to be ensured on school inspections.
School authorities in the city welcomed the revised norms. “We were worried about completing the only lacuna of a separate kitchen shed: we just don’t have the space. With this decision, we were relieved,” said Sudhakar Gayke, principal of Narsinha Vidyamandir. Omkar Pawar, principal of the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Primary School, said that the compulsion of implementing RTE norms has helped raise the infrastructural standard of the school. “The revised decision has offered us the flexibility to implement norms according to the available space,” Pawar said.
The only worry for schools now pertains to the primary and upper primary classes, with the norm of a separate classroom for 35 students with a
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Implementation of Right to Education Act vital

Implementation, Right to Education

4-Jul-2013 :

The Hindu

If the Right to Education Act is implemented properly in all schools, students from the marginalised sections will be greatly benefited. Another important fact is financial support for education. The student could achieve this feat only because of the scholarship scheme;

“The Government should make sure that grants are disbursed on time and deserving students should not have to wait,”said S. Balakrishnan, Director, Vergal Education Trust, Madurai.

When asked about special coaching programmes for students from underprivileged sections who are writing the Plus Two exams, Chief Educational Officer C. Amuthavalli said that there are no such programmes under government schemes; each school conducts special programmes. “We offer career counselling guidance for successful Plus Two students at district level and it is open to all students.”

There are a number of scholarship schemes for the underprivileged. For example, among the Adi Dravidar, Tribal and Adi Dravidar Christian converts, students who secure the highest marks in the public examinations are awarded prize money both at the state and district levels. They are also eligible for grants to pursue higher studies. These schemes need to be popularised among students and parents drawn from socially disadvantaged sections of society, said District Officer, Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department, Madurai.

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CRY Study Finds Lapses in RTE Implementation

Implementation, Right to Education

Outlook India

New Delhi

Jun 26, 2013

About 11 per cent of the government schools in India do not have toilets while 20 per cent of them do not have safe drinking water, according to a survey conducted by an NGO.

The study by Child Care and You was conducted in 642 government schools (primary and upper primary) across the country.

Titled ‘Learning Blocks’, the study claims that there are significant lapses in the Right to Education Act since its implementation in 2009.

Important provisions under the Act like school infrastructure, toilets, drinking water facilities, student- teacher ratio are not at 100 per cent, it says.

As per the findings, only 18 per cent of the schools had separate toilets for girls and around 49 per cent of them had common toilets for staff and students.

“CRY’s experience on-ground points to the fact that the lack of basic infrastructure — especially facilities for drinking water and separate toilets for girls — is one of the key factors that push children out of school,” CEO of CRY, Puja Marwaha said.

Non-availability of head teachers was reported in 28 per cent of the primary schools and 31 per cent of the upper primary schools. In 18 per cent of the schools, the mid-day meals were either not cooked inside a designated kitchen or did not have a kitchen space at all.

The findings also show poor infrastructure in most of the government schools. Almost 63 per cent of the schools did not have a boundary wall, 39 per cent of the primary schools and about 52 per cent of the upper primary schools are without classrooms.

Around 58 per cent of the schools did not have separate room for head teachers.

Regarding the age-appropriate admission, proof of age was asked for in 61 per cent of the schools while around 46 per cent of them asked for transfer certificate from children at the time of admission, the report says.

The CRY’s study covered 71 districts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil  Nadu, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya  Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Besides these 13 states, schools in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata were also included in the study.

When asked as to why this study concentrated only on government schools, Marwaha said, “Only government schools can provide free education to underprivileged children. And the section of the society (poor children) we serve goes to these schools only. Also, we want every children to receive education through government system only.”

On whether the funds allocated by the government for implementing the RTE are sufficient, Marwaha said when the government passes any Act, it must be backed up with enough resources.

“The government do allocate funds but whether they are utilised is something that needs to be questioned. It can be the subject of our next study,” Vijaylakshmi  Arora, head of Policy and Advocacy, CRY, said.

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Education dept clueless over lost Nagpur RTE bills

Implementation, Right to Education

Times of India

30 April, 2013

Those schools in Nagpur district, which submitted bills for admissions given under the Right To Education Act (RTE) last year to education department for reimbursement, may have to wait longer. The reason: no one in the state’s education department has any idea where those bills are! The Nagpur branch claims to have delivered the bills on March 15 at its headquarters in Pune, while the latter claims complete ignorance.

Director of education (primary) Mahavir Mane said, “We received no RTE bills from Nagpur at all. In fact, after TOI’s query I asked my staff to thoroughly check the incoming mail list, but nothing was found.”

Nagpur’s RTE in-charge Someshwar Netam confirmed to TOI that the bills had indeed been sent. “One of my staffer members had gone to Pune and delivered the documents on March 15. I am in no position to say why it cannot be found at Pune office. But, we always keep a backup of all our correspondence, so a new set can be dispatched,” said Netam.

As per rules, schools under RTE ambit have to give free admission up to 25% of their total strength. These schools are then reimbursed by the state government after verification of submitted bills. But the education department seems to have performed the seemingly impossible feat of misplacing these pending bills.

This bizarre case reflects the callous working culture at the education department as officials in Nagpur and Pune were unaware that RTE bills had gone missing. The goof-up came to light only after TOI started reporting on the delay in RTE bill reimbursements.

School principals are fuming upon learning the way department is handling financial matters. A principal said, “It is outrageous that they are taking the bill payment issue so lightly. We have been waiting since last year for it and have followed education department’s every directive and this is how they handle it. In a private job such action would have led to termination of services.”

Another principal said, “Last year they asked us to submit bills with attendance up to October. Hence everyone sent the bills in first week of November. Then in February the education department informed us that the bills were rejected due to old data. Of course the data will get old if they sit on those bills for months together. Now that we have submitted attendance records till February our education officials manage to lose them all together.”

Netam has now assured TOI that he will follow up on the issue.

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