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Weekly Update on Education (Issue No 229)

02 Apr 2013

RTE has failed to impart quality education: Report
Live Mint, March 28, 2013

With the deadline to enforce the Right to Education (RTE) across India expiring in two days, a group of for-profit and non-profit organisations on Thursday released a critical analysis of the programme and suggested that the government adopt the model followed in Gujarat. “Three years since the passage of the RTE Act, an ever-increasing number of children have access to education. Yet, a large and growing amount of data points to the fact that student learning levels are unacceptably low, and that improving schooling inputs have had a very limited impact on improving learning outcomes,” said the 22-member group, which includes organisations such as Accountability Initiative and Centre for Civil Society.

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Delhi goes easy on RTE land norms for schools
Governance Now, March 29, 2013

Unrecognised private schools in the national capital seem to have finally caught a break from the stringent norms on space that are a part of enforcing the right to education (RTE). Recognition from any municipal, state or central education board hinges on the schools adhering to strictures of the RTE Act on minimum space including classroom space and playground. With the RTE Act mandating the closure of all unrecognised schools that don’t meet its guidelines by March 31, 2013, the Delhi government’s decision to lower the bar for space comes as a reprieve to many.

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RTE just on paper as deadline looms
Hindustan Times, March 29, 2013

When a popular private school in Pune asked Ramesh Gaitonde for covert donations in exchange for his 5-year-old son’s admission, the technology entrepreneur was quick to cite the Right to Education Act that bars schools from demanding capitation fees or donations. But when the school, unperturbed, challenged him to a legal battle, a shocked Gaitonde found that the Maharashtra government had not appointed any local grievance redressal officer he could go to, though the law requires the appointment of these officers.

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No extension to RTE deadline: Government
The Economic Times, April 1, 2013

With the deadline for meeting RTE obligations ending yesterday, government ruled out any extension maintaining that 90 per cent of the schools have met required norms. HRD Minister M M Pallam also appeared to dismiss fears of schools risking the threat of being closed down for lagging behind when he said that there were government schools also which were lagging behind in meeting infrastructure norms such as classrooms, libraries, toilets and disable friendly campuses. “Enrolment figure is 96 per cent consistently for the last few years. In terms of infrastructure, it is 90 per cent and even in terms of toilets, it is 90 per cent except for a few states,” he told reporters here, though he said that the main challenge was bridging the shortfall of teachers.

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India spends, but education suffers
Business Standard, March 28, 2013

Educational spending is soaring. At the turn of the decade, new legislation has been enacted to make education a fundamental right. But India’s elementary schoolchildren are just not learning. The country’s elementary education budget has more than doubled since 2007-08, from Rs 68,853 crore to Rs 147,059 crore this fiscal, but the number of Standard-III students who could read a Standard-I textbook has plummeted from just under 50 per cent five years ago, to some 30 per cent in 2012. So, what’s going wrong?

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RTE deadline, where do we stand?
The Times of India, April 1, 2013

Right to Education Act (RTE) enforcement deadline ended on March 31, 2013. Urmila Sarkar, chief education, Unicef-India ,writes on the priority areas to fulfil the goal. April 1, 2013, marks a key milestone in RTE implementation. It represents the third year anniversary of the Act, which for the first time guaranteed eight years of quality education for every girl and boy across India. It is also the agreed deadline for meeting provisions related to the rights of children, teachers, schools, and monitoring with a focus on child-friendly and child-centred curriculum. Provisions related to the training of untrained teachers have been given an extra two years and should be met by April 1, 2015.

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Using evidence for better policy: case of primary education in India
Live Mint, March 20, 2013

Investments in education contribute to aggregate economic growth and enable citizens to participate in the growth process through improved productivity, employment, and wages, and are, therefore, a critical component of the inclusive growth agenda of the Government of India. The past decade has seen substantial increases in education investments under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), and this additional spending has led to considerable progress in improving primary school access, infrastructure, pupil-teacher ratios, teacher salaries, and student enrolment. Nevertheless, student learning levels and trajectories are disturbingly low, with nationally representative studies showing that over 60% of children aged 6-14 are unable to read at second-grade level. Further, learning outcomes have shown no sign of improving over time (and may even be deteriorating). Thus, the poor performance of the education system in translating spending into outcomes threatens aggregate productivity in the economy and also denies citizens the capabilities they need to fully participate in a modernizing economy.

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Pick top-quality leaders for our schools to build India’s future: Azim Premji, Chairman, Wipro
The Economic Times, March 20, 2013

There are multiple research studies across the world, including India, which attempt to identify schools where learning is genuinely happening, and to understand the factors that influence these outcomes. There are usually a few common factors that are characteristic of those schools where learning really happens. One of the most significant and consistent of these factors is the quality of school leadership. Where the school leadership (principal, head teacher, etc) is good, the school is often good. I am sure this conclusion doesn’t surprise most of us. Before we go any further, let me briefly touch upon what I think is good education.

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Rahm Shuts Down the Schools
Front Page Mag, April 1, 2013

Just over a week ago, Chicago Public School (CPS) officials announced the closing of 54 elementary schools contained in 61 buildings, located in poor, mostly black and Hispanic neighborhoods. The move represents the largest mass closing of schools in the nation’s history. CPS, facing a projected budget deficit of $1 billion in 2014, insists money spent keeping schools with declining enrollment open can be better used elsewhere. Approximately 30,000 students will be affected by the move. The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and many parents are furious, and vow to fight.

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They Spend WHAT? The Real Cost of Public Schools
CATO Institute

Although public schools are usually the biggest item in state and local budgets, spending figures provided by public school officials and reported in the media often leave out major costs of education and thus understate what is actually spent. To document the phenomenon, this paper reviews district budgets and state records for the nation’s five largest metro areas and the District of Columbia. It reveals that, on average, per-pupil spending in these areas is 44 percent higher than officially reported. Real spending per pupil ranges from a low of nearly $12,000 in the Phoenix area schools to a high of nearly $27,000 in the New York metro area. The gap between real and reported per-pupil spending ranges from a low of 23 percent in the Chicago area to a high of 90 percent in the Los Angeles metro region. To put public school spending in perspective, we compare it to estimated total expenditures in local private schools. We find that, in the areas studied, public schools are spending 93 percent more than the estimated median private school. Citizens drastically underestimate current per-student spending and are misled by official figures. Taxpayers cannot make informed decisions about public school funding unless they know how much districts currently spend. And with state budgets stretched thin, it is more crucial than ever to carefully allocate every tax dollar. This paper therefore presents model legislation that would bring transparency to school district budgets and enable citizens and legislators to hold the K–12 public education system accountable.

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A hoax of a law
By Tavleen Singh, Indian Express

The problem with writing a topical column like this one is that I am often forced to ignore issues that I consider very, very important because of the race to keep up with 'breaking news'. So I have wanted for some time to write about the hoax that the Right to Education Act is and been unable to because of more topical topics intruding. This week I have my chance as this law is the topic of the moment. Today marks the deadline for compliance with the provisions of the RTE Act and nearly half of our schools remain non-compliant. Click here to read more.

Restructuring Teacher Education in Chattisgarh
By Dr Rashmi Sinha, Centre for Civil Society

I was recently in Chhattisgarh as a member of Joint Review Mission of Centrally Sponsored Scheme of teacher education. This initiative of the Government of India’s MHRD, is a nationwide program for restructuring of teacher education, largely in response to Children’s Right to Free and Compulsory education (RTE). My first post, Listening to Winds of Change, gave my impressions of poor visibility of scheduled tribes in public places, markets and in the state government and the need for a more rooted and inclusive model of development to end this isolation. Click here to read more.

The Third E
By Dr Akanksha Bapna, Centre for Civil Society

Expansion, Equity and Excellence are documented as fundamentals on the basis of which Education in India stands. While access has expanded significantly and equity has supposedly been achieved through the public school system, we are nowhere near achieving our third ‘E’ – excellence as is evident from the extremely low employability of our graduates.  If we are to capitalize on our demographic potential, we urgently need to shift focus on quality and outcomes at all levels of education. Click here to read more.

Poll
April 1ST 2013 marked the third anniversary of the RTE, has it delivered the educational reform needed in India?

To vote click here

RTE Coalition
To initiate and continue the discussion amongst concerned groups and individuals on the issue of right of education and monitor the implementation
of the RTE Act, an RTE Coalition has been formed. Join the coalition to make universal elementary education a reality in India.

Log on to www.righttoeducation.in
for more information

Skill Vouchers - Global Experiences and Lessons for India
(
Leah Verghese and Parth J Shah)
A study of the role that skill vouchers can play in catalysing demand for quality skill development services. This study examines global experiences with skill vouchers and draws lessons for India from these experiences.

For more click here

Reservation in Private Schools under the Right to Education Act: Model for Implementation
(
Shekhar Mittal and Parth J Shah)
A comprehensive analysis on reservation in private schools under the Right to Education Act, providing a seven-step model for 25% implementation.

For more click here

School Vouchers for Girls
400 girl children from poor families of North East Delhi receive school vouchers for a period of 4 years.
For details visit our website

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