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86 private Marathi schools yet to get govt recognition

Right to Education, School Recognition

PUNE: In a bid to draw the education department’s attention to the state government’s pending decision to give recognition to 86 private Marathi medium schools across the state; the Shikshan Hakk Samanvay Samiti (SHSS) has decided to agitate outside the office of the director of education from July 16. The SHSS is the umbrella institution for private Marathi schools.

While talking to the media on Friday, president of SHSS, Ramesh Panse, said, “Last year, school education minister Rajendra Darda had promised us to give recognition to private Marathi medium schools after we had gone on a hunger strike, but he has failed to keep his word. As many as 86 schools across the state, including 10 in Pune, have not been recognised since 2008.”

Instead of giving recognition to the existing ones, the state government is considering giving permission to new Marathi medium schools, he said.

“There are some 88 private Marathi medium primary and secondary schools that are imparting good quality education in the state. However, there are another 86 schools that are also imparting quality education, but the state has issued notices to shut them down. Surprisingly, in the last few years, 800 English medium schools have got recognition in the state,” he said. “We will continue the agitation till we get a written confirmation from the state on the issue,” he added.

Daily News & Analysis, 14 July 2012


Only 2 out of 2,500 schools apply for RTE

Implementation, Right to Education, School Recognition

NAGPUR: While the mammoth Right To Education (RTE) Act’s implementation is being pushed through by state government from this academic year itself, local authorities are struggling to find support from schools. On Saturday the deadline to apply for a certificate of recognition (COR) ended but only two out of the approximately 2,500 schools in the district had sent in their application. The COR is a mandatory document for all schools regardless of the board they are affiliated to.

Someshwar Netam, education officer (primary), is the person in-charge of the entire operations and he too was displeased with the response. “We had informed all schools well in advance but only two of them have applied so far, one is South Point School from the state board and there is another CBSE school. My department has been giving out all the necessary information to schools and have always been very open in communication, I don’t understand why the hesitation still exists,” said Netam.

TOI spoke to some top schools in city and after knowing the severity of the problem but none of them wanted to come on record. A principal said, “We were all busy with the beginning of new academic session. And there are so many rules under the RTE that it becomes very confusing. We are gathering all the documents required for COR and will submit our application soon. As it is, we have just managed to tide over the 25% free quota clause under the law and now they are hounding us for this new COR.”

While schools may be taking this clause lightly for now, many are not aware of the importance that RTE gives to COR. Chapter I, section 18 of the RTE explicitly mentions that schools will be fined up to Rs1 lakh if they operate without a valid COR, and then further a penalty of Rs10,000 per day if the violations continue. The local education office has been given the powers to withdraw the recognition of schools if the institute fails to obtain a COR for the current academic year.

The deputy director of education Mahesh Karajgaonkar said, “We will be issuing notices to all those schools who failed to meet the deadline. RTE is the law now and there is absolutely no reason for schools to shy away. The recognition of schools can be cancelled if they fail to meet the norms.”

The Times of India, 01 July 2012


Gujarat innovates a new trail in Right to Education

Right to Education, School Recognition

One major initiative of the Indian government, in the field of education, was the Right to Education Act of 2009. This act has major problems, as has been argued by numerous observers and experts in the field. This Act focuses on the interests of incumbent public sector education providers, instead of focusing on the interests of children and parents.

It is focused on inputs into the educational process, regardless of the outcomes which are coming out. It penalises private schools that have weaknesses on inputs, regardless of the fact that these schools often induce better learning outcomes when compared with public schools.

At the same time, the translation of the Act into benign or malign outcomes critically hinges on the Rules under the Act, which are notified by state governments. Thus, now that Parliament has chosen to enact the RTE Act, the critical frontier that matters is how state governments choose.

In recent weeks, Gujarat notified its Rules for the implementation of the Right to Education Act (RTE) 2009. It has introduced some of the most innovative ideas for recognition of existing private unaided schools. The committee in charge of drafting the rules in Gujarat, that was headed by the former Chief Secretary Sudhir Mankad, has broken new ground in understanding the policy issues faced in education in India today.

Instead of focusing only on input requirements specified in the Act like classroom size, playground, and teacher-student ratio, the Gujarat RTE Rules put greater emphasis on learning outcomes of students in the recognition norms. Appendix 1 of the Gujarat Rules is the one which has a path-breaking formulation for recognition of a school: this will be a weighted average of four measures:

Student learning outcomes (absolute levels): Weight 30 percent.
Using standardised tests, student learning levels focussing on learning (not just rote) will be measured through an independent assessment.

Student learning outcomes (improvement compared to the school’s past performance): Weight 40 percent.
This component is introduced to ensure that schools do not show a better result in (1) simply by not admitting weak students. The effect of school performance looking good simply because of students coming from well-to-do backgrounds is also automatically addressed by this measure. Only in the first year, this measure will not be available and the weightage should be distributed among the other parameters.

Inputs (including facilities, teacher qualifications): Weight 15 percentStudent non-academic outcomes (co-curricular and sports, personality and values) and parent feedback: weight 15 percent.
Student outcomes in non-academic areas as well as feedback from a random sample of parents should be used to determine this parameter. Standardised survey tools giving weightage to cultural activities, sports, art should be developed. The parent feedback should cover a random sample of at least 20 parents across classes and be compiled.

This is one of the first times in India’s history that public policy has focused on children and parents, instead of focusing on the public sector producers of education services.

Furthermore, the Gujarat RTE Rules have taken a more nuanced and flexible approach in other areas too. For instance, both class size and teacher-student ratio have not been defined in absolute terms, but in relative terms.

The required classroom size is 300 sq feet but in case classrooms are smaller, then instead of rebuilding them, the rules allow for a way to accommodate that with a different teacher-student ratio. The formula is: Teacher Student ratio = (Area of the classroom in sq feet-60)/8. This approach not only allows smaller classrooms to exist but also gives schools a more efficient way to manage physical infrastructure.

If a private school is unable to meet recognition norms, then the RTE Act de-recognises the school and forces it to close down. This sudden forced closure would create serious problems for the students and parents who would have to find a new school in the neighbourhood. The Gujarat Rules allow for the state to take over the school, or transfer management to a third party, and create a genuine possibility for the school to continue and meet the norms. This, once again, shows the focus of the Gujarat Rules upon the interests of students and parents.

This approach is significantly better than that of the other states where recognition norms are based solely on input requirements and that are also rigid (like playground, classroom size and teacher-student ratio). The Gujarat approach recognises the substantial contribution made by budget private schools in urban and semi-urban areas where land and buildings are very expensive. Actually many government schools themselves would not be able to meet the rigid input norms that RTE has mandated.

First Post, 11 April 2012


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