Weekly Update on Education

02 February 2010

What is wrong with the "Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act"
Siddhartha Shome, Manushi

Unlike other fundamental rights, the right to education granted by Article 21A is qualified by the phrase "in such manner as the State may, by law, determine". Enacted recently by the Indian parliament, this law is the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.At first glance, the RTE Bill may appear to be promising. There are, however, very serious flaws in this Act.The biggest problem with the RTE Act is that it envisages a government centric system of primary education run directly by the state or local governments, with hardly any scope for private citizens' initiatives.In primary education, it is important for the government provide funds, and also set up a basic regulatory mechanism, but excessive government involvement in day-to-day running of schools might actually hinder rather than help the cause of universal primary education.Secondly, the RTE Act seeks to minimize educational choice. The power to take decisions on almost any issue related to primary education is taken away from parents and vested with the government bureaucracy.

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Best of luck, parents
Kate Darnton, The Hindustan Times, 31 Jan 2010

When we moved to Delhi six months ago, I naively assumed we would have little trouble enrolling our girls in a good local school. I would just stroll over to our neighborhood elementary, knock on the door, and be welcomed in.I never got past the guard.The fundamental problem in all the mega-cities including Delhi is the same: an imbalance of supply and demand. There are too many educated professionals competing for too few spots for their kids. Last year, the Hindustan Times ranked Shri Ram the number one school in South Delhi. Over the past few weeks, the school’s website has listed 1,575 three-year-old candidates competing for 112 spots, including 40 spots reserved for the EWS (‘Economically Weaker Section’), staff, and management. With only 72 remaining seats, that leaves each regular candidate a 4.7 per cent chance of getting in which is less than last year’s acceptance rate at Harvard College was 7.1 per cent. More [+]

Government to give parents right to monitor schools
Vineeta Pandey,DNA IIndia, 30 Jan 2010

The government plans to give parents the right to monitor schools. It wants them to play a bigger role in the education system’s functioning and monitor its programmes.In model rules approved by human resource development (HRD) minister Kapil Sibal relating to the right to free and compulsory education for children, the government has laid down provisions that empower parents to monitor teachers’ absenteeism and attendance, maintenance of norms and standards by schools, implementation of mid-day meals and implementation of the right to education among the grassroots. More [+]

Elementary education: neglect & deficiencies
J.S.Rajput, The Hindu, 31 Jan 2010

Pronouncements on new initiatives in education generate only a limited confidence among the people and the functionaries alike. Over the years, practically everyone has observed how the plans and programmes launched with the best of intentions and prepared after considerable deliberations get reduced to mere ‘another failed one of the numerous schemes’.The conditions in elementary schools across the country tell the same old story of continuous neglect, deficiencies and deprivations. Unless people are convinced that the existing system shall be improved upon, they would be fully justified in their apprehensions about the RTE Act meeting the same fate as of the constitutional mandate of 1950 that enjoins upon the state to endeavour to provide free and compulsory education to all children till they attain 14 years of age. More [+]

Government mulls grading for classes XI & XII
The Economic Times,29 Jan 2010

As part of the education reform process, the Centre is examining the feasibility of introducing a system of continuous and comprehensive evaluation and grading at Classes XI and XII. A committee has been set up to study the possibility of introducing the grading system at the higher secondary level and its implication for undergraduate admission. Once the committee submits its report, the ministry will take the proposal up for further consultations with various school boards, and stakeholders and advisory bodies More [+]

SC notice to Centre over law on deemed universities status
Financial Express, 30 Jan 2010

The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre on a petition challenging the validity of the law conferring power on the Central government and the University Grants Commission (UGC) to grant deemed university status to an institute. The PIL on the issue assumes importance as it has come at a time when the government was held back by the apex court from going ahead with its move to de-recognise 44 deemed universities. More [+]

More support likely for basic education
Sreelatha Menon, Business Standard, 31 Jan 2010

Budgetary allocations for primary and secondary education are likely to see a big increase in the 2010-11 Budget, touching Rs 30,000 crore. However, it remains to be seen if this is enough to finance the new fundamental right to education between the ages of six and 14 years.This sum would fund both the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and the additional expenses in implementing RTE once it is notified. Even so, in absolute terms, funds for elementary education are likely to be doubled over the current figures for the next financial year More [+]

Karnataka State government moots model schools
Shurba Mukherjee, Deccan Herald, 30 Jan 2010

Karnataka will soon set up model secondary schools in 114 backward blocks of the State, combining the best features of Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya schools. An action plan has been submitted to the Centre. The State Government has asked the Centre to allocate Rs 1,100 crore as grant soon for setting up these schools. These schools will function under the State Government, following a different curriculum and pedagogy. More [+]

Contract teachers
Sangeeta Goyal and Priyanka Pandey,The World Bank

ABSTRACT: In this paper authors use non-experimental data from government schools in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, two of the largest Indian states, to present average school outcomes by contract status of teachers. The authors find that after controlling for teacher characteristics and school fixed effects, contract teachers are associated with higher effort than civil service teachers with permanent tenures. Higher teacher effort is associated with better student performance after controlling for other school inputs and student characteristics. Given that salaries earned by contract teachers are one fourth or less of civil service teachers, contract teachers may be a more cost-effective resource. However, contracts 'as they are' appear weak. Not only do contract teachers have fairly low average effort in absolute terms, but those who have been on the job for at least one full tenure have lower effort than others who are in the first contract period. More [+]

Book of the Month

School Choice: Why You Need It -- How You Get It
By David Harmer

School choice is the hottest and most controversial idea in education reform today. As dissatisfaction with the public schools continues to grow, more and more people are turning to choice to provide real reform. The author explains why the public schools no longer work, why they resist reform, and why choice is the reform that will work. He also gives us the inside story of California's pioneering 1993 Parental Choice in Education initiative and the education establishment's successful $16 million campaign to defeat it. Harmer explains how other states can adapt the initiative to their needs and what lessons can be learned from its defeat.
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2009 Templeton Freedom Awards

Centre for Civil Society’s “Performing Arts for School Choice” bags 2009 Templeton Freedom Award for Initiative in Public Relations.
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Action for School Admission Reforms (ASAR) More+

Action for School Admission Reforms (ASAR) is School Choice Campaign's initiative to usher in fairness and transparency in nursery admissions. If parents in your city too are suffering, please write to us at



400 girl children from poor families of North East Delhi receive school vouchers for a period of 4 years.
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