Findings from an on-ground study conducted by leading Child Rights NGO, CRY – Child Rights and You reveals significant gaps in compliance three years after the Right to Education Act, 2009 ensured every child the fundamental right to free, quality elementary education .
The study – entitled ‘Learning Blocks’ - was conducted across 71 districts in 13 states by CRY’s project partners and CRY volunteers, and tracks the infrastructural gaps in the implementation of the provisions laid out under the RTE Act. The findings reveal that necessary provisions like school infrastructure, all-weather buildings, toilets and drinking water facilities, fencing or boundary walls, Pupil Teacher Ratio and the One-Classroom-One-Teacher practice are not at 100 per cent compliance.
Puja Marwaha, CEO CRY – Child Rights and You says, “One cannot expect children to stay in school without basic infrastructure like safe classrooms, electricity, clean drinking water and functioning toilets. 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.”
In its 34 years of working with children, their families and communities, CRY has learnt that issues affecting children are always linked. The lack of quality education is directly linked to child labour. Parents often do not perceive any value in sending their children to school, given the dismal education they receive. Instead, they prefer their children learn some skills at an early age so as to help them earn a living.
Although qualifying elementary education as a fundamental right is a welcome step, the Act itself comes with certain limitations. It is an attempt to ensure universal enrollment, with prescribed norms for elementary education. The onus of enrollment, attendance and retention of children until they complete their elementary education rests with the State. The Act crucially leaves children between 3 and 6 years of age - the most formative years of child’s life - out of its purview. 15 to 18 year olds find themselves in a similar situation, with little chance of completing their education if they cannot pay for it. The Act does not offer much to ensure learning outcomes for children, which is fundamental for any education system to be meaningful.
Therefore, CRY not only demands that the act be effectively implemented, but also urges the government to review the legislation with a view to address some of its significant gaps, thereby making education a meaningful experience for the vast majority of our children .
Summary of Study findings:
The study reveals that 11% schools did not have toilets. Only 18% schools had separate toilets for girls. In 34% schools toilets were observed to be in bad condition or unusable. Overall, most of the schools did not have separate toilets for girls and boys. Around 49% schools had common toilets for staff and students.
20% schools did not have availability of safe drinking water. 12% schools had source of drinking water (tap/hand pump) outside school premises.
Separate room for the Head Teacher:
Around 58% schools did not have separate room for head teacher.
Kitchens and Mid Day Meals:
It is mandatory to have a separate kitchen in every school preparaing the Mid Day Meal inside school premises. But in 18% schools, the Mid Day Meal was either not cooked inside a designated kitchen or did not have a kitchen space at all.
Playground and Play Materials:
However, 63% schools under the study did not have a playground. 60% sample schools overall reported absence of play materials.
School Boundary Walls:
Around 60% schools did not have boundary wall, damaged boundary wall or boundary wall was under construction.
The study shows that 74% schools did not have a library. In schools which did have a library, around 84 did not have activity books and 80% did not have story and general knowledge books.
As per the findings of the study, only 13% schools provided age appropriate admission. In most of these schools, special coaching or training was provided to the child who received age appropriate admission.
Although not required by the Act, proof of age was asked for in 61% schools and in 47% of these schools it was mandatory.
Against the norms of the RTE Act, 66% schools demanded documents for proof of previous studies at the time of admission. Around 46% of these schools asked for transfer certificate from children at the time of admission – also against the law.
School Management Committees:
9% schools did not have School Management Committees and from the schools which had formed an SMC, 9% schools could not provide minutes of SMC meeting. In around 45% primary schools (PS) and 38% upper primary schools (UPS) parents were not members of SMC. In around 59% PS and 54% UPS teachers were not members of SMC.
In 44% Primary School and 32% Upper Primary schools women were not members of SMCs. In 52% Primary Schools and 41% Upper Primary Schools parents from disadvantaged groups were not present. In 51% Primary Schools and 47% Upper Primary Schools elected representatives were not members of their SMCs. 55% sample schools under the study reported SMC not involved in preparation of school development plans. In 53% schools overall it was reported that SMCs were not involved in monitoring utilization of financial grants.
The RTE mandates one teacher each for 30 students in lower primary schools and for 35 students in the upper primary schools. The study reveals that the Pupil-Teacher Ratio was calculated as 1:39 for Primary Schools and 1:40 for Upper Primary Schools.
The study reveals that 21% PS and 17% Upper Primary School reported involvement of teachers in some or other activities related to preparation of the Mid Day Meal – which is against the law.
Only 11% Upper Primary School reported the presence of part-time instructors for art/culture/music and work education. 15% Upper Primary School reported having part-time instructors for health and physical education.
Non-availability of head teachers was reported in 28% PS and 31% Upper Primary School.
Only 35% Primary School reported having teachers who had passed their 12th or holding a Diploma in Education. Further, 56% Primary School reported having teachers who were graduates or post graduates. Moreover, 37% Upper Primary School reported having teachers who had passed their 12th or holding a Diploma in Education and 50% Upper Primary School teachers graduate or post graduate.