Passed by House in August, Right to Education Yet to be Law
Akshaya Mukul, TNN 6 January 2010, 12:29am IST

NEW DELHI: The Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act was billed to be a giant leap towards universalization of education in India. However, it has acquired the dubious distinction of being the only fundamental right that exists just on paper More than seven years after the Constitution was amended in 2002 to make free and compulsory education to children in the age group of 6-14 a fundamental right and over four months after the historic Right to Education Bill was passed in Parliament, both the legislations are yet to be notified.

Without notification — a mandatory step in that into force — the right to free and compulsory education remains just a goal.

All along, the reason given for not notifying the constitutional amendment was that a law to enforce the fundamental right was not in place. Two years of NDA regime and five years of UPA 1 were spent quibbling over the cost of implementing such a legislation. The bill was finally passed by Parliament last August. Strangely, there is yet no movement towards notification.

HRD minister Kapil Sibal has been saying that the face of education will change completely with RTE Act. He is right. However, the trouble is that the objective will remain a distant dream so long as the great ideas of the legislation lack any legal teeth.

The ostensible reason for the delay in notifying the Act is that its cost is still being worked out. But those associated with its implementation point out that even as the cost is being debated there are other significant things that could have been done by notifying the RTE Act. HRD ministry has pegged the cost of RTE at Rs 1.71 lakh crore for five years. “Many reforms in the RTE Act do not cost money. Now if it is notified in the end of March to be applicable from April 1, state governments will be caught unawares. They will be unprepared without budget allocations. That could be a setback. Early notification would have helped put a system in place,” a source said.

What happens if the Act is not notified? For one, all systemic reforms laid out in the RTE Act cannot be put in place without notification. These include maintaining a teacher-student ratio of 1:30. “If the Act was in place, steps could have been taken for redeployment of teachers to attain the stipulated ratio. This could have helped bridge the urban-rural imbalance in teacher-student ratio,” a source said.

Similarly, provisions in section 29 of the Act that deal with curriculum and examination reforms could have been put in place. This section aims to free the child from the trauma of examinations and introduce comprehensive and continuous evaluation. It also talks of new learning methods. Even implementing the provision on setting up school management committees with adequate representation of parents would have acted as a watchdog, said sources.

“These provisions would have cost no money and yet are huge steps forward for systemic reforms,” a source pointed out.

In the absence of notification, the HRD ministry for the past four months has been working on framing model rules for RTE and has set up a committee that will recommend how to harmonize the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan with RTE

RTE bane: 12L Teacher Vacancies
Akshaya Mukul , TNN 25 December 2009, 08:59pm IST

NEW DELHI: The biggest stumbling block which might come in the way of the success of the Right to Education Act could be 7.72 lakh untrained teachers and vacancy for 12.06 lakh teachers across the country.

HRD ministry has now got down to unravelling the problem so that adequate steps are taken when RTE is implemented from the next academic year.

Early this week, the ministry’s round table on school education took stock of the matter and found great disparities among states when it comes to quality of teachers. Under Right to Education, 5.1 lakh additional teachers are required to maintain the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) of 30:1. Right now, 5.29 lakh schools (53.2% of the total schools) have PTR of more than 30:1.

Categorising states into three groups, the ministry said while 13 states have adequate teacher education capacity, seven north-eastern states have high percentage of untrained teachers and modest teacher education capacity. The worst off are eight states which have a high number of untrained teachers and inadequate teacher education capacity.

Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand are the states with very low level of untrained teachers. These states put together need 2.33 lakh new teachers and have to train 94,000 in-service teachers.

Karnataka has the distinction of having no untrained teacher while Delhi, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have less than 1% untrained teachers.

In the second group are the north-eastern states of Arunachal, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. While the vacancy in these seven states is a mere 3,161 teachers, they need to train 72,000 teachers.

The real problem, however, is in Bihar, Assam, Chhattisgarh, J&K, Jharkhand, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. While in Assam, 55% teachers are untrained, Bihar has more than 45% and West Bengal 32.15% untrained teachers. Together these states have 6.06 lakh untrained teachers and vacancy for 9.73 lakh new teachers. In case of Assam, the ministry found that Lakhimpur district has 70% untrained teachers, Nagaon 64.26%, Karbi Anglong 88.48%, Dhemaji 74.5% and Dhubri 68.48% untrained teachers.

In Bihar, Katihar and Siwan have nearly 60% untrained teachers followed by more than 50% untrained in Muzaffarpur, Saran, Gaya and Darbhanga.

Cost of Right to Education: Rs 1.78 lakh crore |

Akshaya Mukul, TNN 29 September 2009, 02:41am IST

NEW DELHI: After the euphoria comes the real test. The cost of implementing the historic Right to Education Act over the next five years by Centre and states works out to a whopping Rs 1.78 lakh crore.

The new law will come into force from the next academic year and since right to education is now a fundamental right, it is mandatory on the part of the government to provide what is demanded.

HRD ministry sources say the total demand of Rs 1.78 lakh crore when finetuned will only work out roughly to just one-third of the staggering amount. They said that nearly Rs 50,000 crore can be provided to the kitty by the Centre and states from the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan fund. This brings the demand down to Rs 1.28 lakh crore. The ministry expects that in the 12th Plan nearly Rs 60,000 crore will be allocated to SSA. But this will still leave the effective demand to Rs 68,000 crore. Then again, Centre will have the tough task of persuading the states to step forward to share the cost of fulfilling the commitment.

On Friday, HRD ministry sent the proposal to the finance ministry and a copy to the 13th Finance Commission for early perusal. But sources expect a long winter of discussion and negotiation with states, finance ministry and Planning Commission before it can be finalised. The focus of discussion will be the funding pattern of RTE. Currently, SSA is funded by the Centre and states in the ratio of 60:40. It will be 50:50 by the 12th Plan.

In case of RTE, chief ministers are already gearing up to do a collective bargaining. Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has written to PM Manmohan Singh demanding that the funding pattern for RTE should be 90:10 between Centre and states. He has circulated the letter to other CMs as well. Earlier, Orissa CM Naveen Patnaik had demanded a 75:25 funding pattern for RTE between Centre and states. Bihar has also said it cannot bear the extra burden since it is already shelling out 25% of its annual budget on education.

The demand for additional Rs 68,000 crore will go towards improving the infrastructure in schools, student-teacher ratio and in hiring more teachers. While SSA has a student-teacher ratio of 40:1, RTE stipulates a ratio of 30:1. The RTE law stipulates that from class one to class five, if a school has 60 children there should be two teachers, for 61 to 90 children there should be three teachers, and for 91 to 120 children there should be four teachers. There are similar stipulations in case of buildings, working days, play material, games and sports equipment.