Education Series – Part III

This article is the third part of the ‘Education’ series of articles. Read Part II here.

‘Education ’ is a hot topic for UPSC. Questions from this topic can be expected in the essay paper or any other general studies paper. Therefore, in order to cover various aspects and dimensions of this topic we bring to you a series of posts dedicated to this specific topic. We would be analysing the topic from multiple angles and at the same time provide data, quotes etc. related to the topic.

Wherever required, we will link the article with previous parts of the series. This will not only help our readers better understand the topic but also would assist in revision.


1

Contradictory data – a problemAccording to the 2011 Census, the number of out-of-school children in the 5-17 age group was 8.4 crore. However, according to a survey commissioned in 2014 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, the number of out-of-school children in the 6-13 age group was only 60.64 lakh. This is a gross underestimation. It is quite unlikely that the number of out-of-school children came down so drastically from 2011 to 2014, especially given that there were no significant changes in objective conditions, warranting such a miraculous reduction.

Data – (Source: Independent Study)

  • In big states like Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat etc. one-fifth of the children in the age group of 6-18 years are out of school. In Kerala, Goa, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, the proportion of out-of-school children was lower than the national average.
  • The proportion of out-of-school children was higher in rural India (17.2%) than in urban India (13.1%).
  • In rural areas, the proportion of out-of-school girls (18.3%) was higher than of boys (16.3%).
  • The proportion of children from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) was the highest, followed by Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
  • Out-of-school children came mostly from low-income, landless and marginal families — 99.34% of the families from which out-of-school children came were either landless or marginal.
  • A proportionately larger percentage of girls than boys were not enrolled. In the rural areas, the gender gap on this count was as high as 13 percentage points.

Reasons for dropping out from school – the most important reason for boys to drop out of school was to take up jobs to supplement the family earning; for girls, it was the compulsion to participate in household work. According to the RTE Act and the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, these out-of-school children fall under the category of child labour. It is, therefore, not surprising that the largest number of child labourers in the world is in India.

All the provisions of the Right to Education (RTE) Act have not been implemented (the time limit of implementation was April 2015). Following are the major concerns:

  • Distance from the schools – the RTE Act provided for the availability of a school at a distance of 1 km from the residence of the child at the primary level and 3 km at the upper primary level. If these provisions had been implemented, a major reason for drop-out (distance of school) would have been eliminated.
  • Unfriendly Environment – If all the infrastructure facilities prescribed in the Act (like sanitation, playgrounds etc.) had been put in place during the period of implementation, another reason for drop-out (environment not friendly) would have disappeared.
  • Socio-economic conditions of the parents of the children – The most important reason for drop-out (socio-economic conditions of the parents of the children) calls for a more comprehensive approach that is not reflected in the RTE Act. Until an adequate number of schools at the prescribed distances from the children’s homes becomes available, it would be necessary to provide secure modes of subsidised travel to schools, particularly for girls. Another important provision which ought to have been included in the RTE is financial support to poor parents, adequate to enable them to send their children to school. There is incontrovertible evidence of a positive correlation between economic incentives and a lower drop-out.
  • Lack of awareness – The most important social reason for drop-out is lack of awareness of the importance of school education and of the fact that education is now a right. Ironically, education is the most important instrument for creating this awareness.

Source: The Hindu


2

Onus on private unaided schools under the RTE Act:

Section 12(1)(c) of the Act mandates private unaided schools to reserve 25% of seats for children from economically weaker sections (EWS), in the age bracket of six to 14 years. This enabled economically marginalised communities to access high quality private schools, at the expense of the State.

States have to notify per-child costs to pay the private schools, on behalf of the children admitted under this provision.

As of April 2018:

  • Five States (Goa, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim and Telangana) have not even issued notifications regarding admissions under the RTE.
  • Out of 29 States and seven Union Territories, only 14 have notified their per-child costs. A shocking 20 States/UTs have still not notified the per-child costs, a blatant violation of the letter and spirit of the RTE.
  • In 2017-18, of the 15 States which submitted their reimbursement claims to the Central government, only six were approved. Many of the claims of the States were not provided funds by the Centre, as they had not notified the per-child costs.
  • 20 lakh seats should be available annually for EWS children in private schools under the Act; however only 5-6 lakh seats are being filled on an annual basis.

 

Associated issues:

  • Lack of standard methodology used by States to calculate the per-child costs.
  • Lack of coverage of ancillary costs in the reimbursements.
  • The absence of a streamlined disbursement framework both at the Central and State levels.

If the States are not provided sufficient funds, private schools would be forced to bear the costs of the children. There have been reported instances of schools refusing to admit children under the RTE provision, citing non-payment of dues by State governments.

The Central government should immediately convene a meeting with all the State education ministers and review the implementation of the law.

Source: The Hindu