“…to accept it (this truth) is to recognize that every culture contains itself its own doom unless it pays as much attention to the education of the mass of mankind as to the education of the exceptionally gifted people” –Professor Hogden in Mathematics for the million, London, 1942
I read this excerpt in Nehru’ Discovery of India and it still echoes strongly. Education has to be the priority for the masses.
The Right to Education (RTE) bill was passed in 2009 (came into force on 1 April 2010) and since then only 8% schools have come under the provision of RTE.
Now, what exactly is the Right to education anyways?
RTE makes education as a fundamental right of every child between the ages of 6 and 14. All private schools have to reserve 25% of seats for kids admitted on the basis of economic status or caste based reservations. The Central and State government (70-30 partnership, approx) will reimburse the schools for this.
I’m pretty sure many of you have forgotten that such an act even exists. Well, blame it on the poor PR skills of the previous government. And of course our amazing bureaucracy.
But we cannot solely blame the bureaucracy. If you look at the budget allocation over the years, India’s % allocation on education when compared to other countries’ is dismal. Going by data from 2012, we rank 143rd in the list of countries based on education spending as a percentage of our GDP.
On paper, RTE is revolutionary and could have helped in bringing more number of kid into primary education. Implementation has always been a key problem in our country and this is no different.
There has been a fair share of critique to this act because it’s a reform for the past. Focus on quality education and changing the outcome of what we currently dish out as the ‘final product’. If you consider numerous reports of humongous numbers like 50% of engineers are unemployable, it fits the critique too. What kind of education are we giving?
However, with a sizeable population, which doesn’t even have access to primary education screams louder, the priority has to be about fixing that. Everything, of course, needs to be done parallel but primary education needs to be fixed!
Access to primary education helps open doors to a new life for many families.
Sure, RTE has a lot of structural issues and that may be one of the reasons for its implementation as well. But this has to be part of ‘News’ and ‘debates’ instead of whether we’ll get to see a temple/Mosque in Ayodhya.
This is just a start to understanding RTE and reforms around education. I’d love if you have any valuable inputs to add to this. This might not be much but we can do our bit. Right?