CHALLENGES AHEAD TO IMPLEMENT RESERVATION FOR MARGINALIZED SECTIONS IN PVT SCHOOLS; LONG TERM SOLUTION LIES IN STRENGTHENING STATE RUN SCHOOL EDUCATION SYSTEM

New Delhi, April 20: The provision of 25 percent
reservation for economically and socially weaker section in private schools
under the RTE Act is an important clause that allows integration of these
children with private school system.

However
this clause should not allow the government to abdicate its responsibility to
provide not only free and compulsory but quality education to

all the children
from 6-14 years of age.

More
than 80 per cent of the children continue to study in government schools in India whose
quality of education has often been a great cause of concern.

According
to Annual Status Report of Education 2011, quoted by the union government
itself in its Annual Economic Survey 2011-12:

  • 56
    per cent of the schools in India
    still have no separate toilets for girls
  • 28.6
    per cent of the schools still do not have libraries
  • 60
    per cent of the schools still do not comply with the Teachers pupil ratio
    of 1:30 as stipulated in the RTE Act
  • 28
    per cent of the schools have no playground
  • 16.6
    per cent of the schools have no provision for drinking water
  • Around
    45 per cent of the schools do not have even their own boundary wall
  • More
    than half of standard 2 and standard 4 classes sit together with another class.

The
Centre has already come out with model rules which explain in detail the modus
operandi of implementation of provision of 25 per cent reservation for children
belonging to economically and socially weaker section in private schools as
provided in the RTE Act

Education
being a subject in the state list, the challenge is to ensure that all the
states come out with effective state rules to implement this provision at the
ground level.

The
resulting guidelines from these Rules should not only ensure integration of
children from marginalised sections of society in the private schools but
should also ensure their protection from discrimination within these school
systems  – what mechanisms will be in place to ensure that children
from marginalised are not discriminated in any form and their
dignity are protected?

Mere
incorporation of a provision within the Act will not automatically lead to its
implementation in a manner that is meaningful and relevant for these children.

In fact,
the 25% reservation clause is fraught with challenges and raises many questions
which need to be answered.

Apart
from tuition fees, which will be free, children studying in private schools
have to pay money for a range of activities and items throughout the year. Who
will pay for them? What about mid day meals for these children?

What
will a child do after 8th Standard? The government will not pay after the child
turns 14. In this scenario, the child will either take admission in a
Government school or drop out of schooling altogether. Are we ready with a
solution for the problem of dropouts? After class 8, will these children pushed
out from the private schools? How will they adjust in government schools
at this stage?

How
do we ensure that the children from the marginalised sections who get admission
under the reservation system get integrated with other children and do not face
any kind of discrimination in classrooms?

The
private schools, State and the civil society would have to come together, join
hands and find viable solutions to all these questions. Otherwise the
implementation of the provision for reservation for children would not yield
desirable results.

So
while the government  needs to put a strict and effective monitoring and
implementation system in place to implement the 25 per cent reservation in
private schools for children from economically and socially weaker sections. In
this context it is also necessary to reinforce that the
principal responsibility for ensuring universalisation of elementary
education lies with the government.

For more information,
please contact Arun Anand: arun.anand@crymail.org or call +91 11
3017 4700.

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