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Education in disarray in MP

According to an extensive appraisal of the state of implementation of various provisions of the Right to Education Act, the position in Madhya Pradesh is far from satisfactory. During a daylong workshop held at Bhopal, NGOs made presentations to justify their contention. These NGOs carried out broad-based surveys in various districts of the state. The surveys carried out by various NGOs covered almost all the districts of the state. Spokesmen of various organisations, who made presentations at the workshop, stated that Madhya Pradesh has failed to create requisite infrastructure for the implementation of the Right to Education Act. In 2010, the Central government gave three years to the state government to create various facilities to enable the implementation of the act.

The broad yardsticks for the creation of infrastructure are provided in the Act. According to the RTE, primary schools should have one teacher for 30 students. But up to 2012, in 43 per cent of the primary schools, the teacher-student ratio was much lower than what the Act stipulates. There are six per cent schools, which are manned by a single teacher.

The teacher-student ratio in middle school should be one teacher for 35 students. But in 37 per cent of schools, this ratio is not maintained. In fact, 11 per cent middle schools are run by a single teacher. According to the Act, in primary schools, teaching should be done for at least 200 days in a year and in middle schools for 220 days. Teacher should teach for 45 hours in a week. Among the schools surveyed, only in 8 percent teachers taught for 45 hours in a week.

According to RTE, there should be one room where teachers can hold their classes and there should be separate room for the head master. But there are only 10 per cent schools, which have requisite number of rooms. Survey revealed that there are 41 per cent schools which are run in two rooms only and there are 15 per cent primary schools in which classes from first to fifth are held in one room. Only 35 per cent middle schools have adequate number of rooms. There are 27 per cent middle schools, which have only two rooms and 4 per cent middle schools, which have only one room.

RTE says that there should be separate toilets for boys and girls. According to the survey 76 per cent of schools have toilets. But out of these, only 50 per cent have separate toilets for girls. One of the important findings was that parents withdraw their grown up daughters from school which do not have separate toilets for girls. RTE expects schools to provide safe drinking water to children. But in practice, only 33 per cent schools have drinking water facility.
Playgrounds are a must for a school. Till 2013, 17 per cent schools did not have their own playgrounds.

The RTE says that schools should have boundary walls. But till April 2013, 76 per cent schools did not have boundary walls. Lack of boundary walls leave schools building unsafe. Additionally, they are misused by anti-social elements in the night. The RTE provides that schools should have a school management Committee. Many schools have school management committees but their meetings are not held regularly.

The survey covered a select numbers of schools. But experts claim that the findings do reflect the picture prevailing in government schools located in rural areas. The survey also revealed that despite the provision to the contrary, 68 per cent schools denied admissions because parents failed to produce transfer certificates or birth certificates.

The RTE provides that children of the migrants be given admission in schools. In the initial stages, there was reluctance on the part of schools, but later situation has improved considerably and migrant’s wards are getting admission.

The Act prohibits all types of physical punishments. Out of the surveyed school, in more than 36 per cent school students are punished.
The survey covered 121 schools located in ten districts. The surveyed schools included 93 primary and 28 middle schools.

According to a paper presented by Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS), caste and tribal ethnicity remain strong markers in education. It is found that the enrollment and retention rates among children in school going age from excluded and marginalised communities, mainly Dalits, Muslims and other backward communities is extremely low. Their problems in accessing education in rural areas are more acute as their children confront issues of access and quality including the issue of language.

In this context, BGVS chose to develop a model for addressing the issue of access and developing strategies and methodologies and field actions to afford quality elementary education for children from these excluded communities especially in the areas which are extremely economically, socially and educationally backward and have scheduled castes and minority groups present in significant numbers.

BGVS is focusing on two of the major issues of elementary education — lack of access and poor quality of schools for children from socially and educationally backward communities who are persistently out of school or are finding it difficult to retain in schools due to lack of learning opportunities and culturally alien environment. Most of the children from Dalit and Muslim are first-generation learners speaking in different dialects and find it difficult to follow mainstream curriculum and discipline of learning.

In addition, teachers are also not trained to work with such children and are not oriented to bring out the children’s natural learning abilities. Thus, several aspects of learning need to be addressed simultaneously at family, community, school, teachers and children’s levels.
It was observed by BGVS that even though awareness on education had increased at community level and there is an enhancement in enrolment rates, yet in general, one-third of the girls dropped out from schools.
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