November 23, 2014

Teachers' Federation Calls for Strengthening of RTE Act

THE School Teachers' Federation of India (STFI) organised a national education convention on November 13 in New Delhi's Constitution Club. The slogans were 'Strengthen and Implement the RTE Act, and Save and Uphold the Public Education'. CPI(M) MP Sitaram Yechury inaugurated the convention and Abhijit Mukherjee, the president of STFI, presided over it. Professor Anil Sadgopal, presidium member of all-India forum for right to education, and Professor Santa Sinha, former chairperson of NCPCR, delivered special address at the convention. STFI secretary A K Unnikrishnan presented the welcome address and general secretary K Rajendran presented the resolution. Around 300 delegates from all over India attended the convention. After the discussions of the delegates, a resolution of demand on education was unanimously adopted by the convention. C N Bharti, treasurer of STFI, delivered the vote of thanks. The convention appealed to all participants and the entire teaching community and well-wishers of education to move towards nationwide movements with all forms of agitation. Strengthen and Implement RTE Act Right to Education is a part of human rights. The demand for Right to Education has been there since pre-independence era. After six decades of continuous demand and movements, The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act was enacted in 2009. But due to negligence of successive governments at the Centre and in many states, the Act remains a non-starter. Moreover, the present BJP-led NDA regime at the Centre is consciously ignoring the RTE. As per the schedule, all provisions of the RTE should be implemented within five years i.e. up to April 2015. Now the fourth year is passing, but major provisions have not come into practice. More than one crore children (aged between 6 and 14 years) are still out of school. Repeated reports of NUEPA, Pratham, etc. remarked that around half of the schools have no basic infrastructure. Union HRD minister Smriti Irani also stated that 50 percent of schools have no toilet and drinking water facilities, and that there is an acute shortage of teachers. Private schools are not implementing Section-2 (n) (iv) of the Act i.e. to fill 25 percent of seats with children belonging to the weaker section. Besides all these lapses, allotment of insufficient funds is a major hurdle. Taking account of the situation, a strong and wider movement has to be organised to put pressure on the authorities concerned to implement the RTE Act on war-footing. Strengthen the Act to overcome the weakness and gaps to achieve the objective of equal and quality education to all. STFI appeals to the central government to implement the RTE Act effectively and include the following demands: 1. Expand the RTE from pre-primary to higher secondary (3-18 years of age) and make mother tongue the medium of instruction in primary level, 2. Provide basic infrastructure and facilities to state-funded schools, 3. Allocate required funds to meet all provisions of RTE Act. In the ratio 10:90 for North-Eastern states and 20:80 for rest of India, 4. Reduce teacher-pupil ration to 1:20 in Kendriya and Navodaya Vidyalayas, 5. Recruit regular teachers and regularise all temporary teachers. No non-academic work will be allotted to teachers. 10 percent excess teachers should be appointed to fill up long leave and vacancies of regular teachers, 6. Allocate minimum 6% of GDP and 10% of central budget for education, 7. Raise the budget of Mid-Day Meal by Rs 10 per student, 8. Make efforts for IT-enabled education and computer-aided teaching and learning, 9. Withdraw PPP-model educational institutions and strengthen and establish state-funded educational institutions, and 10. Abolish Teacher Eligibility Test and withdraw the Pension Fund Regulatory & Development Authority (PFRDA) Act. Save and Uphold Public Education Education is the key sector to the development of human society. All developed countries have education in public sector. If India wants more development, education should be in public sector as its majority population is poor. Public education is the tool to achieve Constitutional objectives. But in our country the public education is in disarray. The number of government schools is decreasing year by year. Private schools are mushrooming. Private corporate educational institutions are becoming commercial agencies by collecting more and more money from parents. Private schools not only commercialising education, they are diluting the common education system also. Unequal opportunities are growing rapidly. It is being fuelled by the Narendra Modi government by opening doors to FDI in education sector. It should be resisted. Hence the public education must be saved and upheld. Fight against Communalisation Of Education The BJP government is striving to implement their own communal agenda in education. A wider network is working vigorously underground. But we can see some symptoms on the surface. The HRD minister said that the entire education system should be renovated to meet the aspirations and dreams of the Prime Minister. Dinanath Batra, who is an academic outsource to the Gujarat government, has submitted a proposal to remove the secular and progressive thoughts in the education spectrum. The HRD minister says that 'Vedas' and 'Upanishad' should be taught, Justice A R Dubey suggests inclusion of Bhagavat lessons in school syllabus. "Now the country needs gurus not teachers," the HRD minister said at a symposium in Hyderabad on August 26. The HRD ministry is preparing to extend the Gujarat model of teachers training to all states. The NDA government is trying to hand over the supply of Mid-Day Meal to religious institutions. These are some motives. If this kind of trends materialise, the secular and democratic system of education may be demolished. This retrograde threat should be stopped. Hence, fight against communalisation and commercialisation of education should be organised in all corners of the country. (END)