Maharashtra has done a poor job of implementing the Right to Education (RTE) Act, said educationists, as the legislation completes three years on Monday.
Activists said the state has not enforced more than 40% of the Act’s provisions.
To meet the March 31, 2013, Supreme Court deadline for the implementation of the Act, the education department hurriedly issued two government resolutions in February and March - the first on Teacher Eligibility Test, an entrance exam for aspirant teachers, and the second which reserves 25% seats in schools for children from economically weak families.
However, other requirements remain unfulfilled. A major failure is the non-implementation of the pupil-teacher ratio. The recommended ratio is 30:1 up to Class 5, but it remains 60:1. “In 2011, the government sanctioned 35,000 new teachers’ posts, but they have not been filled,” said Vasant Kalpande, former chairperson of Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education.
The state has failed to ensure that all schools have facilities for students with special learning needs. Nearly 60% of Mumbai’s schools don’t offer these facilities, say activists. MLC Ramnath Mote said there is no check or action against schools that have not created ramps or appointed special educators for such students. “Many schools don’t have playgrounds, large classrooms, computer labs,” he said.
Activists alleged the state was doing little to publicise the Act and make people aware of their rights. “Even educated people are not aware of RTE Act,” said Jayant Jain, president of Forum for Fairness in Education, which filed a PIL challenging the exclusion of unaided minority institutes from the Act.
A Kale, special project director, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan and nodal authority for RTE Act implementation, said it is difficult to check whether the Act has been implemented successfully. “There are 1.81 lakh schools in the state, so it’s tough,” he said.