Lawyer Ashok Aggarwal has fought various court battles for right to education (RTE) for all. He is also part of Social Jurist, a group of lawyers and activists working in the field of education and child labour.
How would you rate the implementation of RTE in Delhi?
The implementation of RTE in the entire country has been a failure and the problems are not new. This has been the story since 1950. Those manning government schools are not concerned as they send their children to private ones. The three-year timeline was just propaganda.
What are the basic areas where the effort is lacking?
The government schools are not fulfilling the basic need — of imparting education. There is no teaching in schools. If a teacher is not doing his/her job, why should parents send their children to school? Schemes such as the mid-day meal and free uniforms will not attract children. Anyone with even the slightest capability is sending their children to private schools. The distribution of teachers between villages and cities is totally skewed.
Are there important areas that are not covered by the RTE?
The status of children and education below the age of six is a huge gap. A number of government and all private schools start admission before this age. While Delhi has tried to regulate the nursery admission process, most other states have nothing in this regard. Even Delhi’s point system formula is discriminatory.
How can better implementation of the Act be ensured?
Firstly, a system of accountability needs to be established. Monetary grants to schools should be stopped if there’s inefficiency. Secondly, there needs to be an effective grievance redressal system. These days, a parent can’t complain anywhere and expect justice. The most important thing, however, is to raise the level of schools. Schools such as Kendriya Vidyalayas and the Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalayas show the government has the blueprint for running successful schools. A Delhi High Court division bench in 2005-06 gave an order, asking the Delhi government to replicate the Kendriya Vidyalaya management structure in Delhi government schools.