When the Right to Education Act was passed in 2009, it had meant functional toilets for both boys and girls, playgrounds, drinking water, barrier-free access to education and more teachers within three years.
Two days after the three-year deadline for the RTE Act implementation ended on Sunday, a mere look at most government schools, and several private schools, is enough to conclude that we have landed way off the target.
Functional toilets and drinking water facilities are conspicuous by their absence in many city schools. According to a survey by NGO JOSH, only 57% of government schools have functional toilets in schools. And only 63% of students say they have drinking water facilities.
The biggest defaulters are the government schools; most of them lack even proper classrooms and adequate teachers.
The month-end inspections of schools — parents and NGOs were allowed as per orders of the Chief Information Commissioner — revealed that most government schools lacked functional toilets. Moreover, there was no water and in a number of cases no electricity during summer. And at 100: 1, the student-teacher ratio in many of these schools was shockingly low.
“The lack of public involvement made matters worse. The government schools have worked sincerely at pushing people out and closing its doors. They have fought against parent involvement. As a result, the schools have gone from bad to worse,” said Ambarish Rai, RTE activist and the convener of the RTE forum, of which 10,000 NGOs from across the country are members.
The RTE Act also lays emphasis on integrated and quality education. The Act mandates all schools to be disabled-friendly, provide barrier-free movement for all students and employ special educators. And almost all government schools and a large number of private schools have fared pretty badly on this parameter.
But right now, barrier-free movement for disabled students is the least of the worries of a principal of a school that does not have electricity and where 100 students are being taught by one teacher.
According to RTE activist, Ashok Aggarwal, 3,000 posts for special educators are still vacant in schools across the city. As for having a healthy student-teacher ratio, finding qualified teachers is a difficult job as 93% of those who have completed their B.Ed fail the Central Teacher Eligibility Test.