Exclusion in learning remains, despite RTE Act
Certain social groups continue to be excluded from India’s education system despite the Right to Education Act which was brought in to ensure equal access to education for all, says a new report. These groups include ‘child in need of care and protection, orphan children, CWSN, child labourers, transgender children, HIV+ children amongst others’. The report titled Bright Spots: Status of Social Inclusion through RTE says that while section 12(1)(c) of the 2009 legislation is supposed to cover both economically and socially disadvantaged sections of the society, certain groups continue to be more neglected among the marginalised. For instance, in Delhi, in 2018, less than 1% of admissions were under the disadvantaged category.
According to Tarun Cherukuri, founder, Indus Action, the non-profit organization which was at the helm of framing this report, there has been significant gradation in how the Act has been implemented across different states.
“Given that education is a state subject, respective state governments have used different mechanisms for the efficient implementation this Act and this report aims to capture the best practices employed by some states,” he said.
The report shows that few states have outperformed others in the implementation process thereby having greater total enrolments in comparison to the available seats. On the other hand, implementation has been especially slow in key states like Uttar Pradesh which accounts for 26% of total seats in the country accounts for only 1.9% of all enrolments.
The performance of the RTE implementing states was assessed on three parameters, namely, policy framing, operations and reimbursements. Indus Action received assistance from on-ground partner organizations for some data gathering while EY Foundation and PVR Nest were among the corporate social responsibility (CSR) partners.
According to the report, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Gujarat were among states that were able to achieve a higher level of success in operations thereby leading to a high number of admissions relative to the total number of seats every year.
Some of the factors that had led to efficient on-ground implementation included support of civil society groups and organisations such as NGOs, parent-student associations, RTE forums and collectives have been involved and a well-defined lottery logic among other support mechanisms.
Explains Cherukuri, “Certain states had moved the entire process online with efficient management information systems (MIS) and there is a lot of opportunity to consolidate each state’s learning of how they handle these systems.”
However, certain challenges remained and these include barriers to access of information, documentation requirements to gain admission, lack of designated application centres, a general lack of transparency in online portals and certain kinds of non-compliance on the part of some states such as not sharing adequate information with the central government as well as the lack of a structured grievance redressal mechanism.
For states that may not have adequate infrastructure to execute the Act, the compilation of best practices aims to be a starting point of reference.
“The RTE Act is an opportunity for disadvantaged groups to access education through a low-cost and replicable model and creating an informed data resource about the same is crucial,” concluded Sonu Iyer, People Advisory Services, EY.