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Issue No.: 559 | January 2014
 

Implementation – Finance

Suresh C. Sharma
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A pilot study by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights [NCPCR] has revealed that 95% of the private schools have not complied with the provision of admitting EWS students

The Right to Education Act (19): This is nineteenth in a series, examining the various aspects

Adequate funds and judicious utilization are essential for the success of a project. The Central Government is to meet 70% of the cost of RTE Act and the remaining cost is to be borne by the States. Some of the state governments have expressed difficulty in meeting their share. The HRD Ministry had projected a demand for Rs.2,31,233 crores over five years. The amount sanctioned for one year was only Rs.34,000 crores based on an estimate of Rs.1,71,000 crores and the amount allotted was Rs.15,000 crores. This is probably based on the failure of state governments to absorb the allotment as Rs.10,000 crore had been left unspent from the previous year. That brings the amount available to Rs. 25,000 crore, still short of the estimate.

The major deficiency in the utilization of funds is in the provision of class rooms and recruitment of teachers. No allowance has been made for population growth. There is need to consider whether free education should be limited only to two children per family. 25% students from Economically Weak Sections [EWS] have to be given free education. Expenses for their education will be reimbursed by the state governments. This does not include expenses for capital expenses. Substantial amount will be required for major repairs or expansion of infrastructure. The shortfall in allotment of funds may not be a major roadblock since only 18 crore children are likely to enrol themselves in schools out of a children’s population of 25 crores.

Assuming admission of ten EWS students per school per year in 1.5 schools, the reimbursement would be Rs 1,500 crores at Rs 10,000 per student. Some schools have experienced delay in receipt of reimbursement funds for EWS students. School Management Committees are required to monitor utilization of funds. Inspection by an NGO ‘Forum for Fairness in Education’, revealed that only one out of seventeen hostels sanctioned was functioning properly. In one case, students from the neighbourhood were brought in for inspection. Similar malpractice has been observed in claims for reimbursement or grants. In one State, the government has sent notice to 1500 schools for claiming funds by falsely showing a larger number of students. In some cases, the number of students was 50% of the claimed figure. Similar malpractices have been observed in claims for mid-day meals.

The Bihar Government has obtained Rs. 1,400 crores aid from World Bank for 70% costs of teachers training programme and school buildings. One thousand high school buildings are planned to be constructed in village Panchayats. The scheme aims at 100% enrolment up to class XII. The surprising point is that aid is being obtained from theWorld Bank while allotment from own resources remain unutilized. 

The Mumbai Municipal Corporation [BMC] wants to provide books, notebooks, shoes, uniforms and umbrellas to students up to Class X. A proposal to transfer money based on Aadhaar Cards fell through since datawas not available with the BMC. Doubts were also raised whether the money would be diverted for other use. In UP, the Chief Minister gave away laptops costing Rs. 19,000 each free to students. No amount was left for notebooks. Students were told to buy their own notebooks and teachers were advised to write questions on the board. On both counts of funding and utilization, the performance has been far from satisfactory. We can appreciate that we cannot suddenly move away from the malaise of bad governance and ineffective management. The attempt is there and participation of parents in the Management Committees may be of help to improve the system.

EWS Category

A pilot study by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights [NCPCR] has revealed that 95% of the private schools have not complied with the provis ionof admitting EWS students. The reasons are delay in government orders defining EWS category, lack of awareness amongst the entitled students, lack of schools near their residence and apprehension of parents about discrimination in elite schools. In some states, a child can claim admission in private schools only if no seats are available in government schools. The fees are free but the cost of books, uniform and transport is to be paid by the students. If the government forces the schools to provide these facilities free to the EWS students, the schools may well opt out of this responsibility. The principal of a reputed school in South Mumbai commented that some people are making use of seats for EWS students by obtaining false certificates of income. There have also been allegations of schools offering money to parents in lieu of admissions. These aberrations may decline as the scheme progresses and people become aware of their rights. A few schools may try to reclassify themselves as minority schools. The middle rung schools are quite comfortable regarding finance as their fee structure is about the same as in government schools and sometimes even lower. It is for this reason that schools in small towns and rural areas have fared better in admission of EWS children. Their genuine worry is that the EWS children may not do well in studies due to lack of proper environment at home. A large number of children take private tuitions after school hours and would certainly
perform better.

A study group had recommended to the Central Government that EWS quota be further divided on caste basis.This may cause discrimination against SC/ST and economic considerations would be a better criteria. Reservation starts from post nursery classes. Schools with nursery classes will have difficulty in sparing seats for fresh students in primary classes since in fairness they have to accommodate their own students. They may have
to commence one more section.

The annual income criteria decided by the various states for EWS category is as under:




The figures above 1 lac are unrealistic and may be challenged in court. This is perhaps an attempt by the education bureaucracy to ensure benefits for themselves. Social activists are agitating against denial of reservation in convents and minority schools. Allotment of land at confessional rates and relief in taxation amounts to aid. These schools should be subject to reservation for EWS, all the more so since they believe in charity for the poor. It is certain that good schools would be under pressure from the parents of EWS children.

Teachers

The two most important requirements for good education are committed teachers and willing students.Rightly, government has introduced Common Eligibility Test [CET] in addition to the existing Teaching Ability Test.The results of these tests are shocking. Only 11% teachers could qualify in these tests. 631 posts of teachers are vacant in Mumbai alone. Some schools do not have even a principal. Children of one school demonstrated after taking off their shirts "You have given us books but no teachers.” The NMMC came up with a good initiative to extend classes till Class VIII in the primary section, but qualified teachers have not been recruited due to bureaucratic delay. The Maharashtra Government tried to solve the problem by appointing ad hoc teachers who had to go on strike due to non-payment of salaries. The appointment of ad hoc teachers has been criticized by the courts. Government schools continue to suffer due to a single teacher taking classes for students of different grades in one class room.

The example of students in a school in Mumbai illustrates the problems vividly. A social activist helped 21 children to get admission in a government school. They walk a few kms daily to the school. Earlier they were begging or picking rags. They sit in a corner without books or teacher. The RTE Act directs admission to class according to age. Since they have not attended nursery classes, they are unable to cope with studies. They will drop out soon.

BRIG. SURESH C. SHARMA (retd) is adviser to the telecom
industry, and a memberof the Advisory Board of Freedom First. 
Email: brigscs@gmail.com
 
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