What the Children Are Saying
The RTE Act has been a tough learning curve for all stakeholders. Here’s a chronicle of their experiences
This summer, many parents in urban India are worried about whether the 25 percent quota for underprivileged children in private schools will snatch away their child’s right to an education. In nearby slums, parents of children with little or no schooling are feeling hopeful that the 12 April Supreme Court order to allow their children into private schools will entitle them to a better future. However, this is only one small slice of the complicated Right to Education ( RTE) story.
Many parents are not aware that RTE enables every child between ages 6 and 14 the right to a free education of a certain basic minimum quality. They don’t know that RTE entitles them to form management committees and set goals for their child’s school and monitor the use of funds. And that Panchayati Raj institutions at the block, district and village levels are the redressal mechanisms to go to if a teacher hits a child or doesn’t turn up for work.
While much has been written about RTE in the past two years since Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal proudly announced its enactment, the people it is meant to serve haven’t had enough space to say what they have been through. How many kids who are struggling under the lamplight and in the dark are really getting to learn to read and write? How many that did crash through that glass ceiling successfully integrate with kids with cars and ipods? What has that interaction produced? These pages won’t have all the answers. But they do chronicle some very telling experiences. Of parents and children and also educationists, all grappling with the brave new idea of the RTE and its various failings on the ground.