Implementation of the Right To Education Act (2010) has failed to gather momentum in the state even as the deadline for equipping schools with necessary infrastructure and teachers as per provisions of the Act by March 31 draws nearer.
The deadline set by the Centre might be pushed further as the key requirements of the Act such as allotment of 25 per cent seats for economically weaker sections (EWS) of society at entry level, are being overlooked by almost all private schools.
In urban areas such as Hyderabad, there have been no checks on capitation fee being charged by schools for admission and also on admission tests and parents’ interview. While these factors fall under the purview of RTE, there has been no monitoring mechanism.
“So far, the state government has conducted meetings only in some of the mandals and sent circulars on the provisions under the RTE. There has been no training or orientation for teachers, nor have we received any directives so far. No modalities on mechanisms of fee reimbursement have been worked out by the state government for admissions for EWS students either,” says Sangeetha Varma, general secretary of AP Recognised Schools’ Management Association.
The private school managements insist that other provisions under the RTE - such as no detention policy, no denial of admission or TC and a pupil teacher ratio of 30 is to 1 - have been in place as per the state government GOs and guidelines on the requirements for running a school.
The annual status of education report (ASER) released by NGO Pratham earlier this year indicates that though AP has fared well on the aspects of implementation of RTE Act between 2010 and 2012, the compliance of teacher-students ratio has taken a dip at 56.4 per cent in 2012, as compared to 61.7 per cent in 2010.
Clarity on aspects of 25 per cent EWS quota is still awaited, though states such as Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have been proactive in implementing the provision. “This aspect is on a stand-still considering the sum of reimbursements involved. Small private schools should not go the way of some of the engineering colleges in state which subsist on the reimbursement provided by state government. Also, private schools do not guarantee quality education per-se,” observes Isidore Phillips, chief functionary of the NGO Divya Disha which is a member of state academic support group of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).
However, the ASER indicates that the rate of enrollment in private schools in the state is higher as compared to the national average and neighbouring states.
A high-ranking official at SSA also observed that the implementation of 25 per cent reservation in private schools would lead to reduced enrolment in government schools.