According to the report entitled: Status of Implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009: The Delhi Story 2012-2013, prepared by Joint Operation for Social Help (JOSH) and OXFAM and financed by VSO India:
• The present report attempts to understand the progress made on the implementation of the Right to Education Act made in the State of Delhi. 31st March, 2013 is the deadline for the implementation of RTE provisions in Delhi.
• A pan-Delhi survey of lower and lower middle-class neighborhoods and government schools to ascertain the state of implementation of various RTE provisions was undertaken by a large group of very capable and highly motivated young volunteers, coming from some of the most prestigious colleges of Delhi like IIT Delhi, St. Stephens, Delhi School of Economics, LSR, Hindu, Ramjas, Delhi College of Engineering, RLA, TERI University etc. Some students from Presidency College Kolkata, NUS Singapore and Punjab University also participated. Overall, about 60 volunteers became a part of the project which was conducted between Nov 2012 and Feb 2013.
• The present report is prepared based on the empirical data collected both through structured questionnaires as well as interviews and observations recorded by the surveyors.
• The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education was passed in 2009 by the Government of India.
• After the Constitutional Amendment in 2002, India enacted the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act in 2009. It was notified and came into effect in the whole of the country on the 1st of April 2010.
• The student volunteers were divided into 6 teams comprising of 8-10 members each. Each team covered about 200 households and 5 schools. The total number of household covered by the study is 1425. And the total number of schools covered is 29 schools.
• The districts covered in the survey are: North (Timarpur), North West (Rithala: Bengali Bazar, Pal Colony), South (Nizamuddin: Nizamuddin basti; Malviya Nagar: Valmiki Camp, Indira Camp), South West (Munirka: MN Camp, Saraswati Camp), Central (Daryaganj: Maulana Azad basti, Takia Kale Khan basti) and East (Trilokpuri).
The data gathered clearly showed that many provisions of the RTE Act have not been fully implemented in a majority of the government schools in Delhi. The performance of schools vis-à-vis the Act also exhibited inter-district variations.
• Central to Right to Education Act is access to free and compulsory education to all children between 6-14 years. However, in Delhi, access still remains a challenge, especially for the most marginalized.
• Even almost three years of implementation of the Act, a significant percentage of parents have reported that some money has been taken from them, either in the name of admission fee or other heads during the academic year, without any receipts being issued.
• The two areas were very few or almost negligible number of parents reported admission form fee or admission fee been charged were Munirka and Trilokpuri. However, these parents and children in these areas reported other forms of fee like PTA funds, exam fees, ID cards etc were still been charged.
• Apart from admission related concerns, another worrying aspect is that even now 14% of the children have not been admitted to a class appropriate to their age.
• Several instances were found where a child who once dropped out of school for some reasons was not able to get re-admitted for the want of proper documents.
• The data indicates: a. Shortage of teachers in almost all schools across Delhi; b. Presence of contract teachers; c. Teacher not trained on CCE; and d. Lack of teachers for extracurricular activities.
• Teachers in almost all schools spent a large amount of their teaching time doing non teaching duties. The non teaching duties include, election duty, census duty, polio campaign and so on. Teachers also reported to be spending considerable amount of time doing clerical work within the school.
• At some places children (mostly girls) belonging to a particular group were asked to clean the classrooms, toilets and there were complaints of discrimination. Cases of discrimination were reported in bastis of Central Delhi, Rithala and others.
• The data indicates that 46% of children reported to be beaten up by their teachers in school.
c. Quality and Classroom Transaction
• Children reported that teachers often did not teach, instead encouraged them to take up private tuitions. Most areas reported parents to be spending Rs. 300-400 in a month for private tuition despite extreme economic conditions.
• Responses from children, parents and surveyors’ visit to the school point to the fact that provisions of basic facilities like clean and functional toilets, drinking water still remains a challenge. Children carried water bottles from their homes and both girls and boys complained of unhygienic condition of toilets in their schools. Several case studies of children failing ill or not attending school due to poor infrastructure facilities, from the different districts explicitly reveal the status.
• Most children when asked said that they don’t ask their teachers for doubts and explanations for the fear for been reprimanded. Corporal punishment in the form of both mental and physical abuse was found to be rampant in almost all the areas.
• Most children reported that their schools had library facilities, though only 35% reported that they were allowed to access the library and borrow books. Only 18% of children were given any sports equipments to play with.
• Cases of discrimination which has led to children dropping out were also reported in many of the areas surveyed.
• Provision of scholarships was also found to be a big challenge, where parents though reported to be receiving the scholarship, however, the amount varied widely. Most of the time the children would receive only a fraction of the entitlement, for which various reasons were cited by the schools.
• Only 23% of children reported that they had children with special needs-CWSN in their schools. The main reason cited by them for absence of CWSN was denial of admission, children dropping out due to lack of adequate care and attention, and lack of adequate infrastructure. However, amongst those who reported to have CWSN in their schools mentioned that 84% of cases, teachers gave special attention to these children, which was a positive trend.
e. Community Participation and Grievance Redressal
• One of the primary institutional provisions is School Management Committees (SMCs) that is mandated to be formed in all schools under the RTE Act. No official notifications for formation of SMC have reached schools.
• Most of the school authorities mentioned that they are yet to receive any orders from the higher authorities about formation of SMCs.
• Large percentages of parents and community members have never complained or register a grievance. The reasons cited are varied. They mentioned lack of information of the different provisions as one reason, whereas the others mentioned that they were consistently insulted by the teachers and school authorities while trying to approach them with some concerns. They also mentioned that they don’t complain as they fear that their children will be reprimanded in response.
• Only 55% of the parents have ever been called by the school, and amongst them, parents pointed that they were only called to collect their child’s scholarship and not for the purpose of discussing with them about better functioning of the school or about progress of their children in terms of studies. Parents shared that there are no platforms for raising their grievances or for seeking information about any entitlement or progress of their children.
f. EWS Admissions
• The provision for reserving 25% seats in all private schools for children from Economically Weaker Sections-EWS is one of the most talked about sections of RTE in Delhi.
• Larger public schools in Delhi have often deterred the parents from applying for the EWS, citing the future necessity of additional payments (other than the fees) to create an impression that education won’t actually be “free”. Most private schools charge fees for issuing the EWS application form, and even ask for income certificates before issuing them.
• Getting the income certificate has proved to be another hurdle for the EWS households. Most of such families find it difficult to have their applications attested by a gazette officer. In some cases, the schools have demanded income certificates even from BPL card holders.
• Most BPL families were reluctant to apply for EWS since it was anyway more expensive than sending their children to government schools, where free books, midday meals etc were an added benefit.
• Mostly people working as lower level employees in a private school are able to get admissions under the EWS quota since they are unaware of the details of the process. Rests of the seats are being filled by people having much higher incomes who manage to get fake certificates.