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V Devanathan,TNN | Apr 19, 2014, 01.40 AM IST
MADURAI: The revolutionary Right To Education (RTE) Act has got a long way to go before it achieves the goals set forth under it. The state education department has so far achieved not even half of the 100% target enrolment of students from the under-privileged sections of the community in the last academic year (2013-14). The state has managed to achieve only 40% of the target despite strict enforcement of the Act. Educational activists say better monitoring would help in better implementation of the Act.
According to the education department data the state aimed to admit as many as 58,619 students under the 25% RTE quota set for schools. A meagre 23,248 students could be enrolled in schools across the state in the previous academic year.
The RTE Act stipulates that 25% of the total seats in any private unaided non-minority school should be set apart for poor students whose fees would be paid by the government. This provision is applicable only at the entry-level classes. Priority in admission should be provided only to students staying near the school.
What is bothering the RTE activists is the fact that around 1,000 schools out of the 3,550 schools falling under the RTE ambit have not contributed even a single seat under the quota. Only 2,600 schools have made efforts to implement the Act, but not all of them have filled the entire quota, according to RTE activists. They fear that the much-touted effort of the central government would get diluted just as hundreds of other laws in the country.
The Act would have been a much greater success if its execution is monitored. "It has become like any other general Act of the government as government is not overseeing its implementation. It has to fix a firm target and work towards achieving it," said Henry Tiphagne, former special representative of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on RTE Act implementation.
"Monitoring should be done by a separate government agency. If the same education department is assigned as monitoring agency it would not work well. There should stringent action against schools not complying with the law," said Henry, who is also the executive director of People's Watch, a human rights NGO based in Madurai.
Implementation of the Act still leaves a lot to be desired, said Jim Jesudoss, who is the chairman of the Madurai District Child Welfare Committee. "It would take time to rectify problems and implement the law smoothly. Government should come up with a clear idea on better implementation and monitoring of the system," he said.