Right to Education is a rather noble cause, but is it getting implemented right or are schools able to follow closely? It does not seem like at least in rural India. The basic framework, be it in terms of student to teacher ratio or even the basic infrastructure, is fundamentally weak.
Pupil to teacher ratio
|School Enrollment||RTE Std.||Number of Teachers on ground|
Per RTE, a school shall have an all weather building with the following facilities:
- At least one classroom for every teacher
- Office cum store cum head teacher’s room
- Separate toilets for boys and girls
- Safe and adequate drinking water facility to all children
- A kitchen where midday meal is cooked in the school
- Arrangements for securing the school building by boundary wall or fencing.
- Teaching learning equipment: shall be provided to each class as required.
- Library: There shall be a library in each school providing newspapers, magazines and books on all
|% of Schools with|
|Building||Office/Store/Office cum store||74.5|
|Drinking Water||No facility for drinking water||17.4|
|Facility but no drinking water available||10.5|
|Drinking water available||72.2|
|Toilet||No toilet facility||10.1|
|Facility but toilet not useable||38.8|
|Girls' Toilet||% Schools with no separate provision for girls toilets||29.3|
|Of schools with separate girls toilets, % schools where|
|Toilet not useable||14|
|Teaching Learning Material||Teaching learning material in Std 2||80.4|
|Teaching learning material in Std 4||75.9|
|Library but no books being used by children on day of visit||24.4|
|Library books being used by children on day of visit||38.7|
|Mid-day Meal||Kitchen shed for cooking midday meal||81.3|
|Midday meal served in school on day of visit||83.4|
It does clearly seem that there are miles to go before the current framework manages to catch up with what RTE prescribes or aims for. In an earlier post, we had mentioned the government's desire to get public sector units to fund many of these initiatives. The money could certainly come in handy to improve basic infrastructure, but teachers have to find it monetarily lucrative enough to remain in rural areas as well.
For the last few years, besides all other types of work, even education has started to get outsourced in many ways. One kept hearing of incidents where college students from western countries got their term papers, project reports etc researched and written by Indian students or professionals for a fee. A Bangalore based company also started providing tuition in various subjects to children outside the country using the web as the communication medium. Teachers from India get on the web and teach children, and it seems quite successfully.
Now, the latest is that Ashmount Primary (a school in North London) has outsourced mathematics teaching to India. Though the news surprises you a bit, its not very untoward if you think about it. The reason for outsourcing (regardless of industry) is lack of relevant skills in the geography and thus the related cost. That is what made it work for R&D, and IT. And similarly lack of teachers in the schooling system is making it work for Ashmount Primary.
BBC reported that the students found this way of teaching to be fun. Bright Spart Education Company (BSEC) which is facilitating the classes, uses about 100 teachers from Ludhiana. Lessons get booked over a day in advance at at the rate of £12 an hour, for blocks of two to five hours. The only drawback, if you will, in the system is that the teacher and the student do not get to see each other. But, that is only a surmountable (over time) technology issue.
Please indulge my thought instigator for a moment - one of the largest problems in the education system in India is the lack of teachers. Outsourcing of education (though good for individuals) will take teachers away to teach the kids in western countries. So, the impact is...