First State Level School Management Committee Convention
For the first time State Level School Management Committee (SMC) convention has been organised by State Collective for Right to Education (SCORE) in Lucknow. In the convention more than 1600 SMC members from 72 districts of Uttar Pradesh have gathered at Ravindralaya, Lucknow to put their voice for claiming right to education for their children. SCoRE is a coalition of civil society organisations, education networks, teachers’ association, community members, media, activists, academics and individuals advocating for effective implementation of Right to Education Act in Uttar Pradesh. Oxfam India is one of the major partner and having conventorship of SCoRE.
Addressing participant at the onset of the event Ms. Veena Gupta, (State RTE advisor, NCPCR) congratulated SMC members to be here in her welcome speech. In her address she emphasized the strength of decentralization; she mentioned with the formation of SMCs which have a legal validity we have move a step forward in terms of delegation of power and resources from the upper level to lowest level. She suggested to SMCs member to keep a copy of the law and keep an eye on government decisions. She also expressed that the concerns should be quality education and we ensure that the discussion should be children centric not only teachers centric. Teacher’s performance is only the part of the larger issue and she suggested achieving the goal of quality education we have to work with teachers not against the teacher. Mr. Farrukh, convener, SCoRE has welcomed all participant of to put their views on community empowerment, decentralization so that right to education act can be realised at ground.
The then, Oxfam India Director for Programme and Advocacy, Ms. Moutushi Sengupta said education should be prime agenda of development. Community empowerment, its participation in planning of School Development Plan (SDP) formation and quality monitoring should be promoted by all stakeholders of education. She also emphasized upon 50% stake of female members in SMC body participation of whom should be ensured especially. Integration of teacher and community effort can lead to better education system with decentralized planning and management.
Special advisor from NCPCR said right to education (RTE) Act has right to all children to have free and compulsory education. Mr. Ambrish Rai, Convenor, National RTE Forum said under RTE Act decentralization process has been kept in heart to give school management system in the hand of community member and government should encourage this. If community can manage government and panchayat, it can better manage school functioning. Now-a-days government schools are getting defunct and on the other side private schools are mushrooming here and there. Only community participation, engagement and monitoring can stop this and improve quality of government schools. Ms. Malini Ghose, State RTE Advisor, NCPCR suggested a road map of community empowerment, clarification and strengthening grievance redressal process, formation of State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR), demand generation and capacity building of community members for ground level actual realisation of the Act. Ms. Sehba Hussain, State RTE Advisor, NCPCR also emphasized the importance of training and capacity building and fair formation of new SMC members in next academic year.
To facilitate smooth flow of information among its stakeholders SCoRE has developed a collective website which has been launched by our Chief Guest Sri. Suresh Kumar Tripathy. After inaugurating SCoRE website Sri Suresh has congratulated collective effort for implementation of RTE Act in Uttar Pradesh and giving SMC members such space to share their voice. Ms. Sehjo Singh, Director- Policy a& Programmes, ActionAid India, Ms. Annie Namala, Ex. Member, National Advisory Council, RTE, Ms. Janaki Rajan, Director, Women Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, Mr. Ramakant Rai, Convenor- National Coalition for Education, Mr. Lallan Mishra, President, Primary teachers’ union, Ms. Sehba Hussain, State RTE Advisor, NCPCR, Ms. Veena Gupta, State R TE Advisor, NCPCR, Ms. Malini Ghose, State RTE Advisor, NCPCR, Mr. Mazhar A. Rashidi, Convenor, Aman Network and Ms. Tahira Hussain, AIPWA were present in the convention to support and encourage SMC members in their effort.
Due to an Urgent meeting educationist Mr. Vinod Raina could not attend the convention but through a note given a message to participant. He said “The Right to Education Act seeks a tripartite partnership between the government, panchayat (local authority) and the community through the SMCs. As you are aware 75% of people in the SMCs must be parents of children in a school. This is because who else would be more concerned about the proper functioning of a school than the parent who send their precious children there. The challenge is to make this tripartite partnership functional. That would require proper awareness, information and a spirit of cooperation between these three agencies. I am sure that this convention will provide all the three elements, awareness and information about the Act, and a spirit of cooperation. It is our duty to work for the rights of our children so that their and the future of our country is bright. Wish the very best to this convention.”
SMC members from different districts of Uttar Pradesh have shared their problems, struggles and commitment for RTE Act implementation. Through testimonies from different areas of Uttar Pradesh including bundelkhand, western, eastern, central, Sahariya PTG area, ST area and western ST community has shared their school situation and current position of SMCs. Mr. Rambahadur Maurya, SMC members of P.S Ramganj in Raebareli said “I am member of primary school Kahua of Raebareli district. Who says that community members are unaware and cannot manage school? We are conducting continuous meeting of our SMC in our own school where we assess learning level of children on continuous basis. We give children problem, mathematics; books to read and as sess learning level with teacher thus inform teachers to give more time to children required. We have allotted panchayat land for our school with our meeting, renovated school building, repaired hand pump. Volunteers of Lokmitra (partner of Oxfam India) and Oxfam India is supporting us to improve quality of our school and making it more functional. At the end of the convention demand points have been shared with all SMC members. All SMC members and SCoRE representatives have given their consent by raising hands to support these signed demand which will sent to Chief Minister Sri. Akhilesh Yadav. This demand paper mainly includes demand of fair formation of SMCs in next academic year, capacity building of SMC members, formation of State commission for protection of child rights (SCPCR) in the state, making teachers free from all kind of non teaching activities, facilitating education consultation committee at block level by including SMC members and speed up education initiatives to ensure effective implementation of RTE Act.
Voices of School Management Committee’s
Barua, President of SMC (Hariya Block): SMCs has been created without informing us and we done know our role under right to education, what are our power and what we have to do. Our school has 270 children being taught by only 2 teachers. Hand pump and toilets are also not functional. Still we are not discouraged, but will need some fresh strength and energy. We are being told that we are not graduates, what do we know? But we will show how to manage our school.
Lachi, SMC Member/ Kapasigram, SMC member (Lalitpur District): “Out teachers comes from Bhopal by 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM daily. Teachers teach very less, they dismiss our children like stray dogs. This is not just the case of my village but there are 20 surrounding villages where teachers comes from Bhopal and Habibgnaj (in Bhopal) which is 150 km away and school is also 5-15 km away from railway station which again takes 10-40 minutes to reach and the teacher commutes daily. Teachers barely spend 2 hours in school with children. How children will learn anything? In Mata Khedi, Dhojri and all villages in Pattari area situation is similar. We are Sahariya people, we have no lands, we live in Lalitpur, we are labourers, out children will also becoem onyl labourers-there is no hope.”
Sampath and Balram, SMC representative (Hamirpur district): There was no road to reach school and the road gets blocked by water and mud. We made a road for our children to reach school. There are 80 student and only one teacher. Pradhan does not comes in our meetings and we are not being invited in SMC meetings but they made some false signature in our name. Hum mazdoor hain, hamare bachhe bhi mazdor hi rah jayange (we are agricultural laborers and our children will also remain labor)
Sharda Devi, SMC member (Raibareilli district): “Why, in our village, we have 1 teacher for 85 children, but I know a school where there are 20 children and 8 teachers!”
Rambahadur, SMC member (Rae Bareili): “ In our school we haThis is not an easy process. But we know what we want. Nirdan ho ya Dhanwan, Shiksha hogi EK samaan (Be rich or poor, education will be equal for all). We will fight for the right of our children.”
Javithri, SMC member (Bareilli district): “I fought a lot for making my school functional. Teacher was not coming till 12:30 in our school situated by the road of my village, Kayanpuri. I asked teacher about her delay but he replied badly and said this is my job you do not interfere in this. Who are you to ask me? Our children roam around daily by the time she arrives, and they can be in danger with the traffic when nobody is taking care of them. One day I put a chair infront of school and kept sitting till he arrives. When he came I took a lock and locked the school and said I will not let you to open school and complain to senior officer. I am SMC! The teacher apologized and promised to come on time. I request my all SMC member sister and brothers to be brave and fight for right of our children. We may slip empty stomach but will fight for our children.
Krishnawati Maddeshia, SMC member (Ramnagar, Basti): I was unaware about my membership in SMC committee which has been given by teacher of school. Later on she came to know about this and teacher gave the reason of having pressure by upper officer to give name in hurry. Meeting of SMC is not being conducted in our school. Teacher remain involve in non teaching activities.
Ramchandra, SMC members, Kathuara village (Raibareili district) passed his message in form of song which he prepared for SMCs. “Vidyalaya prabandhan samiti ki oor se sab ka man samman ho… Jati pati ka bhed na ho.. shiksha ek saman ho ….” (SMCs will respect every persons. Without segregating in the name of Caste and class, education should be equal for all) says Ramchnadra.
Written by: Oxfam India staff
Photo credit: Oxfam India
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