01 Apr 2014 - 31 Mar 2015
01 Apr 2014 - 31 Mar 2015
Education is the basic essential service which makes future of our children and society which has been mandated by government in the form of “The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act. The act came into effect in April 2010 making eight years of free education a fundamental right for every child in India. Even though it has been almost four years since the RTE Act was enacted, there is little momentum on its implementation in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
A new evaluation system, continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) is being rolled out in entire districts of UP but there is a lack of understanding on technical aspects of it. In the second phase new school management committee (SMCs) have been elected in democratic and transparent manner in various districts with active engagement of civil society organizations and education department. Further capacity building of SMCs on RTE and formation of school development plan (SDP) is the main challenge ahead. Lack of “State Commission for Protection of Child Rights’ (SCPCR) which is monitoring body for implementation of RTE in the state and lack of larger number of teachers and their training is also major area to be addressed through advocacy in this year
Ram Bahadur Maurya is a curious parent and member of school management committee (SMC) in the primary school Ramganj. He is a small farmer who use to sell vegetable in a small shop in his village and actively engaged in improving quality of education, not only in the school where he is a member of SMC, but in the entire district.
After becoming part of the SMC in his village school, he is involved in regular monitoring of school and supporting teachers in counseling out of school children and motivating their parents to send their children in school. With this initiative, he organizes regular monthly meeting of SMCs and facilitates discussion about issues of their neighbourhood school. In the monthly meeting school management committee members discusses about progress made during the month, child friendly environment of the school, corporal punishment, usage of toilet and learning level of children. He feels proud in describing his success in assessing learning level of children and proclaiming his right to monitor school and teacher to ensure the learning of children. He explains “One day, I discussed with the head teacher for allowing him to assess learning level of school children in his presence. I gave simple mathematic problems to children to solve them in front of class teacher. I found, only few children were able to do simple arithmetic calculations for which they had to attend private tuitions. I shared the situation with head teacher. But class teacher got angry and said that this was not his duty to guide teacher to teach properly and assess learning level of children. I took this matter to block education officer and got the issue rectified. Now class teacher teaches all children properly in the class room.”
Parents like Ram Bahadur raises issue related to school management, during monthly meeting of SMC and try to get possible solutions. Further, they discuss tricky matters during their block and district level education meeting where they share village level issues with education officials also to act on that. While visiting school, one day Ram Bahadur observed that the poor children were not able to eat mid day meal being served in the school as they were not having their own plates. He discussed about the matter in SMC meeting where committee took the decision for buying plates for school from the school grant. He went to nearby market with head teacher and purchased 60 plates for school.
He is very happy to get enrolled all children in the school in this academic session when head teacher denied for their admission on ground that children were residing far away from school. He says “I spoke to head teacher and said that no children could be denied from admission as per Right to Education Act. By hearing this teacher strong response, the teacher agreed to take admission. Now all children are studying in this school.” Along with teachers’ and other parents he organized rally to track out of school children and supported teachers in enrolling them. Recently parents’ group has raised awareness about the process of SMC election during second phase of SMC election in the state. In all 30 villages election process happened in democratic and transparent manner. He says “I want to make aware all parents about RTE Act to improve quality of education in our state. If parents, teacher and education department will work together, children will learn better”.
Like Ram Bahadur other parents are also doing regular monitoring of school for effective implementation of the act and ensuring quality education. In this year during second phase of SMC formation after enactment of RTE Act, SMCs have been formed in transparent and democratic manner in 90 schools of direct intervention and in other schools of 50 districts through parents group. By engaging with state education department, Lokmitra, a partner with Oxfam India has been successful in developing training module for school management committee and teachers. The story of Ram bahadur has been an inspiration to all parents and a light of ray for those believing in community action for a better tomorrow.