The Right to Education Act: Revolutionary, Redundant, or Regressive?

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150 stakeholders and 16 experts come together to discuss critical challenges facing Indian Education System at the School Choice National Conference 2010.

[I’m sharing this peice with all fo you but I myself is not happy from this conference. With a vision that, there will be a great discussion on the issue, I participated in the conference but it resulted exactly opposite. This news release from CCS doesn’t include my questions and as nobody replied to them so off course answers will not be there. After attending all three sessions of conference, finally I agve up and stand up against what was happening there. During the conclusion session I asked these questions:]

  1. Out of you 16 experts and 160 stakeholders, not even a single person talked/discussed/asked about the education in tribal regions in India. Is there anyone who can explain why?
  2. Discussion about the education in rural areas was initiated and explained by Prof Geeta Gandhi, but in her definition, she talked about Plumbers, Electricians, Carpenters, etc. These trades belogs to cities or big towns, not to the villages. What about 70% Farmers and their families in India?

[As expected, not even a single person replied to these questions.  And you can read the suitable news release below ]

New Delhi, 18 Dec 2010– Critical issues pertaining to Right to Education Act and the present state  of Indian Education and school system were discussed at the second annual School Choice National Conference organized by Centre for Civil Society at the India Habitat Centre today.

Speaking at the conference, Kiran Bhatty, National Coordinator, Right to Education, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) explained that NCPCR was actually a monitoring agency for the RTE act which is separate from the implementing agencies. She said the NCPCR recognised the challenge of grievance redressal with regards to RTE and the commission was making efforts to ensure stricter enforcement of the law with cooperation from Panchayati and state authorities.

“NCPCR is soon going to launch social audit of the RTE Act, a helpline to ensure grievance redressal and promote capacity building of school management committees”, Ms Bhatty said adding “the commission was already holding public hearings by summoning appropriate authorities in relation to effective implementation of the Act.”

Vinod Raina, Member, Central Advisory Board for Education endorsed the need for larger dialogues and discussions with civil society, government agencies and educational service providers ensure proper implementation of the RTE Act. He urged people to remember that RTE was the fundamental right of the child as opposed to any other stakeholder and that should remain the central focus.  Talking about the Act’s provision that neighbourhood schools should be built within the next three years, he said he believed that school buildings would be constructed but the real challenge lay in ensuring proper learning within these buildings.

Dr Parth J Shah, President, Centre for Civil Society spoke about the challenges of RTE Act implementation and the need for broader discussion and dialogue amongst stakeholders. He reiterated the need to find innovative solutions for school admissions, especially for the Economically Weaker Sections who have been allotted 25 percent reservation under the Act. He also formally launched three publications on Skill Vouchers, Implementation Model for RTE Act and a Policy Review on ‘RTE act and private school regulation’.

Amitav Virmani, Country Director, Absolute Return for Kids chaired the first session on ‘RTE Act: Challenges and Opportunities’. He gave an overview of the Act along with key challenges such as closure of unrecognized schools within the next three years.

Other key session of the Conference were:

  • Framework of Ideal School Eco System

Chair: Parth J Shah, President for Centre for Civil Society


–         Manish Sabharwal, CEO, TeamLease Services

–         Baela Raza Jamil, Pulic Policy Specialist and Coordinator, South Asian Forum for Education Development, Lahore, Pakistan

–         Monica Grazia Boni, director, Direttore Marketing, Incentive e Servizi Allaa Persona, Edenred Italia

  • Accountaility in Education

Chair: Urmila Sarkar, Chief, Education, UNICEF India Country Office


–         Pradeep Sharma, Country Director, Gray Matters Capital, India

–         Prof Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, Professor of Education and International Development, Institute of Education, London University

–         Yamini Aiyer, Director, Accountability Initiative

  • Re-visioning Indian Education


–         TK Mathew, Chief Executive and Secretary, Deepalaya

–         Gowri Ishwaran, Educationist and Founder Principal, Sanskriti School

–         K Satyanarayan, Director, New Horizon Media

About School Choice Campaign

The School Choice Campaign (SCC), flagship project of the Centre for Civil society advocates policy reform ideas to improve quality and access to education especially for the poor. By working with policy makers, education experts and grass root level activists, SCC is focused on:

• Expanding choice and competition through school vouchers

• Pedagogical and operational autonomy to government schools

• Converting state funding to per student basis

• Delicensing, deregulation and decentralisation

About Centre for Civil Society

Social Change through Public Policy

Established on 15 August 1997, the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) is an independent, non-profit public policy think tank devoted to improving the quality of life for all citizens of India by reviving and reinvigorating civil society. Through its award winning programs, CCS is a resource for innovative community and market based ideas for sound public policy solutions, particularly in the areas of education, livelihood, governance and environment. By bringing these ideas to current and future leaders, CCS is advancing opportunity and prosperity for all Indians.

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