On 2nd April, 2010, Union government of India will enforce new law called Right to Education act which will make primary education as fundamental right for all children aged between 6-14 years. While most of India is celebrating this law as step to elevate illiteracy from the country but the blink of caution is very much evident. In the country where 35% population cannot read or write and only 7% graduates, education still attracts huge amount of public and private investments.
While the macro statistics give very poor report card, still Indian doctors, engineers and managers are hailed all over the world. So, is this another fight between “haves” and “have nots” ?? Yes and No.
Every year, HRD Ministery in India invests around 5-6 Billion US Dollars in education sector. New IITs and IIMs are sanctioned every year. Municipal schools, Grameen schools are opened in thousands of number but still the quality of education is below par. While the growing middle class and upper sector are lining in private schools and colleges for their degrees, and public schools are still second choice for most Indians. So the important question is: Are we ready for right to education? Do we have enough resources to reach each and every student?
Problem with big nation like India is that the hierarchy of power is so big that normally message is lost in translation between policy makers and executors. Let’s take Mid-day meals for example. I personally thought that it was brilliant idea to serve meals in public school to attract students to school. However, the programme failed because of poor quality of food. While it could have been answer for two most important problem of the country: mal-nutrition and Illiteracy, but due to ignorance, corruption and political drama, the mission failed and is now scrapped by the government.
This act is more of challenge than an achievement for the government. Let’s hope this time, it does not tangle up in politics and more hard work and smart work is tendered towards it. Mr. Sibal said that within 5 years, he hopes that RTE will cover secondary education also. Lets hope that in this melodrama, there are happy ending too.