“Education Challenges: One Teacher, Seven Schools in India’s Primary Education Landscape”
There is no justification for this flagrant breach of the Right to Education Act, which is committed by millions of Indian children who continue to attend single-teacher institutions.
Right to Education Act
Article 21-A, which states that all children between the ages of six and fourteen have the fundamental right to free and compulsory education, was added to the Indian Constitution by the Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act of 2002.
The RTE Act provides for the:
- Children have the right to a local school where their education is free and required until they complete elementary school.
- It makes it clear that “compulsory education” refers to the obligation of the relevant government to guarantee free elementary education and ensure that every child in the six to fourteen age range enrols, attends, and completes basic school. Free means that no child will be required to pay any fees, expenses, or other costs that would prohibit them from pursuing and completing their basic education.
- It includes provisions for the admission of an unadmitted youngster to a class that is suitable for their age.
- The distribution of financial and other responsibilities between the Central and State Governments, as well as the roles and responsibilities of the relevant Governments, local authorities, and parents in delivering free and compulsory education, are all outlined in this document.
- It outlines the rules and requirements for, among other things, Pupil Teacher Ratios (PTRs), facilities and infrastructure, school calendars, and teacher work schedules.
- To ensure that there is no imbalance between urban and rural teacher posts, it ensures that the stated pupil-teacher ratio is maintained for each school, as opposed to just as an average for the State, District, or Block. Additionally, it forbids the use of teachers for non-educational tasks besides those related to the biennial census, local government, state legislature, parliamentary elections, and disaster assistance.
- Following the values embodied in the Constitution, it calls for the creation of curricula that would ensure a child’s overall development, build on that child’s knowledge, potential, and talent, and liberate that child from fear, trauma, and anxiety through a system of kid-friendly and kid-centred learning.
Points to Ponder:
- Single-teacher schools: Schools with a single teacher are those where the teacher is in charge of several classrooms and grade levels. The sentence emphasises how common single-teacher schools are in Jharkhand and other Indian states.
- Inadequate staffing: A considerable number of schools in India, notably in Jharkhand, still only have one teacher on duty, despite the Right to Education Act’s requirement that there be at least two teachers in every school. This makes it difficult to give each pupil individualised attention and high-quality education.
- Pupil-teacher ratio: With an average of 51 kids per school in Jharkhand, single-teacher schools frequently have a high student-teacher ratio. The teacher finds it challenging to adequately manage and instruct each pupil given the high student-teacher ratio.
- Disadvantaged communities: youngsters from marginalised communities, such as Dalit and Adivasi youngsters, are mostly served by single-teacher schools. These communities frequently experience socioeconomic difficulties, which makes it even more difficult for them to get high-quality education due to inadequate personnel in local schools.
- Challenges when the instructor is not present: According to the passage, when a single teacher is occupied with administrative or non-teaching tasks, the students are left wandering. The school runs aimlessly without the teacher, which has a bad effect on how well the pupils learn.
- Motives for single-teacher institutions: Low population density, dispersed settlements, and low fertility rates are among the factors that contribute to single-teacher schools in several states. This is especially important in states like Himachal Pradesh, where there are typically less than 20 students enrolled in each school.
- Mini-school viability: Mini-schools were created to offer instruction in sparsely inhabited places. However, the Right to Education Act’s implementation resulted in new rules that made it more difficult to maintain mini-schools. To solve this problem, some states tried to combine smaller schools with bigger ones.
- Role of the state government: state governments can find it expedient to make financial savings by underfunding schools in disadvantaged areas. The issue is exacerbated by teacher resistance to remote postings and the lack of teacher vacancies in Jharkhand since 2016.
- Unmet demand for high-quality education: Protests against single-teacher schools in Jharkhand recently and protracted school closures during the COVID-19 issue draw attention to a sizable unmet need for high-quality education in rural areas. According to the text, a new movement is required to address these problems and guarantee that all pupils have access to high-quality education.
- Call for the right to education movement’s second wave: The text ends by advocating the necessity for a revitalised campaign in India for the right to education. It raises the possibility that the Right to Education Act’s initial momentum for the movement may have diminished, and it emphasises the significance of addressing the difficulties single-teacher schools face and making sure that all students receive a high-quality education, especially in rural areas.