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Is RTE (Right to Education) a black act for poor and lower middle classes

(This article is based on the RTE in Uttar Pradesh, the situations could be same in other states too. I am exploring the regulations in other states also. I will write a detailed article on RTE shortly. RTE= Right to Education)

Vivek Umrao Glendenning

Including me, we praised a lot the RTE act, and we supported it last 12 years. But now I guess we were wrong because we trusted it blindly and skipped to see the deep inside the Act and praised the act emotionally, many clauses of the RTE are very dangerous for the poor and lower middle classes.

I met first time Vinod Raina in 2000 in Kanpur in a meet of education. I found Raina does not seem aware too much of the ground realities. I spent a week with Anil Sadgopal in 2002 in Hyderabad and discussed many educational issues.

I have been an active part of an organisation voluntarily who has been working for primary education for underprivileged children in all over India. We established many thousands of centres for the poor children in very remote villages. I started and established 10 non-formal education centres for the children of migrant-workers between 1999-2001.

I taught voluntarily in several non-formal schools for Dalit & Tribal children in interior villages of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Chhattisgarh. 

I am a founding part of an open teachers training centre in Rajasthan. We invite teachers from small-scale private schools to improve their teaching skills. The trainers we get from Maharashtra, some persons in Maharashtra have done very good experiments for teaching materials and teaching skill improvements.I am writing above to let you know that I understand the crisis of education systems for poor classes in India.

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The serious drawbacks of RTE in Uttar Pradesh:After 31.03.2013, no-one could run any formal or non-formal education centre. It is illegal under RTE and penalty starts with Rs 1 Lakh, if the formal school does not follow infrastructure standards set by the governments.

Thousands of notices have been issued to the formal recognised and non-formal schools not following the infrastructure standards set by the government.Following standards of the recognised school means around 2 million Rs expenses on infrastructures not included the land price. And recurring expenses will be around 0.15 to 0.2 million Rs per month to run a small school. This means these schools will have to charge a handsome amount of fee from the students.

Now a poor or lower-middle-class student has only two option-

  1. To drop the education and only enrolled in the government schools
  2. To study in ill-managed government schools

A poor or middle-class student will not have an opportunity to study in small-scale private formal/non-formal schools, which are comparatively better in education quality than the government schools because of government standards for infrastructures and teachers’ qualifications.

In Uttar Pradesh, there are many thousands of government schools do not follow the infrastructure standards and do not have teachers. There is lack of more than 3.5 Lakh teachers only in Uttar Pradesh in government schools.

Government is not arranging the facility of quality education but stopping community to arrange a quality education by possible means, what will the children of poor and lower middle class do?

The RTE will create high discriminations between poor and rich.

Poor and lower middle classes will get the education in ill-managed government schools, and upper middle class & upper class will get the education in costly public schools.

We welcomed 25% seats in public schools for poor children, but the RTE in Uttar Pradesh demands the two basic documents from a student from a poor and lower middle classes to study in costly public schools under 25% quota-

  1. Students must produce proof that there is no government school in his/her area
    or
  2. Students must produce a letter from the principals of all government schools in the area that seats are full in their schools to the education officer

To provide above documents are as impossible for a child of poor or lower middle class.

Just for a note-

Ekal-Vidyalaya was a good effort and made lots of successful output but is illegal now because of RTE act.

Is RTE not a black act for poor and lower middle classes?

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