8 million children still out of school in RTE Act’s first year


New Delhi : The Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act which promises free and compulsory education to all children between the age six to 14, Friday completed a year since its implementation. However, the fact that more than eight million children are still out of school shows that a lot more needs to be done.

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Releasing the RTE report card in the capital Friday, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said: “It’s unfortunate that 81,50,619 children in the age group of six to 14 are still out of school. We have to bring all those children to school.”

The report which analysed the overall primary education scenario of the country, said that the total enrolment in the primary level in 2009-10 was 13,34,05,581 while in the upper primary level it was 5,44,67,415.

The percentage of girls enroled in the primary level was 48.46 percent while in the upper primary level it was 48.12 percent.

The total number of elementary schools, government and aided, in 2009-10 was 11,20,968. And the total number of teachers was 44,77,429.

“21 percent teachers were found to be without professional qualification and nine percent schools were with a single teacher,” Sibal said, citing the report.

“It was found that 508,000 additional teachers are required and in 2010 we approved the recruitment of 455,000 teachers,” he added.

According to Sibal, the real problem now is no longer access to education but its quality.

“Access to education is no longer the real problem now, it’s quality of education and for that we have set parameters under the RTE Act like infrastructure in schools, pupil-teacher ratio and professionally qualified teachers,” he said.

The student classroom ratio across the country was found to 32:1. As many as 93 percent schools were found to have drinking water facility, 59 percent with girls toilet and 47 percent with ramps for the benefit of physically disadvantaged children.

Some of the not so encouraging figures came as far as the notification of rules in the states was concerned – 15 states had notified the rules and only 11 had constituted state commissions for protection of child rights, meant to monitor implementation of the Act.

“However the level of commitment in the states is good. This is just the first year, things will be even better next year,” Sibal said.

Sounding excited about the latest census data, Sibal went on to say that India will be completely literate by the year 2020.

“The Millenium Development Goal says that India should achieve literacy rate of 72 percent by 2015 but we have already gone ahead of that figure. The census data says that our literacy rate is 74.4 percent,” he said.

“What is even more encouraging is that the female literacy rate has gone up by 12 percent,” he added.