Blog Archives

Second Stock Taking Convention

The Odisha RTE Forum(ORF); an umbrella group of all principal education networks and development agencies, civil society organizations, teacher unions and concerned individuals has been trying to build a concerted approach to appraise, track and evaluate efforts related to RTE compliance in the state. As part of this endeavour, the first state level stock taking convention was organized in March 2012 at Bhubaneswar involving all the stake holders and the Department of School and Mass Education, State Commission for protection of Child Right(SCPCR) and such other agencies including leaders from political parties.  This year with the completion of the three year bench mark on 31st March 2013, the Forum organized the second stock taking convention on 8th and 9th April 2013 at Hotel Presidency in Bhubaneswar with more than 350 participants from across thirty districts of Odisha representing about hundred plus grassroot organization and gathered on open invitation. They not only participated actively sharing their issues, observation and experiences on the whole gamut of issues pertaining to state of actual implementation of the RCFCE Act at the grassroots but also demanded the legitimate grievances of children from the State through the Forum. The convention ended with agreement on a draft recommendation and some meaningful suggestion from participants as way forward. However the present report is an attempt to reflect all the discussion and deliberation that marked this two day convention and depicts the larger concern surrounding the implementation of the Act in Odisha in terms of the issues and challenges and the way forward.

Recommendations

Community and Children participation:

  • Community and children participation needs to be strengthened by building their capacities to demand the realisation of the right of children to education.
  • Ensure the membership of children in all SMCs across the state  irrespective of membership guidelines given.
  • Ensure the formation of second round of SMCs in a participatory and transparent way with PRIs facilitating the election process. SMCs to be recognised as functionaries of decentralised system of education along with the PRIs.
  • Revised SDPs to be developed with a bottom up approach and reflected in the district education plan with an adequate allocation of budget.
  • The Government should ensure that every school has complete details of parents and SMC members. This should be consolidated at the different levels and made available in the public domain. 

Teachers:                                             

  • Single teacher schools are to be immediately provided with adequate number of teachers as per the RTE norms.
  • Teacher rationalization should be made across the state for even distribution of teachers in the schools as per the PTR norm of the RTE Act.
  • Teacher training syllabi should be redesigned keeping in view the recommendations made in the NCF 2005 and RTE Act.
  • In-service teacher training programmes should be planned in a way that the teachers get more hours for teaching.
  • Capacity of pre service teacher training institutes should be enhanced to meet the huge gap of demand and supply for professionally trained teachers.
  • The engagement of teachers in non teaching activities and deployment of teachers on trivial grounds need to be  stopped with immediate effect so as to enable them to have more time for class room interactions.
  • Provisions for appointing more women teachers needs to be ensured for addressing of the gender specific needs of girl child and similarly tribal teachers from different tribal groups need to be engaged for facilitating learning at the early stage of schooling where language plays a major part in learning.

Inclusion:

  • There should be an immediate amendment of the State Rules, to incorporate special provisions of the inclusion of children of excluded and marginalized groups like children with disability,Adivasi, Dalit, Minority and Migrant children.
  • Special policy to be developed addressing the diverse needs of children residing in the reserve forest areas, street children, children of parents who are conflict with law, children in civil strife/conflict areas, children with special needs and children affected and infected with HIV/AIDS.
  • School infrastructure and other facilities need to created and made functional to meet the needs of children with special needs.
  • Zero tolerance approach to any form of exclusion and discrimination in the schools. Community awareness on the issues of inclusion and the grievance redress mechanism  to be readily available in case of violations.
  • Teachers and government functionaries to be trained on dealing with cases of exclusion with a historical and sociological perspective.

Governance:

  • Panchayat Raj Institutions across the State should be designated as Local Authority as stipulated in the RCFCE Act.
  • With the wide range of diversities existing in all spheres in Odisha, context-sensitive designing of syllabus and text books needs to be ensured. Further, this should be accompanied by decentralization of syllabus and educational administration to ensure easy school access for each and every category of children.
    • It is imperative that the State Advisory Council, as stipulated in the Act and the Rules, be constituted with immediate effect. As per the proposed State Advisory Council, District and Block level Advisory Councils also need to be constituted. NGOs, members from SC and ST communities, and parents of differently-abled children should be mandatory members of the advisory councils.
    • State Academic Authority should be supported by an advisory group comprising of persons of eminence from the field of pedagogy and educational management.

Grievance redress system:

  • The SCPCR should take suo moto cognizance of cases of violation of child rights. The cases pending with SCPCR should be immediately resolved and adequate follow up action should be taken up.
  • A clear system of grievance redress should be evolved at the State level (SCPCR) with the same percolating down to the panchayat and SMC level.
  • The mechanisms for redress of teachers’ grievances need to be made more accessible and efficient as per the RTE Act.
  • A special designated cell on RTE be opened at SCPCR to dispose cases related to RTE  Act violation in a timely manner.

Other critical emerging issues:

  • The Government must ensure teaching in mother tongue at primary level, as per the mandate of the RTE Act and should make necessary provisions including teachers appointment etc in this regard.
  • The State should formulate clearly the definition of out of school children. It should re-evaluate and come out with the exact numbers of out of school children with convergence of numbers between different departments of the State.
  • Special efforts to be made to mainstream invisible children like children working in brick kiln, stone crusher sites, construction sites etc.
  • The Government should appoint special instructors for pre-schools and ensure preschool education is integrated into elementary education.
  • The Government should publish the list of private schools being governed by the RCFCE Act and the information of the children given admission under 25% Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) reservation to be available in the public domain.
  • The Government should ensure regulation of private schools as there is a moral and social responsibility of these schools towards the education of children from marginalized communities. Also, mechanisms for monitoring the private schools regarding the fulfillment of the provisions of the RCFCE Act should be done.

First Stock Taking Convention 2012

 
A two day State level RTE stocktaking was organized by Odisha RTE Forum at Hotel Presidency, Bhubaneswar on 26th & 27th April 2012, attended by hundreds of RTE Activists, academicians, legislators, educationist, community members, teachers, children and officials and minister from education department. Their participation and iteration regarding grass root experiences symbolized the strength and limitations of the Act incongruent of the prevalently spelt the ‘RCFCE-2009’ for every child of our country.
Following the inaugural session there was a testimonial session, where a variety of  grievance and violation of RTE act related cases like Collection of fees  and capitation fees , corporal punishment, denial of admission on different ground, age-appropriate admission and special training, teaching in mother tongue, discrimination in school, problem with migrant children and tribals, provisions of ramps, drinking water, equipments, scholarships, teaching learning materials etc. were presented by children, SMC members, RTE activist and NGO representatives. The session not only reflected the sorry state of affair in the state beyond all the claim by the government in this regard, but also highlighted major noncompliance like 25% in private school, collection of fees in schools, violation of SMC guidelines etc.
DSC_0709
There were four parallel panel discussion in the post lunch session on some of the major yardsticks of the RTE act like Access, Community participation, Quality and Protection. Many sub themes were clubbed with all these main themes to make it practically feasible to discuss and generate certain broad recommendation. Accordingly a list major recommendation was prepared from panel discussion in terms of required amendments in the state rule and creating mechanism, structures and policy changes to implement the act in the grassroots level.
The next important session was in fact main session of the convention as the Minister of Deptt. of School and Mass Education answered to question raised by the participants on issues relating to the overall status of  elementary education in the state and level of RTE compliance during the last one and half year, after the notification of the state model rule. More than 300 participants remained witness to the debate and discourse amidst the presence of the likes of Dr. Vinod Raina, shri Ambrish Rai, and Shri Anil Pradhan. Ms. Shirin Naseem chaired this important session.
The pre-lunch and the last session of the meeting was the way forward one, where the major networks working in education and child right issues sat together to discuss the plan and strategies that would be critical in shaping the momentum for the effective implementation of RTE in the state.
The programme ended with a vote of thanks by Mr. Diganta Mohanty acknowledging overall success of the programme and united solidarity shown from everybody including all the agencies, networks, NGOs and all other stakeholders.
DSC_0716
MAJOR RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE STOCK TAKING:
1.   State Rules on RTE need to be amended. Most out-of-school children in Odisha are from tribal communities. Conscious efforts need to be made to bring them into the classroom. This has to be accompanied by ensuring the appointment of teachers from local areas along with a decentralized curriculum
2.    Identification of out-of-school children in the state should be completed with immediate effect. In rural and tribal areas in particular, the process should actively involve NGOs and community organizations like Self-Help Groups, youth clubs, Mahila  Mandals, etc.
3.   State Rules should clearly articulate strategies to bring back migrant children to school. For this, the Government of Odisha may refer to the Andhra Pradesh State Rules that clearly address this issue. Inter-state collaboration needs to be formalised and accelerated to ensure this
4.   Publishing a list of private schools that are obliged to provide free education to 25% students from economically weaker sections as a result of assistance received by them from the state government
5.   Pre-school education is primarily a state responsibility. The Government of Odisha needs to come up with a clear policy on early childhood education in the form of special clauses in the State Rules
6.   The State Rules should clearly articulate the specific measures need to be taken for children with disability and special needs. All classrooms need to be made accessible with an adequate number of ramps. Accessible study materials, alternative and augmentative communication mechanisms need to be designed to help such children gain access to school education
7.   Many government schools have been reporting vacancies among Urdu teachers. These need to be filled without further delay to facilitate Urdu learning among Muslim children
8.   Though the State Rules promise scope and space for child participation in SMCs, this is yet to be put in practice. Necessary steps must be taken to ensure that at least one boy and one girl become members of each SMC
9.   Parents of disabled children need to be included in the School Management Committees (SMCs) so that their needs are addressed properly and the voices of children with disability are heard
10.  As stipulated in the Act and the Rules, the State Advisory Council needs to be constituted with immediate effect with proper representation from civil society. District and Block level Advisory Councils should also be constituted with membership from NGOs, SC and ST communities, and parents of disabled children
11. The State should make proactive efforts to involve NGOs, not just in the ‘Siksha ka Haq Abhijan’ movement but also in the implementation of the RTE Act at all levels. In tribal and rural areas in particular, NGOs should be proactively involved in capacity building of SMCs. Wherever necessary, the composition of SMCs should be reviewed to address violations in their formation
 12. The State should come up with specific plans and timelines with respect to the special training measures that need to be arranged to ensure that out-of-school children successfully enroll in age-appropriate classes
13. School Development Plans (SDPs) should be drawn up by SMCs and in consultation with children to ensure that their concerns and needs are properly addressed
14. In a state like Odisha where children have different realities and vulnerabilities, context-sensitive designing of the syllabus and text books needs to be ensured. This needs to be accompanied by adequate decentralization of the syllabus and educational administration
15. Teacher training syllabi should be redesigned keeping in mind the recommendations made in the NCF 2005 and RTE Act
16. The Government of Odisha should form sub-committees on different issues affecting education such as sub-committees on Tribals, Minorities, Migrants disabled children etc
17. The State Rules should categorically designate the Gram Panchayat as the local authority and clearly define their roles and responsibilities in the context of children’s right to schooling
18. As promised in the Act, teachers should be spared from additional responsibilities like overseeing the MDM scheme and construction of school buildings. They should focus only on teaching and classroom transactions
19. There is an urgent need to collect authentic data on the real status of primary education in the state (adequacy of schools, enrolment and drop-out rates, the number of children migrating and engaging in child labour etc.) through participatory surveys.