Let the country celebrate. Education is a fundamental right of every child from today. Education will be free and compulsory too. The Prime Minister will address the nation on this day. I wish all the chief ministers would have also addressed the people of their state in their languages and appealed them to participate to make it effective.
It will be binding on the part of local and State Governments to ensure that all children in the six to 14 years age group get schooling. Almost 22 crore children fall under this age group. According to India’s Education for All Mid-Decade Assessment, in just five years between 2000 and 2005, the country increased primary school enrollment by 13.7 per cent overall and by 19.8 per cent for girls, reaching close to universal enrollment in Grade 1. However, still one in four children in 2005 left school before reaching Grade 5 and almost half before reaching Grade 8. The litmus test will be to bring the drop out to zero level.
Private educational institutions will have to reserve 25 per cent seats for children from weaker sections.
Expectations are high. It expects to improve the quality of education. It expects teachers to improve.
It is now mandatory for every single school to acquire a certificate of recognition after complying with norms and standards specified in the act. A school will function for five-six hours a day, and will have at least one teacher for every 30 children. (I strongly opine that for a good education, the number of teachers must be at least double) The children have access to textbooks and learning material, and will also get a mid-day meal.
I dream a positive transformation in the schools of the villages like Pipra, Madhukarpur, and Bodarhi and lakhs others in different villages of India. I do also hope that the education in the government schools at Noida’s integrated villages such as Agahpur, Morna, Nithari and Hosiarpur will gradually improve and will be similar to that of its many private schools.
But as expected, unless the parents appreciate the role of education and demand it from the teachers and the government, the act will not mean much. Further, many things must get added to the activities of these schools with limited means to make the act successful. The people, agencies, and local bodies must participate by getting the school premises protected, by getting a library and creativity centre built in the premises, and arranging a regular health checks through volunteer doctors. Let there be more and more competitions organized between the schools of a locality. Will the rich private schools allow the students of the government schools to participate in the sports and other extracurricular activities?
It requires a change of mindset. Unfortunately, there still remain many barriers to be crossed. Let the Kasis and Devis (of NDTV-Imagine) be not stopped from getting education and all those doing it must be behind bars.
Can we expect a 100 % educated nation soon or in a generation?