Day before yesterday marked the three years deadline prescribed to meet most of the aims and objectives of the Right to Education Act passed by the Government of India. Any authentic study would reveal that the aims and objectives are not yet realised for many reasons.
It is interesting to know how international NGOs such as UNICEF view the issue because I have always thought that they are relatively more objective in their approach. But it seems to me that these are also sometimes driven by inadequate monitoring and feedback mechanisms. For example in a newspaper article, the UNICEF representative in India says, "most schools have adequate number of classrooms and great strides have been made in providing drinking water and separate toilet facilities for boys and girls ..". If we go by the conventional meaning of the term `most', I think that the observation is grossly exaggerated.
In his observation on teachers, the writer seems to find a relationship between teacher preparation/on-site support and the outcome of results in the Central Teacher Eligibility Test. Any experienced K-12 education administrator would find that the issues involved in teacher preparation and in-service training are different from bits and pieces of theoretical knowledge and largely unrealistic professional skills which are tested in our TETs.
Of course the writer has brought in valuable case studies and suggestions (for instance when discussing school management committees) which can be used to advantage by field workers and professionals at all levels. I had the pleasure of observing welcome changes in this aspect in accordance with `Child Friendly Schools' policy of the Government of Cambodia. We can apply the concepts in India too. But it requires an unbiased joint effort from schools and communities.
Though case studies and observations outlined in the article do make sense to some extent, the writer seems to be short sighted in his concluding remark. Contrary to what he believes, eight years of good quality education alone cannot pave the way for our country's future. Quality aspects need to be considered beyond 14 years and below 6 years, both of which have been neglected in the RTE Act.