One of my students did a story about India’s Right to Eduction Act (RTE) and she recorded, on camera, this quote from a parent at a private school: “I don’t want poor children to sit with my kids and be spoilt in their company.”
I asked several Hindi speakers if the translation was correct, and they confirmed, sadly, that it was.
The Indian Constitution guarantees children the right to an education. RTE was passed by Parliament not long after we arrived in Delhi in the summer of 2009, and the Supreme Court has just ruled that the law is valid and constitutional.
Specifically, RTE mandates that all private schools set aside 25-percent of their seats for the poor.
Many private schools say that they can’t afford to forgo a quarter of their tuition and at the same time, maintain standards and meet operational costs. They argue that the government isn’t doing its job educating the poor, as it should.
The government reimburses private schools a fee per child, but for many institutions, this money doesn’t replace lost funding.
Private school educators say poor children face greater challenges and that educating them isn’t as easy as slipping them into an enriched classroom. There are oodles of other arguments: It’s difficult integrating class and caste; Poor children are not prepared to compete because their skill base is limited; They don’t have the necessary support at home to compete in a rigorous school environment; Many fall asleep in class where it’s cool and calm because they live in tight and chaotic quarters and they don’t get to bed until late.
The government says, get over it and just start teaching.
Until now, many private schools worked around RTE by offering segregated classes in the afternoon after paying students left.
Or they didn’t meet the mandate at all.
The best scenario is that the Government of India improves its own schools and educates, with equal resources, all of its children.
Last year, in a big publicity show, Delhi gave public school children refillable water bottles so that the kids could bring water from home to drink in school. Why? Because many schools do not have clean drinking water. Instead of spending money on providing reliable sources of clean water, the city spent it on plastic instead.
Look who’s thirteen! Olivia Rose…
Here’s a sweet shot of our resident avian mommy:
My students graduate next week:
The ultimate in Jugaad (a temporary solution) – a homemade teleprompter built by my brilliant colleague:
Lala’s special friend: