NEP 2020 has pushed forward the goal of universalization of school education including the children from pre-primary to secondary level, but it won’t be realized without legal obligations. There is an urgent need of strengthening of existing Right to Education (RTE) Act.
According to Prof. Muchkund Dubey, former Foreign Secretary and President, Council for Social Development (CSD) the commitment of the government towards children’s rights must be enforceable by law and it must be implemented within a fixed time period. He was chairing a webinar organized by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum with Members of Parliament to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic induced challenges to continuing school education of millions of children in the country On Aug 12. Dr. Mohammad Jawed, Pradeep Tamta, and Vishambhar Prasad Nishad along with former MP Ravi Prakash Verma, prominent education specialists, activists and representatives of other forums and Civil Society Organisations were present in the virtual meeting.
“All developing countries have given priority to sending children to school to avoid tremendous loss to the nation. We must make a decision to send children back to school with adequate protection to them as well as the teachers,” said Dubey.
Dr. Mohammad Jawed spoke about the challenges his own constituency faces in the field of education because of lack of facilities. Dr. Jawaed informed that he has raised multiple questions on the Compliance of the RTE Act Guidelines, out of school girls and gender inclusive fund as well as timelines related to the NEP 2020, during the Monsoon Session of the parliament. He expressed his disappointment that all his queries were answered vaguely by the Ministry of Education.
Pradeep Tamta spoke about the PPP model that the current government is endorsing. He said that the step will completely take away the right to education from marginalized children. Education is the nation’s duty towards its children and it cannot be a private responsibility, he said.
Ravi Prakash Verma reiterated the dismissal state of digital education that is currently endorsed by states which is not in reach of millions of children in our country. He suggested that it is important to work at the grassroots with community members, CSOs, parents to bridge education of children who have had learning loss. He emphasized on creating a child friendly atmosphere in every village to revive their learning that was lost over the period of last two years.
Vishambhar Prasad Nishad echoed the collective apprehensions about private education and its ill effects. He expressed his disappointment for government’s lack of political will towards children’s education even during the Pandemic. He appealed CSOs to raise their voices to amplify their concerns.
Earlier welcoming the participants, Mitra Ranjan, Coordinator at National Secretariat of RTE Forum presented Forum’s demand to #Unlockeducation and requested the members of Parliament to take these demands to their respective constituencies to endorse them. He said that India’s lockdown is the world’s fourth longest lockdown and this has affected education, children’s psychosocial wellbeing especially it has disturbed social protection of children from marginalized section. Quoting a survey, he said that 64% of children in rural India feared that they will have to drop out of school, only 15% of rural household had internet connection,80% of Parents in Government schools and 59% of parents in private schools reported that education was not effectively delivered. He said that this is an indication of massive learning loss. When children need support the most, the education budget of 2021 has also been reduced.