17 Jul 2010

Impact of RTE Act on A&I Schools

Author: hashcookies | Filed under: Taleemnet

On July 14, 2010 a National Consultation on the impact of the RTE Act on Alternative/ Innovative schools was held at YASHADA, Pune. Around 30 persons attended. Its purpose was to gain a deeper understanding of the RTE Act and its impact on our work. Dr. Maxine Bernsten of Pragat Shikshan Sanstha that runs an innovative school (Kamala Nimbkar Balbhavan) in Phaltan, Maharashtra, took the initiative to organise the consultation.

The meeting brought together a few alternative and innovative educators from across the country; academicians; researchers; Vinod Raina who was closely associated with the framing of the RTE Act; Anita Rampal and Prof. R Govinda and representatives of the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Mumbai.

Vinod Raina underlined that the three conditions specified under the schedule in the act viz: infrastructure, teacher qualification and govt. recognition cannot be waived and they are required to be complied by all schools. He also suggested that the word `alternative’ has been much abused by various players and alternative educators should now refrain from projecting themselves as such.

The position of the alternative schools and the concerns of the alternative educators were put forth as also the rationale for the framing of the RTE Act.

Prof. R. Govinda of the National University of Education Planning and Administration (NUEPA) acknowledged that infrastructure could be a real issue and maybe there would be scope for case by case relaxation. He also said that, trying to dilute the need for teacher qualification could prove to be a Pandora’s Box. He pointed out that there was a five year window which could be used to influence the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE ) to come up with an innovative contextualised teacher education programme. In the area of Curriculum and Pedagogy, he felt that, there was a lot of freedom still, as long as one followed the basic State Curricular Framework. He was however wary of the idea of a national council for Alternative Education and felt that a more locally authenticated body would be more appropriate.

Both indicated that M&I (meaningful and innovative) school stakeholders should engage with the process of formulation of RTE rules in their respective States.

Kiran Bhatty of National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) that has been given the task of monitoring and grievance redressal vis-à-vis RTE Act informed the gathering that a dedicated cell had been set up by MHRD under NCPCR for monitoring RTE (www.rtemonitoringcell.info). Its main brief is to safeguard the rights of the child to education.

Padma Sarangapani suggested that educators should engage with the states to change the present confusion with the word curriculum which is often taken to mean syllabus, textbooks, preset time etc – and bring in the NCF notion of curriculum to ensure that schools can have greater freedom in use of content, pace of learning etc.

There was a suggestion to try and influence a rethink on what constitutes teacher qualification by engaging with the NCTE

The meeting later broke up into three sub-groups for further discussion on:
a) Forming an association and establishing criteria for the same
b) Flexible routes to teacher certification and qualification and
c) Engaging with and impacting the larger system.
Detailed points that emerged from the discussion within the subgroups will be sent to all shortly.

Post meeting a smaller group consisting of Alok Mathur from Rishi Valley School, Chittoor Dist., Ramgopal from Centre for Learning, Hyderabad, Nyla Coehlo from Taleemnet, Goa, Jane Sahi from Sita School, Bangalore and B. Ramdas from Vidyodaya, Gudalur, reviewed the outcomes of the meeting and decided to take up the following :

– Creation of a Forum under the banner – India Forum for Innovative and Meaningful Education.
– Establishing parameters/criteria for M & I schools.
– Developing a knowledge base of innovative and meaningful education in the country
– Exploring options for innovative teacher education programmes.
– Setting up a dedicated website for the above.
– Educating ourselves with detailed implications of RTE and continuing with advocacy through various means.
– Engaging with NIOS to revitalise its OBE programme.

If you have any suggestions, write to indiafime@gmail.com

Read FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) on the RTE prepared by Vinod Raina on the behest of UNICEF.The document credits its genesis to debates and interactions with persons who were closely associated with framing and promoting the ACT.  Apart from perfunctory factual clarifications, it indicates beyond doubt that the Govt. and its advisers are indifferent to the educational interests of the children of this country and are insensitive to the diverse social-cultural-ethnic reality that this great  subcontinent represents.

Leave a Reply