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Odisha fails to implement Right to Education Act

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Bhubaneswar: Even nine years after enactment of Right to Education Act (RTE), Odisha failed to register a significant success in implementation of the law as the elementary education is found to be in mess.

The RTE Act describes the modalities of the importance of free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 in India under Article 21(a) of the Constitution of India. The law makes education a fundamental right of every child between the ages of 6 and 14 and specifies minimum norms in elementary schools.

As per the RTE Act, there should be two teachers for 60 students, three teachers for 90 students, four for 120 students, five and a headmaster for 200 students from the class I to V in the primary school. There should be one teacher in each class from VI to VIII. However, the government has failed the student-teacher ratio in the primary schools by last academic session.

Apart from shortage of teachers, lack of infrastructures, class rooms and toilets in primary schools are other reasons behind decline of student enrolment.

Sources in the School & Mass Education (S&ME) said that the infrastructure including class rooms, separate toilets for boy and girl students, drinking water facility and kitchen are yet to be completed. There is no playground in more than 40,000 schools, no separate toilets and the construction work of kitchen for cooking meal under Mid-Day Meal (MDM) programme is still in progress. Around 70% primary schools do not have boundary.

The government should have made five-year plan for proper implementation of the RTE Act in Odisha and the old process is not being monitored. With the change in the department secretary, the rules also get changed affecting the system in elementary education, said Purna Chandra Mohanty, a retired teacher.

In view of degrading scenario in primary education especially in state-run schools, the government has decided to bring reforms from this academic session.

However, the S&ME department appeared to be satisfied with the existing system in primary education.

The RTE Act is being implemented in Odisha, said S&ME Secretary Pradipta Mohapatra.

The students are being provided free textbooks from beginning of the academic session. There is one teacher posted for 23 students in Odisha that we never find in other states. The schools, where one teacher was appointed, will get more teachers. Recently, the government has appointed 14,807 teachers. The students will be given free shoes from 2018-19 academic session for attracting them to get admission in state-run schools. The government has made allocation of Rs 103 crore in the budget for free shoes in schools, he said.

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