Child Rights and Right to Education –
An ‘Emergency’ Situation
Child Rights and Right to Education – An ‘Emergency’ Situation
This article is also published in India’s Best Legal Journal – Legal Mitra
Writer – Rewati Raman Vishewar
Writer is Educationist and Co-Founder at The ZERO Curriculum™.
Within next few years, we are going to solve the outsourcing problem which America has with India, growth problem which China has with India and also inequality problem which exists within. American corporates would not want us, not because so mandated by law, but for the reason that we will not possess skills and knowledge required for those times. We will not be in any kind of competition with china as only import will happen with them and we would become their cheapest sweat workshops. Also, we all would be equally under-educated; this inequality problem is also taken care of.
If anybody finds it dreary, then beware, this is not even one percent of what we are going to face in recent future. Very few times it would have so happened that any free democratic society, in the wake of bringing some positive reforms, would have taken such blunder steps that will covert coming generations into disables… educationally disabled.
Ahoy! Recently, lots many changes are taking place on the educational face of India, most of the significant changes have been effected in the last eight years. Various rules regarding professional entrance examinations have been changed; Right to Education has been codified. India, being a signatory to United Nation’s 4 A’s Scheme (Availability, Accessibility, Acceptability, and Adaptability), ensured the enactment of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009. This law has failed in fulfilling 4 A’s Scheme due to two broad reasons – One, law is not complete in its own sense so as to achieve 4 A’s Scheme, Two, many a times entirely wrong interpretation of statutory provision is being done by a law-applying organ (especially the facilitators and enablers). Various states have introduced their own Coaching Institutes Acts, Private School Education Acts, and Nursery Admission Rules. Various laws, bye-laws, affiliation rules and policies have been changed by State Education Boards and Central boards. And, now one of the most recent changes which are going to take place is that our Ministry of Women & Child Development has taken up that it is their business to bring about a reform in the space of Early Childhood Education and Care by introducing Early Childhood Education Curriculum Framework and introducing various Laws, Rules and Policies. Everything which looks so normal on the face is not so in fact!
Exhibit Box 1:
United Nation’s 4 A’s Scheme:
There are various ills which are brought by wrongly tilted Laws, affiliation rules, affiliation laws and bye-laws, governing rules and policies. Let’s begin from where it all started – ‘British’. Britishers were having largest empire to control, significantly different cultures to manage, and above all to manage such a vast empire without having Mobiles, Internet, Fast Jets and less advanced arms and ammunitions. We all agree that they did their job good (at least in their eyes) for approximately 200 years. One of the beautiful things which they created was and still holds to be good is Modern School System (confused to be Modern Education System). The Schools (confused to be Education) they built, were factories to manufacture Clerks, Labourers and may be at the most Supervisors or Administrators. Such, school system were primarily built to bring uniformity and not Education. Many things were right in the School System they had developed and many were wrong. In present days, we (the whole world) as a society, has developed a lot, in present times we know everything regarding what we need in coming times, how people study, what does a child comprise of and so on.
Land, Building and Infrastructures –
Anybody you will ask in entire India that what one requires to start a school, he will immediately say just three words – Two Acre Land. Be it Central Board or state boards, all they talk about is the size of land, size of rooms, bathrooms, open area blah-blah. It is not meant here that basic necessities are not required. Undoubtedly, they are one of the essentials; mind it, just one of the essentials! But, the material issue is that our legislature, by enacting badly and partly drafted statutes, had actually given out an entirely wrong message to the society – “Education ONLY means Infrastructure”. In fact, our legislature could not really comprehend the basic concept of education. Thereafter, came the private participation and big corporates into School Education System, they also understood (from Board’s Rules and Laws) that Education means buildings, and thus they brought bigger and better buildings. In all this, the fund at perusal got used in Land & Buildings as required by Board’s rules and little was left for other much required stuff.
By having such heavily tilted laws we have made sure that either Government or Real-Estate developers should come into starting school venture and nobody else. A group of educators motivated to bring a beautiful stream of education is not at all welcome, they should simply go and become a teacher with Real-Estate developers.
As per affiliation rules, among list of resources to be used in School System, the largest part is shared by Land & Buildings, and this also holds to be the costliest thing, so when it comes to private schools, astronomically high fee is directly proportional to such investments made in Land & Buildings. Now, parents (customers for school) have heard about Land & Buildings for so long that when they go to choose school for their ward they also have only one criterion in mind and that is Land & Buildings.
Land & Buildings of appropriate size is of course required to have a school, but, this is not the only thing that is required and how much of this Land & Buildings is required? Well, any man of reasonable understanding will see it, will know it, and that definitely is not as high, and, as costly, as two acre or even, one acre. Alternately, what if, one good educator wants to start a school for one hundred or two hundred disciples? There is no scope left, but, why there is no scope left, of course because still Government wants school to be only in two hand – First, Government themselves Second, very rich Real-Estate developers (for reasons known to entire India).
Syllabus versus Curriculum –
All boards prescribes syllabus. Firstly, National education Policy is made, after that National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) develops curricular frameworks, which in turn is adopted by all boards. All state boards adopts National Curriculum Framework, but each state prepares its own State Curricular Framework. All this process has some serious lacunae. One, syllabus are not prepared keeping in mind the challenges and shortcomings of present Indian teachers. Two, because of intrinsic inefficiency, syllabus thus available is taken too literally by our teachers. Three, revision of syllabus and its presentation instead of being a continuous process is in fact proverbial Five-Year plan and that too only lip service. Four, Syllabus itself is prepared by just doing downward integration, and this downward integration is going totally wrong as we have kept the level of our secondary as well as higher secondary standards very low. Five, our teachers are entirely incompetent (because of multiplicity reasons) of converting thus available syllabus into deliverable curriculum.
Presently, we are in a time when there is competition not only within India but entire world has in fact become one. In one of the most respected world rankings (PISA), India holds a pride second position (of course that was a joke, India stands second from bottom).
Our teachers are not aware regarding right process of teaching Numbers, Alphabets. The world has gone much ahead, much research and work has been done regarding teaching, its methodology, process, curriculum etc.
Now, the question is that why our schools are not able to have proper curriculum? Again, most of the reasons points to wrongly made affiliation rules and guidelines. Boards require Teachers to be B.Eds., and, that is the only thing which is now done. To run a school one needs affiliation. To have affiliation one needs B.Eds. to be Teachers (and not vice versa), and what is this B.Ed.? B.Ed. is age old format, not at all building required skills in a person to become a good teacher. Besides, the fact is that in India one who is idle and can’t do anything else goes to take admission in B.Ed. Program. So, now the teacher is with poor content knowledge, poor skills, B.Ed. Certificate and so egoistically talented to be teacher. Who created this all poor scenario? Poorly written affiliation rules and guidelines brought this entire problem.
So, now, we have all poorly developed Syllabus and entirely absent Curriculum and more so tragically disappeared education.
Exhibit Box 2.
To prepare National education Policy or to Develop curricular frameworks in India you require to have these vocabulary (and sadly nothing else is required) :
high order thinking skills,
too much pressure,
School Timings –
Continuing with the same question posed in ‘Land Building and Infrastructures’ paragraph – What besides Land is required to make it a school? Each Indian will reply you with the same answer – School Dress, School Diary and School timing of 8 AM to 2 PM.
Before proceeding with the discussion over ‘School Timings’, let us assume that a (mere) change in school timing is notified to teachers, now what will happen?
Everybody knows the answer, School Teachers are united lot (e.g. AII India Kendriya Vidyalaya Teachers Association), and they will go on strike, will act like as if they will pull down the government, will unite and vote for the political party who fulfills their self-fuelled wishes. (If you do not believe this then just see the recent manifesto of political parties where elections are being held).
India has average total schooling schedule of Six Hrs. Out of those Six Hrs., (at least) half an hour is for assembly, prayers etc, half an hour for lunch, half an hour for settling in various periods, lavatory etc. So, now four and half hour is left. Out of this four and half hour, keep aside 45 minutes for sports. Now, less than four hours is left for teaching and learning. Wait; now remove half an hour for class adjustment (adjusted class for absence of teacher), library, school festivals. What the child is left with is approximately three hours of teaching and learning. One need not go into much deep research to understand that these three hours, from the perspective of India, is not at all sufficient as per any standards. However, Finland has almost the same instructional hours as us and they have topped the world rankings (PISA), but that does not mean that whatever number of instructional hours we are having is good enough as we differ on almost all parameters with respect to Finland.
It surely is agreed that School shall devote time for non-academic and extra-curricular activities, but it should be done only when sufficient time is available. Outside school, the child has enough time to pursue various interests and if society cannot provide that, overburdening schools with-in such limited time is not at all an appropriate solution.
Generally, schools start at 8 AM, and so the transportation schedule starts at least by 6.30 AM (whereas in maximum cases it is as early as 6 AM). So, the child need to get up at 5 AM, it may be suitable for middle standard kids, but due to the routine of parents as well as child, not at all suitable for the children of kindergarten to standard 3.
It is strongly emphasised that in the absence of proper curriculum, proper quality instructions any increase of school timings will do no good and only ‘time-pass’ the students.
Exhibit Box. 3
Culturally speaking Indian are more (Factors which affect School Education):
Society having higher Power Distance
Society having more Fatalist approach
Society which has more respect for surnames, family achievement, economic affluence than personal achievement
Big gap between ‘have’ and ‘have nots’
Segregation of Pre-Primary, Primary, Middle, Secondary and Higher Secondary –
School is a complete society for the child, so there at school; the child comes to see both the goods as well as the evils of the society. Bullying, sexual wrongdoings are some evils of school society which passes from higher up classes to lower classes.
All laws of present times pertaining to School Education, Private Schools, etc instead of promoting segregation of Pre-Primary, Primary, Middle, Secondary and/or Higher Secondary sections/divisions is obstructing it.
Mainstream schools shall not be allowed to conduct Preschool and Kindergarten programs. Small toddlers and preschoolers in no way are able to adjust to mainstream school system. Affiliation should be promoted at least for two kinds of divisions’ primary division and Secondary and Higher secondary division. However, having three separate divisions – Primary, Middle and Secondary plus Higher Secondary division, would be most suitable and this would also contribute into satisfying of 4 A’s. Various changes regarding Land, Buildings, Infrastructures and others would be required to make such arrangement a possibility. Having such separate Pre-primary schools, Primary Schools, Middle Schools, Secondary School and Higher Secondary Schools will help a child in these – Time saving, additional time to pursue additional interest, social security. This arrangement will also attract educators to start up their won school.
Question paper setting and Marking System –
The manner in which question paper setting is done is in no way promoting students to seek proper content knowledge. Question paper of all boards (including CBSE) in no way tests the conceptual knowledge and understanding about the content areas.
Examination reforms have been pioneered by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). Examination system is degraded by CBSE itself, which got followed by State Boards. Presently students are training themselves to follow ‘Examination Pattern’. The pattern in which question is posed is not at all promoting content knowledge and is also not developing any skill sets. One of the prime reasons of having developed a poor examination system is having poorly designed syllabus.
The CBSE brought the optional new examination system, which is now developing a new bad culture among teachers and students. Students are now getting more trained to do ‘copy paste’ job and Teachers are getting more attracted to exploit their new found power to ‘award final board marks’ to students.
British needed people with beautiful handwriting because those were not the days of computers. All jobs were done through handwriting only, so they require people with good handwriting. CBSE followed it and all other state boards also followed it.
So, presently it’s not only that the question pattern is completely out of place but marking pattern is also destroyed. ‘Good Handwriting’, ‘More number of pages’, ‘Rote answer from particular text book’, are three things to score high in all boards.
The Metaphor of ‘25% seats to disadvantaged group under Right to Education Act’ –
From the beginning only everybody understood that such provision is just a lip service to the 4 A’s scheme. Besides, through this provision of 25% only these 2 A’s are addressed – Availability and Accessibility, whereas the other 2 A’s Acceptability and Adaptability are completely ignored. Now, the question is as to why private schools stood up against this clause? Reasons are plenty, one, schools found it tough to address and extend such facility to the ‘disadvantaged’ group, two, in practical sense (due to its application) it started meaning that ‘disadvantaged’ again meant SC & ST reservation (and again only well off people are taking the benefits), three, due to existent affiliation laws, majority school operators are big investors, and investors want profit, and such investors saw large share of profit going elsewhere, four, schools didn’t have any idea that how this ‘disadvantaged’ group could be adjusted among other ‘not so disadvantaged’ group of students (see Exhibit Box 3).
The Resilience Approach and making 25% metaphor a blessing –
Now, having 25% seats to ‘disadvantaged’ group well in place, there are various things which requires to be done and one very important tool is to bring ‘Resilience’ a part of curriculum. Teachers and Administrators also require training on various parts. Various other government schemes also require to be brought in line with such ‘disadvantaged’ students group. Like, ‘mid-day meal scheme’ would also require some change so that such group of students can find an“appropriate”(so that difference in Tiffin Box could be minimized) place in it.
Mother feeds her child, takes care of the child, gifts the child although even now in India we have NO legislation regarding this (laws are there, but ‘No laws are there’ is the position well accepted by us). In the same sense, government needs to make affiliation laws and rules in such a manner that ‘Mothers’ i.e. Educators, Enthusiasts, Alternative Educators (India has plenty of these), Socialists are attracted to start schools. It might be expected that these people understands themselves as ‘Mother’ and ‘Students Strengths’ as their CHILD.
Preschools – Curriculum, Affiliation, Infrastructure and 25% reservation –
It is universally agreed that ‘Right to Education’ is one of the Fundamental Right. It is the governments’ duty that everybody has this ‘Right to Education’. United Nation also came up with its 4 A’s Scheme for the same purpose. Various Courts have agreed that Schools cannot be run only for ‘profit’. No government can allow just anybody to erect a school, so to keep ‘the quality of education’ intact, government created various education laws, affiliation laws, policies and guidelines. From the beginning only such laws were obscure, irrelevant and obstruction in the education, for the very purpose it was made to promote. Now, because of such rules and laws, personal coffers are being filled, political patronage networks are created. ‘Neta-babu gathjod’ (politician and administrators, unlawful hand and glove relationship) has made sure that person with ‘right’ links only can come ‘in’.
Having proper exposure into wrong sets of Affiliation laws and rules, poorly designed syllabus, faulty question pattern, ‘unmindful and unprofessional’ professional entrance examination system, government enters into so far untouched pre-primary education system; popularly addressed as ‘Preschool’.
But, what does the government sees here? Government sees big money flowing, free entry and exit, large pool of people to bring under political patronage, extend the links and thus create stronghold over more number of people and above all seek immediate attention by taking some populous steps (badnaam hi sahi, naam to hua! – be it for wrong reasons at least we will be in news).
It would have come, as a matter of rejoice, that now Ministry of Women & Child Development (WCD) has taken up its business to bring about a reform in the space of Early Childhood Education and Care. But, such is not the case, because preschool operators have tasted ‘Right to Education Act’ and have paid a price (illegal) for the same. Preschool operators have understood that obscure laws are made purposefully, so that it gives immense scope in the hands of neta-babu to ‘extort’. In the name of ‘socialism’ much harm is being done and less fruitful results for the ‘actual people in need’ are achieved.
Ministry of Women & Child Development (WCD) will bring following major things in the space of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Curricular framework and laws:
One, just like the case of school affiliation, here also space requirements, bathrooms etc would be specified.
Two, state level and district level offices would be there to extend the affiliation.
Three, Teachers basic qualification would be mentioned.
Four, Curricular Framework (something less than the syllabus) would be provided which would be required by preschools to follow.
Five, Instructional language has to be local language.
Six, might be a possibility that 25% reservation rules is extended here.
Seven, might be a possibility that improper ‘Adult – Child ratio’ be introduced.
To drive on road, one requires to procure a valid driving license, we all good citizens knows to drive well, equally we drive well and carefully too. But, almost everybody has ‘paid’ to get such license. Valid license, mandatory vehicle registration, mandatory vehicle insurance, mandatory Pollution certificate (PUC), traffic police, traffic lights, lane markers, footpaths, than ever, as per the data of Government of India itself, we have 1 road accident every minute, and 1 road accident death every four minutes. What is going wrong?
School Affiliation rules are made in such a way that only big time investors, real estate developers can dare to come into it, and such people come only for ‘money’; profit. The interest of starting up an education center and extending a ‘gift’ to society is not at all there, and who brings such kind of people into the system? Wrongly made School Affiliation rules!
The kind of intention thus reflecting in WCD, clearly shows that government is again heading in the same direction. If we talk about preschools, almost 100% of preschools meets physical infrastructure i.e. space requirement. What preschools are lacking is Curriculum (which is entirely absent), Toys and equipment’s, motivation to carry good work and also parent’s insensitivity to good preschool education.
Existing peculiarities of Preschool Business space and good’s brought by ‘Laissez Faire’ –
One, Women dominated business space
Two, major self-employment generator
Three, mostly women entrepreneurs, and just having helping hand from male counterparts
Four, ‘Laissez Faire’ assured these entrepreneurs who otherwise do not venture into other areas because of negative bureaucratic impacts.
Five, ‘Laissez Faire’ assured Enthusiasts educationists, freelancer social scientists, psychologists to contribute a lot.
Six, ‘women’ got into this just because they found a balance between ‘family responsibility’ and ‘work environment’
Seven, Preschools need to be within the travelling time of 15-20 minutes as any time beyond it is a great discomfort for the child.
Eight, Transportation is a major cost for parents as well as preschools
Nine, semi-skilled or unskilled women to carry out such job takes up such responsibility and lot many times just by some training and some guidance they go on doing their job very well.
Ten, besides ‘skills, training and education’ to carry out preschool tasks the major thing which is required to carry out this job is ‘natural love for the child’. And, this ‘love’ part has a great significance.
Eleven, present pay scale of Teachers are in fact pathetic.
Twelve, 95% working space is covered by women.
Thirteen, even 10-15 kids in a preschool makes it a survivable business model.
Fourteen, government worked a lot in ‘Aanganwadi’ and won in numbers and have failed in delivering quality.
Simply put, the major point is ‘Preschool’ is billion miles apart from ‘School’. Preschool is a place which, in fact, should be rechristened as ‘Child Care’. Preschool is aplace catering to ‘Child Care and Education’, where both ‘Care’ and ‘Education’ holds equal significance.
Time is ripe for the government to wake up immediately and make preschool affiliation laws and rules in such a manner that it is transparent, valid, and proper and is also saved from useless bureaucratic process and political and bureaucratic corruption.
Government intends to increase its spend on ‘Childhood Education and Care’ space, whereas it is simply increasing its spend on building laws, licensing offices, employing babus and not on “Childhood Education and Care”.
Present time NTT, Diplomas are not at all relevant. They would have been perfectly ‘ok’ for some hundred years back, but as of now they are simply outdated. It should also be understood that simple under graduates / graduates, when properly trained can be groomed to be great preschool minders / care givers / teachers. Best option is that government shall bring ONE common central certification exam (kind of TOEFEL, IELTS), to be conducted multiple times throughout the year, and anybody who clears the exam shall be qualified to be Preschool Administrators and teachers / care givers / minders.
With respect to Curricular Framework being released by WCD, care should be taken to give it as suggested guidelines like “standards” to be met by the child (and also mention it specifically). Otherwise, preschools will just take that and go back to their ‘rote principle’, the ‘3 R’s’ and ‘one dance one rhyme’ approach.Children need to be taught a modern curriculum suited to the modern world.
Parents in India are not even good at one language they use in their home, that simply means that parents are not even good at ‘Local Language’ they speak. Besides, most of the households use double – language, where primarily English or Hindi is the other one used along with ‘Local Language’. Scientifically and research wise it is already proved that it is best and easy for the child to learn multiple language during the first ten years. Improper emphasis on ‘Local Language’ is only going to hamper the growth of child. So, preschool shall have freedom to use ‘Double Language’ or preferably ‘Triple Language’, so that it is easier for the child to have expertise on languages when he grows up. Exposure to ‘multiple languages’ has all positive benefit for the child and his brain cells and neurons.
Extending 25% reservation to ‘disadvantaged’ students would be fraught with much complexity beyond ‘resiliency’. A preschool teacher / care giver / minders are always in need to address various challenges because of children coming from diverse backgrounds. Some child has good number of toys, whereas some do not. Some child has parents with good language skills, whereas some do not. Some child comes ‘ready’ with all things required at preschool; whereas some parents just do not care.
India is a typical country where people still die of cholera. Communicable diseases are big challenges for preschool child. Harm that communicable diseases can do is also big. It is seen that even a difference in parent’s income, parent’s education, parent’s status, and parent’s locality of stay, has much to do with communicable diseases. Even a slight lack of addressing ‘Health and Hygiene’ issues can break havoc on the child. In present typical Indian scenario, in preschools with children coming from diverse family background, it would be real tough for them to address ‘Health and Hygiene’ in a proper sense. Child of ‘Poor’ and ‘specific caste’ has ‘Rights’ so do Child of ‘well off’ and ‘not so specific caste’ has ‘Rights’.
Why ‘Laissez Faire’ failed in ‘Preschool Education space’ –
The most essential element of ‘Laissez Faire’ is that ‘Customers’ should have proper knowledge. Here ‘The Customer’ is ‘The Parents’.
Parents in India still considers child as a parental property. ‘Parenting Skills’ is considered as something ‘natural knowledge’ which is ‘naturally possessed’ by all those who became ‘parents’. There is no ‘parenting inability’ concept in India, even warring parents, mentally ill parent, schizophrenic parents, are found ‘perfectly suitable’. Physical and mental punishments are considered the only solution by parents to make the child ‘correct’. A literate / educated parent thinks that the only right approach to education is which was adopted for him (as if time has not changed at all).
Governments as well as preschool shall endeavor to sensitize and teach ‘Parents’.
In a hurry to remove ‘Laissez Faire’, government is not sensitive at all to keep the ‘good’ brought by ‘Laissez Faire’. One can always criticize ‘Laissez Faire’, equally one can criticize ‘Marxists’, but each shall be seen from the perspective and on the ‘field’ it is being used.
As a Nation, we need to understand and accept this that child
is not only parent’s responsibility or school’s responsibility,
it is society’s responsibility. Pertaining to the situation of
rights of child, be it right of education or other rights, the
Nation is in situation of emergency, lets press the
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