Chennai | In high literacy Tamil Nadu, RTE = Right to exclude

CHENNAI: Belying its standing as the 14th most literate state in the country and, with Kerala, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh, its position as one of the four most literate large states in India, Tamil Nadu has been particularly disappointing in its implementation of the Right To Education (RTE) Act, 2009.

Five years after the act came into effect on April 1, 2010, Tamil Nadu’s enrolment of students under the legislation, which guarantees education to all children in the age-group of six to 14, stands at a mere 11.3%, much lower than the national average of 29%. Like all other states in the country , Tamil Nadu also failed to meet the extended deadline of March 31, 2015 set by the government for complete implementation of the act.

These figures were provided by the ‘State of the Nation: RTE Section 12 (c)’ report recently released by IIM-Ahmedabad, Central Square Foundation, Accountability Initiative and Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy .

The RTE Act mandates 25% reservation for children from underprivileged sections in private unaided schools. The report, however, shows that of the 1.43 lakh RTE seats for students in Tamil Nadu, the state managed to fill only 16,194 seats till the end of the academic year 2013-14. Of around 16,000 seats, the state filled 9,896 in rural areas and 6,298 in urban areas.

In recording 11.3% of enrolments under the RTE Act in 2013-14, the state performed only marginally better than it had the previous year, when the figure was only 8.8 %. Tamil Nadu has the third-lowest enrolment rate among the 10 states with the largest availability of seats under the legislative provision. By contrast, Madhya Pradesh, with 88.24%, accounted for the highest enrolment rate and Rajasthan too managed a more than creditable 69.38%.

School participation too was poor in the state, with only 1,392 of 10,758 private schools admitting at least one student, or a participation rate of 12.94%.

IIM-A ‘s Sunaina said the researchers found that there was no clarity in many states regarding measures to implement the RTE Act. “Deadlines are useless if the stakeholders are not aware of the measures they have to take to effectively implement the act,” she said, adding that this could delay making universal education a reality .

The study primarily relied on District Information System of Education (DISE) data, Professor Ankur Sarin of IIM-A said. He said the researchers found discrepancies when they stacked up the data against information from other sources. “DISE data is the most comprehensive government data available but we found the numbers to be inconsistent in various states when compared with data from Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, school and state websites and responses to RTI applications,” he said.

He said the government would have to develop accurate data collection methods to measure the progress made in universal education.

Source: The Times of India

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