Skip to main content

Pvt school principals on RTE quota: Integration of weaker section children not possible

By Rajiv Shah 
In a “critical discursive analysis”, two Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) scholars, Ankur Sarin and Swati Gupta, have found that strong biases exist among school principals of private schools against the weaker section (WS) of society. Based on a sample survey of private school principals of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka and Uttarakhand, the study, titled “Quotas under RTE: Leading towards an egalitarian education system?”, says, “Equality of opportunity appears to be outside the rationalities that well-meaning private school principals inhabit.”
Pointing towards how 25 per cent quota for weaker sections in private schools – mandated by the Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009 – has “led to a resistance, which is justified in several ways”, the study says, this is happening at a time when “access to schooling for those coming of school age is close to becoming universal”. Calling RTE as “prima facie most progressive step … that mandates the provision of free and compulsory education to children between the ages of six and 14”, it adds, “The quotas for weaker sections under RTE seeks to set contours of this landscape”.
Suggesting why it is important to see how RTE is performing among private schools, the study quotes Annual Survey of Education Report (ASER) 2013 study to say, “Most recent estimates of enrollment suggest that in 2012 over 35 per cent of all children are in private schools and that the annual growth rates in recent years has been around 10 percent. The numbers further suggest that their increased share is not simply because of faster growth of private schools but also a withdrawal from public schools.”
The scholars chose unaided recognized private schools for their survey, 17 per cent of whom charged an annual fee less than Rs 10,000 in the 10th standard, while 43 per cent charged more than Rs 30,000. The highest fee charged was Rs.1,84,000. Out of the total 36 schools, eight have been implementing quotas for weaker section children since more than a year and another eight have just begun to do it in the last year. Three schools plan to start it in the next academic year and 11 said that that they have not received any notification, while one said it was “exempted”.
Out of the 16 schools that claimed to have implemented RTE, three schools had allocated less than 15 per cent seats for weaker section children and two said that percentage of seats varied with the rest having allocated the required 25 per cent. Twelve schools said they did not receive any kind of reimbursement/ subsidy/ grant from either government or any private source, though under RTE the school is entitled to reimbursement of the fee and the child is entitled to reimbursements for books and uniform as per the mandate of the state.
The scholars of the study quoted school principals as saying that the quotas were being implemented with “no proper planning”, and were being forced upon then, “almost overnight, without any consultation or notification and leaving us struggling for proper information”. Comment the scholars, “Discontent on being reduced to passive participants was often accompanied by expressions of distrust and lack of confidence in state’s intentions and motives behind the policy.”
Interviews threw up interesting comments from principals, ranging from quotas being imposed “for their vote bank politics”, as an experimental policy “without understanding the reality”, to failure to understand the “damage it can cause to the child”. One principal asked, “Why is the government implementing weaker section quota, when government schools are empty despite their teachers being paid the highest salaries?” Another saw quotas as “government’s attempt to dilute the standard of private schools as they have failed to improve the standard of their own schools.”
The bias against the weaker sections was particularly visible among principals when they said that “these children sap all the energy and resources of the school.” This despite the fact that, to quote the scholars, “the Act (clause 12 (2)) mandates the government to reimburse private schools an amount equal to either the per-child expenditure incurred by the state or the actual amount charged by the school, whichever is less.”
Pointing towards how principals think “this is clearly not enough”, the study quotes one principal as saying: “They (government) haven’t really thought through it. The government has left everything on the school. Who will pay for these 25 per cent children? Ultimately the parents of the fee-paying children and as the number of these 25 per cent children keeps increasing, there will be so much pressure on the parents of the paying children that it will be impossible to sustain 25 per cent non-fee-paying children.”
When the scholars asked principals to describe problems that they anticipated or were currently facing in integrating weaker sections of children, 46 per cent (16/35) said ‘financial constraints’ was a ‘major’ problem. “A similar proportion (14/34) likewise said that infrastructural constraints are also a ‘major’ problem. 82 per cent (28/34) principals said that government should bear the financial burden from imposition of quotas for weaker section students, with quite a few principals calculating the ‘loss’ that the school incurred due to admission of non-fee paying children”.
The bias was particularly evident when the scholars tried to find out the principals’ view of the academic competency of the weaker section children. “Although exceptions were often mentioned, during interviews principals often referred to weaker section children as ‘slow learners’.” Thus, “37 per cent (13/35) principals said that weaker section children are very often or always weak in studies and 43 per cent (15/35) believed that they lacked interest in studies”, the scholars say.
Since almost all schools used English as the medium of instruction, the scholars said, competence in language was considered a significant area of concern, with 77 per cent (27/35) principals believing that weaker section children have “difficulty in learning English, always or very often.” The scholars comment, “These and other reasons often served as explanations for the increased burden on teachers”. A principal is quoted as saying that “teachers are very troubled because of the weaker section children as they are slow learners as well as the most mischievous in the class.”
This increased “burden” was also attributed to lack of support at home. The scholars say, “77 per cent (27/35) principals said that weaker section children lack parental involvement and a similar number also believed that their family atmosphere is very often or always not conducive to studies.” Some principals asked, “How will the child cope (with the academic requirements)? We cannot take care of this child when he is at home”.
The scholars quote another principal as saying, “At present, our good children are suffering because weaker section children are slow and as a result teacher has to slow down the pace which means she is unable to finish the syllabus on time.” They comment, “This was a feeling echoed in our survey, where 61 per cent of principals felt that slowing down of the pace of the class as a result of inclusion of children would be a ‘major’ problem”.
Then, there was the view that the social distance that separates children belonging to weaker sections from their privileged counterparts is “unbridgeable”. The scholars say, “While some attributed this largely to social backgrounds of children being integrated, others more reflectively characterized the issue as ‘neither can they connect with us nor can we’. Some spoke about problems it creates for the class as whole, asking, ‘What if other children don’t want to sit with them? It brings disharmony to the class’.”
During the survey, 43 per cent (15/35) principals said that weaker section children “very often or always” have problem in relating to their classmates and a similar proportion felt the same about discipline related issues being a ‘major’ problem they anticipate from inclusion of weaker section children; and 31 per cent (11/35) felt that weaker section children use abusive language very often or always. A principal is quoted as saying, “They behave like hooligans and often engage in stealing and using abusive language. Our children don’t want to sit with them and our teachers come and cry in front of us because of them.”
The scholars quote one principal describing the type of “temptations created by integration would make thieves of the children being integrated.“ The principal said, “I will tell you – child from ‘low’ (poor) class steal things from their classmates, like notebook or pencil. The child feels that why can’t s/he buy such expensive stationary like others in the class. Then these children start stealing from classmates. This is how these children learn to steal which leads to big thefts when they grow up.” In fact, 25 per cent of the principals felt that weaker section children stole from classmates very often or always.
Among the “solutions” to the problems they listen, principals wanted a separate school should be created for the weaker section children “where teachers belonging to their background will be appointed and then they will flourish”, or alternatively “a separate afternoon/ parallel shift only for disadvantaged children as an alternate”. One of the principals said that his school was considering making a separate section for weaker section children for better classroom management. Another described having separate parents-teacher meetings, as “it is difficult to talk to them and it is better for other (fee-paying) parents.”
The scholars conclude that the study suggests it is “unrealistic” to hope that private actors would perform the task of implementing 25 per cent quote under RTE “on their own accord”. The scholars insist, “To argue that disadvantaged children be kept in separate schools is an argument that can only be constructed on the grounds of protecting privileges that hitherto have remained unchallenged. Although limited, we do find some evidence that some educators perhaps are seeing quotas as an opportunity to enact their roles as social change makers.”

Comments

TRENDING

Although sporting genius, Wasim Akram was mascot of cricket globalisation era

By Harsh Thakor*  Since Independence India and Pakistan produced a galaxy of cricketing stars that permeated cricketing artistry of legendary heights. Amongst this bunch.Wasim Akram manifested pure cricketing genius to the greatest height.I speculate how India’s fortunes would have changed had partition not taken place and Wasim playing for India. Wasim Akram explored realms untranscended in bowling wizardry, like a painter devising new art forms or a scientist experimenting. He simply re-defined the art of reverse swing, reversing the ball in and out. There were bowlers quicker, more accurate and with better records, but none equalled Wasim in an all-round package. He was more lethal with a new and old ball than any fast bowler ever. Wasim could produce balls that were surreal, with his reverse swing, defying laws of bio mechanics He was simply the epitome of versatility, possessing a repertoire of six different deliveries within an over itself, disguising deliveries in the manner of

Zakir Naik tumult, Catholic Church power abuse: will Anwar Ibrahim save Malaysia?

Anwar Ibrahim By Jay Ihsan*  Anwar Ibrahim, a hardcore reformist who took a punch to his eye in 1998 from then inspector-general of police, Rahim Noor, has finally been given the mandate by Malaysians to serve as the nation's 10th prime minister. Anwar knows too well the burden of staying true to both trust and faith the people have in him requires every once of commitment and dedication. The question is will he be apologetic for his transgressions enroute to "rebuilding" Malaysia? In his overzealousness to get the job done, Anwar, 75, needs to safeguard every bit of gumption to address prickling issues plaguing the safety of the nation especially those involving communal sensitivities. For one, dare Anwar get rid of terrorist hate preacher and fugitive Zakir Naik for inciting religious unrest in Malaysia? In November 2016, India’s counter-terrorism agency filed an official complaint against Naik, holding him responsible for promoting religious hatred and unlawful activi

Galileo-Catholic church affair: must history repeat at Malaysia’s St Francis Xavier church?

By Jay Ihsan*  Christianity is the enemy of liberation and civilization -August Bebel Christianity taught men that love is worth more than intelligence -Jacques Maritain Real Christianity can be summed up in two commands: Love God and love people. - Joyce Meyer Pious XI was too neutral to mention the gas chambers; decent people like my own family were turned into devils by crude Christianity - Lionel Blue Religious doctrines cannot escape the liberty of thoughts and expression. To each their own, so it is said. From all things nice to all things that make one cringe - religion is polarised and in this regard, Christianity has over time faced the wrath of bigotry espoused by those "bequeathed" to protect it. Take Pope Francis for example. He had a secret meeting with giant pharma Pfizer chief executive officer Albert Bourla last year while the world struggled to make sense of the word "lockdown" and suffer adverse effects of the Corona virus vaccines produced by Pfiz

Qatar World Cup has a strong Bangladesh connection: stadium construction, t-shirts

By Mashrur Siddique Bhuiyan*  The FIFA World Cup fever has unquestionably cut through the minds of mass people all over the world. Stadiums in Qatar are buzzing with football fans and athletes representing their countries at the “Greatest Show on Earth". The magic of the FIFA World Cup is so enormous that even being unable to participate does not matter much to the fans who support different nations. This is one of the highest viewed events in the world, with the 2018 event viewed by about 3.6 billion people worldwide. But this crowd is not aware of the contribution of migrant workers who helped build the very stadiums where the matches are playing in. Qatar won the bid in 2010 to host the FIFA World Cup 2022, which got the oxymoron of celebration and controversy. This also created the potential for Qatar to Showcase its monumental economic achievements and unique culture on the global stage. The motto for Qatar’s bid team in 2010 was ‘Expect Amazing’ and migrant workers across th

A classic, 'Gandhi' ignores merciless cruelty unleashed on militant freedom fighters

By Harsh Thakor  The movie ‘Gandhi’ produced by Richard Attenborough, which was released 40 years ago on November 30th, 1982, was classic in it's own right. Ironical that it took an Englishman to embark upon the making of a film on this legendary figure. I can't visualize a better pictorial portrayal of Gandhi's life or an actor getting in the skin of the character an exuding the mannerisms as actor Ben Kingsley. Episodes are crafted and grafted surgically, illustrating how Gandhi wove fragmented bits into a cohesive force, to confront he British empire. Most boldly the movie unfolds how British colonialism subjugated the Indian people to barbaric cruelty. With great mastery the cinematography captures the vast Indian landscapes and essence of livelihood of Indians under colonial rule. The movie most illustratively shows the crystallisation of anti-colonial fervour from the embryonic stage and how it fermented into an integrated movement. In a most subtle manner it illustr

Implementing misleading govt order to pollute Hyderabad's 100 year old reservoirs

Senior activists* represent to the Telangana Governor on GO Ms 69 dated 12.4.2022 issued by the Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MA&UD), Government of Telangana: ‘...restrictions imposed under para 3 of said GO Ms 111 dated 8.3.1996 are removed...’: *** Ref: GO Ms 111 dated 8.3.1996: ‘To prohibit polluting industries, major hotels, residential colonies or other establishments that generate pollution in the catchment of the lakes upto 10kms from full tank level as per list in Annexure-I...’ We come to your office with grievance that GO Ms 69 dated 12.4.2022 issued by Government of Telangana not only contains false information issued ‘By Order and in the name of the Governor of Telangana’ , without any scientific or expert reports, but also that implementation of the said GO is detrimental and can be catastrophic to the Hyderabad city as two 100 year old reservoirs Osman Sagar and Himayath Sagar were constructed as dams on river Moosa and river Esa, with the first and

Film on evidence of viability of in situ communitarian urban water management

By Rahul Banerjee  Over the past few years it has become increasingly clear that centralised urban water management in India is in deep crisis. Water supply is both inadequate and extremely costly, water harvesting and recharging and used water treatment and reuse are mostly absent and storm water management is a disaster. Under the circumstances, the only viable solution is communitarian in situ water management and this is what has been proposed in the latest guidelines of both the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation and the Swacch Bharat Mission. Our NGO, Mahila Jagat Lihaaz Samiti , has not only implemented communitarian in situ water management but has also carried out research to provide evidence of the unviability of centralised water management and the suitability of the former. Here is a film based on a detailed research that I did on urban water management in Chhattisgarh for the National Institute of Urban Affairs, New Delhi, that succinctly critiques cen

Terrorism and right-wing politics in Bangladesh: Exploring the nexus

By Shafiqul Elahi*  Although terrorism as broadly understood as violent extremism or militancy has long historical roots, in Bangladesh, it surfaced in the 1970s through leftist militants. Later, it shifted to Islamist extremism in the 1980s and flourished throughout the 1990s, and reached its peak in the early 2000s. The menace of terrorism particularly in the form of Islamic militancy has widely been felt in Bangladesh's society and polity since 1999. Since then, several militant groups have gained ground and started to challenge the government over the issues of the political process and social systems in the country. The central goal of the operations of the militant groups is to establish an Islamic regime in the country. The Fifth Amendment of the Bangladesh Constitution under the Zia regime in the late 1970s and the eighth amendments of the Constitution under the Ershad regime in the early 1980s have placed Islam at the state level to recognize its importance in the country

Floods: As ax falls on most vulnerable, Pak seeks debt cancellation, climate justice

By Tanupriya Singh  Even as the floodwaters have receded, the people of Pakistan are still trying to grapple with the death and devastation the floods have left in their wake. The floods that swept across the country between June and September have killed more than 1,700 people, injured more than 12,800, and displaced millions as of November 18. The scale of the destruction in Pakistan was still making itself apparent as the world headed to the United Nations climate conference COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November.  Pakistan was one of two countries invited to co-chair the summit. It also served as chair of the Group of 77 (G77) and China for 2022, playing a critical role in ensuring that the establishment of a loss and damage fund was finally on the summit’s agenda, after decades of resistance by the Global North. “The dystopia has already come to our doorstep,” Pakistan’s Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman told Reuters. By the first week of September, pleas for h

Alarming US data on child mental health: Wake-up call to end social malaise

By Bharat Dogra  If 1 out of 2 high school girls feel persistently sad or hopeless and one out of six students plan suicide in a year, isn’t it time for a society so affected to look inwards at what has gone wrong, so that at least, and as a first step, the causes of such a dismal state of affairs can be identified correctly? After all, effective remedial action depends first and foremost on a proper identification of causes. This is all the more necessary in a situation when, as this alarming official data for year 2019 for USA tells us, in addition there is an incredibly high rate of increase of these problems. According to the data of the  (the latest such data available at present and also quoted by the USA Surgeon General in the advisory issued by him in 2021), in 2019 37% of all high school students and half of female students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness. What is more, within a decade (2009-2019), this had recorded a 40% increasing, rising from 26% to