'RTE Act doesn’t define outcome of learning'

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SummaryInterview with L V Sehgal — Chairman of the National Progressive Schools Conference & Principal Bal Bharati School, Ganga Ram Hospital Marg.

In my school, the number of registrations has gone up by 1,000 in a single year.

The RTE also makes certain demands on schools. By March 31, more than 2,000 schools in the city may not qualify for recognition under the RTE as they may not have facilities as required under the Act. If these schools are closed, what happens to the lakhs of students who will get displaced? We have to be practical. For recognition, there is also the rule that schools must pay the salary and perks in accordance with government rules. When these schools charge a bare minimum of Rs 300 from its students, how will they pay such amounts? When compared with government schools, these schools are doing a reasonable good service in terms of teaching and learning.

All schools may not have the same necessary standards. There can be different categories of schools and they can have different criteria for recognition.

There is also the question of achieving 100 per cent enrollment through RTE. Would you say we are anywhere close to that?

Surveys have shown that enrollment has increased in the last three years but do we want enrolment or quality education. RTE is good but it is mostly an input-oriented Act. Nothing is specified about the output. Learning outcomes need to be defined. Schooling up to Class VIII is not the aim, there should be defined parameters to ascertain the child’s performance after he/she completes Class VIII.

What about the fact that no student is failed till Class VIII?

If a child has not achieved certain learning outcomes, both the child and the school have failed. Children will come out of the school system by the millions as not qualified. This way, the accountability of the teacher is also being diluted.

The school should be allowed to retain a child till they meet the learning requirement. We also have to provide an “Elementary School Certificate” to those students who complete education till Class VIII, irrespective of how they have done. It is a measure of “completion of school” and not passing or failing. There has to be some sort of

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