Eleven lakh teachers appointed till March 2015 under the Right to Education (RTE) Act will now get time till 2019 to acquire the prescribed minimum qualifications for firming up their appointments as Parliament today passed a bill in this regard. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was passed by the Rajya Sabha by voice vote. The Lok Sabha had passed it on July 22. According to the existing Act which came into effect from April 1, 2010, these teachers were to acquire minimum qualifications within five years by March 31, 2015.
According to the amendment bill, every teacher appointed or in position as on March 2015 is now required to acquire the minimum qualifications by 2019. The amendment will help teachers save their jobs. When the RTE Act was implemented in 2010, new schools were set up but qualified teachers were not available and unqualified teachers, including those with graduation degrees, were recruited, according to the government. Human Resources Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said when the government sought information regarding private schools, it was found that 7 lakh teachers lacked basic qualification. “Then there are 1.5 lakh (teachers) who have completed one year of training. Besides, there are around 2.5 lakh teachers still in government stream. So, there are around 11 lakh teachers in total who are without proper qualification,” Javadekar said. The government has brought this bill in order to let these teachers complete Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) and other professsional degrees, he added.
The government would provide free education to these teachers through ‘Swayam platform’ beginning October 2, Javadekar said, adding registration of the teachers will take place from August 15 to September 15. “With everyone’s support, we will train 11 lakh teachers within two years. …A foolproof system been created to train teachers. We have taken support of all states,” he said while replying to a debate on the bill. Under a scheme ‘Swayam Prabha’, teachers will not only be trained offline but also online and even through direct-to- home (DTH) television channels, he said. There will be a moderate registration fee and course material will also be given in hard copy as well as in CD, while 12 days’ face-to-face training in a year has also been planned, he said. That apart, Javadekar said that a four-year integrated teachers training course is on the anvil, which will be launched soon.
“22 members participated in the debate and supported. This proves that education is not a political agenda, it is a national agenda,” the minister observed. On members’ concern about poor quality of teachers and government schools, he said the government has thought of five initiatives to address the problem. Firstly, the learning outcome for school children has been codified and defined, and an handbook been given to schools and a poster will be put in schools by month-end. Also, parents will be given the same so that they are aware and there is accountability on this aspect, he said and urged members to visit schools in their constituencies and see if there see any change. In the absence of systematic evaluation of children of Class 5-8, many schools have become midday schools. So, exams are to be held now, he added. Barring census and election duty, no other non-acadamic work is assigned to teachers, Javadekar said.
About the five-day week in schools, he said it is an issue to be decided by the states, not the Centre. He also made it clear that budget allocation for various schemes has not declined and in fact it is being better targeted. Earlier, Congress member Jairam Ramesh targeted the BJP, saying it should be rechristened as ‘Bharatiya Jumla Party’ as its leaders had termed as a ‘jumla’ (slogan) the election “promise” that Rs 15 lakh would be deposited in each Indian’s bank account if all the black money stashed abroad was brought back. Shamsher Singh Dullo of Congress, while participating in the debate, said the disparity between government schools and private schools is increasing day-by-day. He said people are losing faith in government education with even daily wagers trying to send their children to private schools.
Vinay P Sahasrabuddhe of BJP said the previous UPA government did not bring the Right to Education Bill properly. Javed Ali Khan of SP asked the government to look at the pitiable condition of over 1.72 lakh Shiksha Mitr (elemantry teachers) who have been shunted out jobs following a Supreme Court order. Tiruchi Siva (DMK) urged the government to focus on improving the quality of education and fill up the vacancies of 9 lakh teachers across the country. Viplove Thakur (Cong) wanted english to be made compulsory in government schools to make children more competitive. Kahkashan Perween (JD-U) wanted curbs on private schools. Anil Desai (SS) sought to know the fate of teachers who are left out while expressing concern about contract teachers. Rajeev Shukla (Cong) suggested the government to divert unused funds of other education schemes to Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan and introduce English in government primary schools.
Derek O’Brien (Trinamool Cong) wanted the deadline for such teachers to get degrees to be extended to March 2021. “We have collectively failed….there should be no politics with education,” he said and cited example of West Bengal, saying it trained 80,000 teachers in six years. Jharna Das Baidya (CPI-M) too reiterated the demand to make the deadline March 2021 instead of March, 2019. Anubhav Mohanty (BJD) questioned as to why the government did not take proper steps in March, 2015. He demanded that the government make education below the age of 16 compulsory. Vijaysai Reddy (YSR Cong) demanded that the teachers should not be deputed on duties other than teaching. D Raja (CPI) said Parliament enacted it in 2009 but it was collective failure that its stipulations could not be met.
He said 92 per cent teachers were in the private sector and 10 per cent shoucls were run by single teacher. He also demanded free and compulsory education for children up to secondary level. K Rahman Khan (Cong) said seven years is quite a long time and it is the responsibility of the state to provide free, compulsory and quality education to children. He said there were no surveys of neighbourhood despite clear cult provisions. Also, he said private management were offering 25 per cent of the seats and said unfortunately therw were no surveys of households. There is huge dropout in government schools and he also quoted CAG report that the scholls were lacking even basic infrastructure.