People as Changemakers: Community based management for right to education | Politics

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This paper addresses the ways in which the community, a primary stakeholder in any education system, can influence the government's initiatives to carry out India's Right to Education Act of 2010. Practitioners, academics and policy-makers have come together to analyse the Act which sets out to achieve the fundamental right to education for all children between the ages of 6 and 14.
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  Oxfam India working   papers series June 2010OIWPS - II Richa Kapoor Essential Services: Community Based Management for Right to Education People as Changemakers  In the light of recent passage of Right to Education Act as a fundamental right to all children between 6-14 years of age, there is a critical need to fi nd ways in which this can be realized. It is also now widely acknowledged that without community as a primary stakeholder in the process, this right would not meet its intent. The Act provides for various entry points for such a purpose, most critical of them being School Management Committees. Oxfam India and many other civil society organizations have been working through various models for quite some time in which community of parents, teachers, local institutions and civil society have been working together to provide a vision in which this right can be realized. This paper attempts to capture some of those learnings which can show the pathway in which community’s direct stake can be built in accessing free, quality and universal education for all. Abstract  About this working paper: This paper was conceived primarily as a means to collate some of the ongoing work around community based management practices in education so that it could become a good learning tool for future practitioners. A discussion was initiated towards the same on Solution Exchange (the UN website for knowledge sharing). It was after this that Richa Kapoor, the intern working with Oxfam India did her fi eld work to do further in depth research. Based on her fi rst draft, a two-day national consultation was organized by Oxfam India and Wada Na Todo Abhiyan where various practitioners from about 15 states, activist-academics like Vinod Raina and Prof. Janaki Rajan, Prof. Apoorvanand, and policy experts like Dr Santosh Mehrotra, Advisor, Planning Commission, B. Muralidharan, Advisor, UN Resident Coordinator, participated in the same. It was given a fi nal shape by Kaushik Dasgupta. The paper acknowledges all their contributions towards the same. Disclaimer: Oxfam India Working Paper Series disseminates the fi nding of the work in progress to encourage the exchange of ideas about development issues. An objective of the series is to get the fi ndings out quickly, even if the presentations are less than fully polished. The papers carry the names of the authors and should be cited accordingly. The fi ndings, interpretations, and conclusion expressed in this paper are entirely those of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the views of Oxfam India. Produced by:   Oxfam India  For more information, please contact:  Avinash Kumar  Theme Lead, Essential ServicesOxfam IndiaPlot No. 1, Community Centre2nd Floor (Above Sujan Mahinder Hospital)New Friends Colony, New Delhi - 110 025Tel: 91 11 4653 8000Website: www.oxfamindia.org  INTRODUCTION On April 1, 2010, the Government of India notified the rules for the recently passed Right to Education Act, named, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act. This Act had already received the President of India’s assent on  August 26, 2009. The Act intends to give shape to the right of free and compulsory education for all children between the age of 6 and 14. Article 21-A, inserted by the Constitution (Eighty-Sixth Amendment) Act, 2002, provides for such a right. The salient features of the Right of Education Act include The Act at a Glance The Act is a detailed and comprehensive piece of legislation which includes provisions related to schools, teachers, curriculum, evaluation, access and specific division of duties and responsibilities of different stakeholders. Key features of the  Act include:   Every child from 6 to 14 years of age has a right to free and compulsory education in a neighborhood school till completion of elementary education.   Private schools must reserve a quarter of their class strength for students from weaker sections and disadvantaged groups, sponsored by the government.   All schools except private unaided schools are to be managed by School Management Committees with 75 per cent parents and guardians as members.   All schools except government schools are required to be recognized by meeting specified norms and standards within 3 years to avoid closure.   No child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until completion of elementary education   A child who completes elementary education (up to class 8) shall be awarded a certificate   There must be a fixed student-teacher ratio of 30:1.   Mandates improvement in quality of education   School teachers will need adequate professional degree within five years or else will lose their jobs   The financial burden will be shared between state and central government. But the effectiveness of these provisions will depend on getting the ‘right’ design that will ensure accountability and transparency in implementing the act. The Right To Education Act does have many provisions to ensure accountability through decentralization, including the creation of school management committees (SMCs) empowered to make plans and monitor school-level expenditures. But as is well known in India, the devil lies in implementation. It is increasingly being realized that without active participation of citizens, policy and program initiatives will not deliver, certainly not in any inclusive way. Citizen’s participation helps in mobilizing public awareness as well as building a strong sense of ownership of government policies and programs. It also creates greater transparency and accountability, holding public officials/politicians responsible on their promises. Such initiatives at the local level are also invaluable in bringing local issues, problems, aspirations and needs into sharper focus, so that indigenous fixes can be provided for them. Enabling such participation is also a means of empowering the marginalized groups.
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