What explains the failure to implement RTE?

The school education department was upbeat from last one year about the implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act-2009, which was applicable to J&K post abrogation of Article 370 from constitution of India and reorganization of J&K into a Union Territory (UT).

The school education department claimed that the implementation of RTE Act in J&K will open up opportunities for the students, and will also end the monopoly of private schools. Under the RTE Act, the private schools will have 25 percent seat reservations for students belonging to the economically weaker section (EWS).

It was expected that the new law would be implemented from the academic session 2019-2020 in schools but the implementation was delayed due to the prolonged closure of the educational institutions in the Valley.

All eyes were on the J&K government to implement the Act before the commencement of new admission of students in private schools for the 2020-2021 academic session. But the government has failed to implement the Act in the J&K. The Act should have been implemented from the last academic session, but for want of rules, its implementation continues to get delayed.

The delay in implementation of RTE Act in J&K has exposed the government that apparently surrendered before the top notch private schools who have already started their admission process for kindergarten classes. Even some of the schools have also released the selection list of the students who got admission in the kindergarten section of the school.

Under the Act, the private schools cannot charge any capitation fee from the parents of the students but given the silence of the government and its dilly delaying tactics in implementation of the Act in J&K, the private schools continue their monopoly and have started the admission process as per the previous norms under which they charge capitation fee and also force parents to fulfil various unnecessary formalities.

But this year the government has once again surrendered before the private schools and are acting as mute spectators and watching the violation and illegal profiteering of the private schools.

The seriousness of the government can be gauged from the fact that last week principal secretary school education department Asgar Samoon convened a meeting with the representatives of private schools association and school functionaries of various top notch schools to discuss the implementation of the RTE Act and the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020. But some people from elite schools have created a lobby and are trying their best to delay the implementation of the RTE Act in J&K. The delay in the Act will give a free hand to these private schools to fleece parents. At the end there was no outcome of the meeting as the majority of the private schools continued with their admission for Kindergarten classes without caring for implementation of new rules.

The department has framed all the rules and guidelines as per the RTE Act-2009 which is awaiting approval from the advisors office for its implementation but the same is being delayed for the past many weeks.

There can be only two reasons for the delay- either the administration has succumbed to the pressure of the private school lobby or it is a partner in the crime. There is no other reason with the government to justify the delay in the implementation of the RTE Act. Post abrogation of Article 370, the J&K government implemented all other Central rules and Acts. But there is an inordinate delay in the implementation of the RTE Act.

Some of the top notch private schools are underway in their admission process, some have completed the process, and there are others who have just begun.

Given the sequence of events, it seems the government will not succeed in getting the Act implemented in J&K and private schools will continue with the same old system.

Forget about the implementation of the Act, the government could not even streamline the admission system by getting it implemented in a synchronized manner so that parents would get a better choice for their kid. Every school releases a selection list on different dates and gives only two to three days to parents to pay the donation and the admission fee. In this process, the parents are forced to choose any school which issues the selection list prior to other institutions, or else lose the money if they later decide to opt for their own preference.

The private schools started the admission process of students despite the verbal direction of the Director School Education Kashmir (DSEK) to hold the process for some time, till the rules for the Act were notified. But very few schools adhered to the directions while the rest continued with the process.

This time again the government has been exposed for its poor implementation of rules. The government has once again failed in regulating the private schools. The inactiveness of the government is self-explanatory; they are giving a cushion to the private schools and killing the time in finalizing its policies that are aimed at making private schools accountable.

It is better for the government to accept its failure in regulating private schools instead of praising the policies which often remain confined to papers in J&K. Stop giving cushion to private schools by delaying implementation of the RTE Act 2009.