Education for underprivileged children is nothing more than a bundle of incentives
India is signatory to the UN declaration on rights of children (1959) and subsequently adopted the National Policy on Children in 1974. The Secondary Education Commission (1952-53), the Indian Education Commission (1964-66), the Programme of Action (1990) all have recommended on bridging gender and social group gaps.
The different national programmes like District Primary Education Programme (DPEP), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) had a major objective of reaching the unreached and bridging the gaps and subsequently efforts were made in terms of incentive schemes, free-ships, special schemes like Alternate and Innovative Education, Bridge schools, residential hostels and other support that take education to the door step.
The Eleventh five year plan titles ‘inclusive growth’ and aims to improve the quality of life of people especially the underprivileged
. The twelfth five year plan, in context of RTE ensures not just physical access but social access by addressing exclusionary practices.
While six decades of independence has constitutionally made equity in education a reality through number of provisions and acts, the chief being the Right to Education, on ground this is still a far fetched thought. The education surveys, ACER reports, reports on supervision and monitoring of SSA across different states and independent researches show that education for underprivileged children is nothing more than a bundle of incentives.
There is a lot of hue and cry over the 25% reservation in private schools under RTE. While the government has made efforts for physical inclusion, it is the civil society especially the teachers, administrators, the implementers of the policy provisions as also the private partners who can make social and emotional inclusion reality.
Unless there is a common system of schooling for all irrespective of their economic, social, religious background, a sense of collective accountability to ensure quality education for all will never prevail and all efforts for providing education to underprivileged would only remain fake statements of promise.
(About the Author: Dr. Kashyapi Awasthi is currently working with the department of school and non-formal education at the National University of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi. Her special focus is on school leadership development)
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