By March 31, 2015, elementary education was meant to be universal.The plan was to have every child between six and 14 in school; ensure all infrastructure was up to scratch; and teachers were in sufficient numbers and well-trained.But there is still a large number of children out of school, large number of teachings posts are lying vacant and many fear the Right to Education Act itself may be in danger. To top it all, 12 state governments have, till 2014, closed or merged over 80,000 of their own schools.
The 2015 deadline was one for the government to get teachers in place and trained. A survey undertaken by RTE Forum a conglomeration of child rights and education organizations, academics and educationists shows that there are 5.68 lakh teaching posi tions vacant and all states have hired large numbers of contract teachers; 19.69% of teachers are untrained.
Further, state contribution toward teacher training has been negligible despite the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee recommendations on teacher education. The RTE AForum's report quotes a National Coalition for Education report that states that till 2014, 80,647 schools have been closed or merged across 12 states with Rajasthan (17,129), Gujarat (13,450), Maharashtra (13,905) and Karnataka (12,000) being the biggest culprits.
Educationists are also distressed about the demand for non-detention policy to be struck down. “This cannot be done without the amendment of the RTE Act but indicates how there's an attempt to dilute its provisions,“ observes Batra.