Fr. Kuriala Chittattukalam sdb
“India’s educational plan”, a term used by the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh describing the 11th Five Year plan, has put forward a decisive step by bringing out the “Right to Education Act- 2009”. To education he gave the highest priority in achieving rapid and inclusive growth. The target was to raise the public spending in education to 6% of the GDP. The HRD ministry was to focus on equity, quality and inclusiveness.
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) wanted to educate every child of all social groups and bring down the dropouts in elementary education. It is still a far cry from the truth.
In the 11th plan it was found that “private aided and unaided schools account for 58% of the total number of secondary schools and 25% of the student population”.
With regard to Technical and Vocational training, the available in National Service Scheme ( NSS) data, show that only 3% of rural youth and 6% of urban youth had any vocational training. “While we have 5,000 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) (under the Ministry of Labour) and 7,000 Vocational Schools (under the Ministry of HRD), China has about 5,00,000 Secondary Vocational Schools”
With regard to Higher Education we see that only 10% of Indians have access to University education, while many of the developing countries the figure is 20% -25%.
Today we have only 500 universities catering to 14 million students. There will be about 44 million students to be catered for in the coming decade. The HRD ministry would like to cater for 30 million students by 2020 says a report.
The 11th Five Year Plan had stressed the need of
“Ensure minimum standards and norms for public and private schools and address systemic issues of accountability and decentralisation of decision making, teacher recruitment, teacher training, learning outcome measurement, teacher motivation”.
“Recognise and encourage the role of private providers”.
With regard to Vocational and Technical Education it was decided to
“Modernise existing public sector infrastructure to get into PPP mode with functional and governance autonomy”.
“Enlarge the coverage of skill spectrum to 1,000 trades with relevance to our emerging needs”.
With regard to innovation it was suggested to
“Foster increased collaboration among the R&D institutes, Universities and private sector enterprises and leverage upon their cumulative strengths in designing and implementing various innovation programmes”.
The Christian Community is proud to have the joy of educating the masses of India, irrespective of caste, creed, colour or gender. It might interest you to know that the Catholic Church was one of the first institutions that pioneered the education of girls in India. In addition we are proud to mention that the Catholic Church has the distinction of having the highest number of Technical Schools after the Government.
The Church has been in the forefront in the education of subaltern groups and rural uplift. The Church has always stood for Constitutional values of the country: justice, liberty, equality, fraternity, secularism and democracy.
Today, the Catholic Church in India has
Schools (Lower Primary to XII) 13,004
Specialized schools 243
· Colleges 450
Formal Technical Institutions 534
Non- Formal Educational Institutions 310
· Night shelters/ boardings/ training centres for street children 2500 +
Of these nearly 60 % are in the rural areas and 40 % in the urban areas.
Total number of students attending our institutions is 69, 05,566.
· Boys 31,76, 466
With regard to the income group percent wise
Higher Income Group 6.9 %
Middle Income Group 19.3 %
Lower Income Group 32.4 %
Poor (Below Poverty Line) 41.4%
The Christian Community is only 2.3% of the population of 1.15 billion in India. Out of this, the Catholic population will be only around 1.6% of the total. Yet, as Mr. P N V Nair says in FnBnews of April 21, 2010, “ India tops in high quality of education thanks to the educational institutions run by the Christian Church”.
The minority educational institutions’ right ‘to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice’ [Constitution Art 30 (1)] guaranteed by the Constitution of India has been practically being obliterated by the numerous legislative interventions of the Centre and State Governments. The present RTE Act, though a beautiful document for universal education, takes over all the administrative powers of the minority institutions especially through Section 21 & 22 of the Act and the powers given to the local authorities.
Too many bureaucratic regulations stand in the way of recognising and funding of many of the primary schools started in the rural areas. These rules need to be simplified for fast universal education of the poor.
Various State Governments have introduced the contract system of appointing staff. When the Government is serious about quality education and restructuring education this is counterproductive. It dilutes the efforts of the Government to enhance the quality of education and commitment of staff.
In aided minority schools the vacant posts of the staff is not filled.
The Government of India has suggested that 1500 colleges be upgraded as Universities. A number of leading colleges and most of the colleges with potential for excellence are run by Church organisations. They have also obtained high praise from NAAC. We request the Colleges run by the Church be considered for this upgradation in the interest of quality and value based education. We appeal that this be effected without cutting off the financial grant of the State Government and the UGC.
We request the Government to amend the Central University Acts so that the Minority Institutions can affiliate themselves to them irrespective of the territory. Further the existing Universities run by the Minorities also be permitted to affiliate other minority colleges across the country.
There is an increasing interference by the respective State Governments in the administration of the institutions. This places a lot of strain on the institutions. We request that certain basic norms be evolved at the national level which will be applicable to all the States especially in the area of administration.
Some of the Universities and the State Governments insist on seniority alone in the appointment of Heads of Institutions. They also interfere in the selection of the staff. Both are guaranteed to be the prerogative of the Management as a Minority right by the judgement of the Supreme Court. We request that this be respected in letter and spirit.
5. There are many unfilled vacancies of teaching staff in colleges. This places enormous strain on the administration of the colleges. This also affects the quality of education.
Ban on appointment of teachers at the Primary and Higher Primary level. Our aided schools especially in the rural areas are affected adversely. The children find it difficult to pay the minimum fees of Rs. 60/-. Several of the vacancies are not filled. The managements are struggling to run the schools. The Provincials are doing their best to help these affected schools. The schools have real financial problems. Hence they are unable to appoint quality teachers and give quality education.
With regard to High School, the ban is lifted. However, the BEO’s and DDPI’s insist that we have a Government nominee as a member of the selection committee, even though we are protected by article 30(1) of the constitution and have to right to make our own appointments. Besides we have to obtain prior permission with respect to vacant post and can advertise only after doing so.
The BEO’s and DDPI’s harass the management and ask for huge sums of money to pass appointments and for the renewal of affiliations.
The new state scale pertaining to salary of teachers is very high. The managements especially in rural areas are unable to implement the new scale as most of the children hardly pay fees. In some of the schools in the district head quarters the children pay fees but the fees cannot be hiked suddenly to pay the new scale. The officials are threatening the management with withdrawal of recognition because the new scale is not implemented.
Most of our schools have a huge strength. Each class having 70-90 students. This is mainly because of the pressure from the education departments and politicians.
If the RTE is to be implemented our problems will be compounded with SMCs interfering with the school management thus causing disturbance and ethos of the institutions. The Government does not allow us to collect extra fees in order to implement the state scale or to pay the teachers a decent salary. Therefore we fail to quality teachers in our schools. Co- curricular and extra curricular activities in aided schools is not satisfactory because the Government has restrictions with regard to fees collected for the above. Hence the co-curricular and extra curricular activities in most of our aided schools is substandard.
The official at the lower level demand money from the schools to conduct inter school sports and extra curricular competitions. They often put the entire burden of the above on private schools even though they gets funds to conduct the same. The higher officials like the Commissioners and secretaries are not corrupt, besides they are polite and helpful. However, they are unable to do much because of the education ministers. The Government is a BJP run Government and it is no anti christian. This is not secret. Everyone in the department is aware of the step motherly treatment meted out to us by the education ministers.
According to the RTE bill the schools run by us have to apply for renewal all over again and there will be constant inspections and undue interference and harassment by the Education Officers and the SMCs. Our fear is that the 25% seats allotted for the poor will be misused and will be taken up by the politicians and education officials.
When we apply for up graduation like Primary to High School or High School to PUC there is a lot of red tapeism. Even though the schools ensure that they have the necessary infrastructure and meet all other requirements of the inspection committee the minister withholds the applications and insists on meeting the management. Even after meeting the management permission to upgrade or start new institutions is delayed.
The Government has put a ban on English Medium schools. Currently there are no takers for Kannada medium in Karnataka. The Government itself has closed down 100’s of Kannada medium schools. In private aided schools the strength in the Kannada section is very low but there is a tremendous rush for English medium resulting in overcrowding of English medium sections and excess of Kannada medium teachers. Since these teachers know only the Kannada language they cannot be absorbed into our English medium schools.
If the managements are desirous of starting ICSE or CBSE schools the Government does not grant the permission easily. NOC is required. The management has to pay huge sums of money and inspite of it the NOC is not forthcoming.
Minority certificate to minority institutions : The Government has a director for minorities for issuing minority certificate. Since he belongs to a minority community things are ok at this high level. However, the lower officers BEO’s and DDPI’s harass institutions and ask for a bribe to pass the applications to the director.
Financial assistance to minority institutions: Funds allotted for minority communities by way of scholarships and infrastructural development don’t reach Christian communities easily. A number of our institutions have applied for funds for infrastructural development as per the directions of the Central HRD ministry. However, the funds are not forthcoming. It will be nice if some Christian are appointed to allocate funds considering that Christian minorities are largely engaged in the education field.
At times the Government objects to faith formation given during class hours . The minority community has established schools so that it can preserve its religion and culture.
Section 18 of the RTE Act says that no school other than a school established, owned or controlled by the appropriate Government or the local authority shall after the commencement of the Act be established or function, without obtaining certificate of recognition from such authority by making an application in Form No.1 to the concerned District Education Officer regarding its compliance or otherwise with the norms and standards specified in the Schedule.
NORMS & STANDARDS FOR SCHOOL :
No School shall be established or recognized, under Section 18, unless it fulfils the norms and standards specified in the schedule.
Where a school established before the commencement of this Act does not fulfil the norms and standards specified in the schedule, it shall take steps to fulfill such norms and standards at its own expenses, within a period of three years from the date of such commencement.
Where a school fails to fulfil the norms and standards within the period specified under sub-section (2), the authority prescribed under sub-section (1) of Section 18 shall withdraw recognition granted to such school in the manner specified under sub-section (3) thereof.
With effect from the date of withdrawal of recognition under sub-section (3), no school shall continue to function.
Any person who continues to run a school after the recognition is withdrawn, shall be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees, and in case of continuing contraventions to a fine of ten thousand rupees for each day during which such contravention continues.
However, this is not applicable to Government schools. Isn’t it gross injustice?
The Government should lift the ban on appointment of teachers in aided schools.
Teacher student ratio of 1:30 should be maintained in all schools.
Staff to be given orientation annually.
Every staff will attend at least one workshop cum seminar on Leadership/ Effective Teaching methods/ Counselling/ Human Rights use of innovative methods in teaching / use of the latest technology and the like.
Aided as well as unaided schools should give due importance to co-curricular and extracurricular activities and be permitted to collect appropriate fees for infrastructure, co-curricular and extra curricular activities.
Aided as well as unaided schools should be permitted to collect building fund (when required).
Government should not insist on minority institutions having a Government nominee in the selection committee for the appointment of staff.
Action should be take against corrupt officers in the education departments.
Permission for up graduation or starting of new schools should be given if the inspection committee recommends stating that all norms are fulfilled. Education Ministers should not uphold permissions.
Schools already recognized need not apply for fresh recognition. They only apply for permanent recognition
Permission should be granted to start English medium schools.
Government should encourage starting of ICSE/CBSE schools without the State NOC.
Minority Certificate to be certified by the head of the minority community i.e a Bishop of the Catholic Church, or mainline Churches, before issuing it, so that bogus schools with Christian names do not get the Minority certificate.
Funds should be earmarked for Christian institutions and they be disbursed through a Christian Officer.
Minority Institutions are protected by article 30 (1) of the constitution. Hence there should not be undue interference from the Government. and Government should regulate minority Institutions with regard to qualification of staff and framing of syllabus ( the latter in consultation with education experts from minority communities).
Government should not object to faith formation classes held during class hours for Christian students, as this is the primary purpose for running our institutions.