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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 5th June 2019

  • IASbaba
  • June 6, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 5th June 2019

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(MAINS FOCUS)


NATIONAL

TOPIC: General studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Better implementation of the Right to Education Act

Background:

In India, the right to education was made a fundamental right by inserting Article 21A by the Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002. It was enabled with the subsequent enactment of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009.
However, its implementation has been a challenge for most States as they have discretion in how the Act gets implemented.

No child left behind:

  • The RTE Act bears many similarities to the U.S.’s No Child Left Behind Act, including school accountability, assessment standards and teacher training. Like the U.S., in India too States have been given major leeway in deciding the course of implementation.
  • Section 12 (1) (c) of the Act mandates all private schools (except for minority schools) to allocate 25% of their seats to economically weaker sections, i.e. those families with an income of less than Rs. 2 lakh a year, and other disadvantaged groups like Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the physically challenged.
    The State government will then reimburse these schools for students admitted under this provision, at an amount per month that is determined by the State rules.

Issues to be addressed:

  • A problem that recurs every year is mandated access to underprivileged sections of society. The process for admission under Section 12 (1) (c) is far from perfect. This is evident in the large number of vacancies in several cities in the country. For instance, on the last day of admissions under the RTE Act, under the first lottery there were 20,835 vacancies in Maharashtra.
  • Despite the use of GIS tagging, several parents complain that the system is faulty in identifying nearby schools.
  • Financial problems continue to mar the system — many schools collect money for textbooks and uniform though this is part of the State-stipulated fees.
    This is a chain reaction: the Centre is supposed to release up to 70% of the funds for this programme which is often delayed.
  • While moving the system online has led to transparency, in many States the management committee as per the RTE Act has not been notified.
  • RTE rules also state that unfilled seats can be filled again in September but governments have no conspicuous public announcements regarding this.
  • There have also been several grievances regarding the ‘1 km radius’ criterion, especially for rural residents who may not have any private schools in their vicinity.

Leading by the example:

Tamil Nadu, which has always been at the forefront of educational progress in India, has made certain strides in the implementation of Section 12 (1) (c).

  • It has widened the ambit of “disadvantaged sections” to include HIV positive children and transgenders.
  • A centralised database has been created by the State where people can access all the matriculation (State board) schools in the State which lie within 1 km of their residence.
  • Another notification has been issued to bring all schools affiliated to boards other than State boards under the control of its Director of School Education for RTE implementation.

Going forward:

  • The procedure for admission should be made through a single-point window online for all school boards, with computer kiosks to assist parents who may not be able to fill the form online.
    A mobile application should be built with live information on the number of seats available in each school under the 25% quota.
  • An RTE compliance audit should be conducted for all schools every year by the State Education Department. Any aid given to private schools must be tied to the levels of compliance achieved by the school.
  • Several schools do not adhere to the 25% quota. These schools should be penalised and derecognised if continuous violations occur.
  • Every school should declare prominently that it is RTE compliant — and the admission procedure, including deadlines, should be displayed at the school premises.
  • On the government side of things, funds need to be released in a timely manner, so that it inspires confidence in schools to fill all the vacancies.

Conclusion:

Section 12 (1) (c) of the RTE Act recognises the need for inclusion, and explicitly establishes responsibility on all stakeholders to contribute towards this goal.

Its only after all the stakeholders involved work in cooperation and in true spirit that the RTE Act will serve its purpose.

Connecting the dots:

  • Complications related to various provisions of the RTE Act need to be addressed in order to ensure that education in India become inclusive. Elucidate.

NATIONAL

TOPIC: General studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. 

The draft National Education Policy, 2019

In news:

The draft National Education Policy, 2019 is out in the public domain, with comments sought from all stakeholders. Drawing inputs from the T.S.R. Subramanian Committee report and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), the K. Kasturirangan Committee has produced a document that is comprehensive, far-sighted and grounded in realities.

Unique features of the policy:

The draft policy seeks to revamp all aspects of the sector and suggests brave new ideas. The idea that lifelong education is based on four pillars — learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together and learning to be — has inspired the committee to cover every aspect of the education sector: school, higher, vocational and adult education.

It also includes the whole gamut of professional education — engineering, medicine, agriculture, law, etc.

  • Early childhood education:
    In school education, the idea is to cover children of 3-18 years [instead of the present 6-14 years under the Right to Education (RTE) Act], three years under early childhood care and education (ECCE) and four years under secondary education.
  • Restructuring the 10+2 education structure into a 5+3+3+4 structure so that the five years from ages three to seven or till the end of Std 2 are seen as one “foundational stage”.
    The next two stages, of three years each, are “preparatory” and “upper primary”, first ensure the acquisition of foundational skills and then their development.
    These stages are not only consistent with the development of children, but they are also useful to meet the overall goal of ensuring basic learning outcomes stage-by-stage.
  • Higher education:
    The aim is to double the Gross Enrolment Ratio from 25% to 50% by 2035 and make universities the hubs of research.
    – Tier I universities/institutions devoted primarily to research and some teaching.
    – Tier 2 universities devoted to teaching and some research,.
    – Tier 3 institutions comprising mainly colleges that are to be converted gradually into degree-giving autonomous institutions.
  • Achieve ‘universal foundational literacy and numeracy’ through initiatives like the National Tutors Programme and the Remedial Instructional Aides Programme.
  • Introduction of school complexes, a system of modular Board Examinations to allow flexibility, setting up Special Education Zones in disadvantaged regions, recognising teachers at the heart of the system, moving teacher education into the university system, and stressing the importance of learning new languages are among the key recommendations.
  • The policy recommends community and volunteer participation in collaboration with schools to overcome the current crisis. Schools generally work in isolation from the community they serve.
  • The policy recognises the crucial importance of liberal arts (it recommends setting up five Indian Institutes of Liberal Arts offering four-year courses) and the study of modern and classical languages (it recommends setting up National Institutions for Pali, Prakrit and Persian).
  • It proposes separate institutions for regulation, funding, standard setting and accreditation, a National Research Foundation, and a Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog/ National Education Commission.
  • Vocational education, meant for 50% of the students, is sought to be integrated with school and higher education.

Challenges in implementation:

  • Doubling of public funding to 6% of the GDP and increasing overall public expenditure on education to 20% from the current 10%.
    This is desirable but does not appear to be feasible in the near future given that most of the additional funding has to come from the States.
    Though innovative financing schemes have been proposed, involving the private sector, how those schemes will shape up remains to be seen.
  • Expanding coverage under the RTE Act is extremely important, but should be introduced gradually, keeping in mind the quality of infrastructure and teacher vacancies.
  • The idea of regulation being brought under the National Higher Education Regulatory Authority, standard setting under the General Education Council and funding under the Higher Education Grants Council may require a revisit so that there is synchronisation with the current Bill for the Higher Education Commission of India.
  • Language issues have to be handled sensitively in view of their emotional overtones, as witnessed recently.

Conclusion:

The “learning crisis” is very deep. The education system — public and private — has been deteriorating rapidly and has affected the quality of our human resources.

If this trend is not reversed, the dysfunctional system will become more and more expensive but will not deliver the goods. It will require a huge commitment and conviction to make it happen.

Connecting the dots:

  • Discuss unique features of the draft National Education Policy, 2019. Also comment on the challenges in implementation of suggested recommendations.

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