A convention at New Delhi highlighted the requirement of bringing pre-primary and secondary sections under the ambit of the Right To Education (RTE) Act. A status report on the implementation of the legislation was also published at the event. Speaking on the occasion, UNICEF representative in India Louis Georges Arsenault said the Act needs to be implemented in its true spirit "by including pre-school and secondary education in it".
The RTE Act has necessary components to ensure inclusive education in India, he added. In his opening remark, Ambrish Rai, national convener of the RTE Forum which has brought out the status report, pointed to the shortcomings in the implementation of the Act.
"Only 9.5 per cent of schools in the country have so far implemented the Act and millions of children are still out of schools," he said. He cited the number of government schools allegedly "closed down" in the name of merger, commercialisation of education and poor condition of school infrastructure, and called for reforms in the RTE Act.
The highlights of the report were presented by Suman Sachdeva of CARE India. The report also brought out certain achievements after the implementation of the RTE Act. Citing the 11th ASER report, it mentioned that in 2016, 68.17 per cent of schools surveyed had usable toilet facilities as compared to 47.2 percent in 2010.
Fomer diplomat Muchkund Dubey asserted that an uneducated India can not be a skilled India, while charging that there was a "lack of commitment" from high political level to implement the RTE Act.
Dubey also emphasized on including pre-primary and secondary education under the ambit of the RTE Act. India is the only emerging economy which has not universalised education yet, he added. The chairperson of National Commission for Protection ofChild Right, Stuti Kacker, focused on ensuring safe environment in schools for children and protecting them from sexual exploitation.
The RTE Forum is a collective of education networks, NGOs, teachers and RTE activists working for improvement in public education system in the country.