The RTE Act gives all children the right to free and compulsory education, a major change in education policy that has the ability to significantly improve the quality of life of millions of children across India. Unfortunately though, implementation of the Act has been slow and the vast majority of schools in MSS’s working area do not meet the Act’s requirements. During the past year, MSS has focused on targeting its education-interventions towards ensuring that schools come closer to meeting the Act’s requirements.
School Management Committees
School Management Committees (SMCs) are mandatory in every school under the RTE Act. They are made up of parents and teachers and enable community members to take a role in the management of their children’s education. Responsibilities of SMCs include:
- Mapping out-of-school children and ensuring that they are admitted to their local school.
- Identifying children requiring special training.
- Conducting meetings with parents and guardians on the topics of school attendance and children’s progress.
- Preparing School Development Plans (SDPs), which provide a roadmap on improving the quality of every school and ensuring that the school meets the requirements of the RTE Act. This refers specifically to universal access; universal coverage; physical infrastructure; teaching; universal retention; and learning achievements. The SDP acts as the basis for all plans and grants made by the government or local authority.
A functional SMC has the capacity to ensure that every child is attending school and receiving quality education. They have the ability to ensure that government resources are acquired and distributed appropriately and to ensure that each student receives the government grants that are available to them.
MSS has worked to ensure that SMCs are implemented in schools and has undertaken numerous training programmes to build the capacities of SMC members and ensure that they are able to carry out the responsibilities that are required from them. As a result, SMCs have been able to implement significant changes in schools, improving the quality of education and ensuring that more children are able to benefit from education. This has included SMCs ensuring that classrooms are refurbished, clean drinking water facilities are constructed or repaired, good quality midday meals are provided, teachers are regularly attending schools and dropout children are returned to school.
|Case Study – Broaken Hand Pumps|
School Enrolment and Retention
MSS has worked hard to ensure that children are enrolled in schools through interacting with families of non-school going children along with PRI members, SMCs and other stakeholders. MSS has informed children and their parents of the importance of education and linked vulnerable children and families to social security schemes. MSS has also held child rallies supporting the importance of education and has facilitated education camps for non-school going children in order to give them the knowledge necessary to join mainstream education. As a result, communities place a greater significance on the importance of education, more children are enrolled in school and attendance of children is more regular.
|Case Study – Non School Going Phala|
The RTE Act stipulates that primary schools must have a student-teacher ratio of no more than 1:30 in primary schools and 1:35 in upper primary schools. Most schools in MSS’s working area do not have a sufficient number of teachers to meet these requirements. Furthermore, many of the teachers that are in place are highly irregular in their working days, meaning that actual teacher numbers are even lower. In order to combat this, MSS and other stakeholders have put pressure on schools and local education officers to increase the number of teachers in schools and ensure that teacher-attendance improves.
School Infrastructure and Facilities Development
Through the work, support and encouragement of SMCs, Village Development Committees, community members and MSS staff, significant improvements have been made inthe infrastructure of schools. This has included work such as repairing or installing hand pumps to provide drinking water, building school boundary walls, refurbishing classrooms, repairing and constructing toilets, building kitchens and kitchen sheds, and improving playgrounds. Examples of work include:
- Repairing the school gates, levelling the school playground and constructing a cement concrete road at Gurad Primary School.
- Repairing the hand pump and constructing a kitchen at Jatiwada Primary School.
- Improving the midday meal at Parmare, Rohimala, Malaniya Khurth and Melaniya Kala schools.
- Sanctioning new kitchen sheds at Melaniya Kala, Melaniya Khurth and Kaliya Gathi schools.
- Replacing the doors and windows at Gejvi School..
Kathodis are a nomadic tribal group with which MSS has a particularly close relationship. Originally coming to Rajasthan approximately 80 years ago, Kathodi people traditionally based their livelihoods on the production of katha, which is used in the consumption of paan. As the Acacia trees that katha is extracted from reduced in number, the Kathodi diversified to other forest products and forest-based labour. Speaking a combination of Marathi and Wagali, Kathodi occupy the lowest position in the social hierarchy. As a nomadic group, Kathodi families tend to spend a large proportion of each year migrating, usually between various labour sites. Adult literacy rates are just 6.1 percent for males and 1.0 percent for females. Furthermore, infant mortality rates are well above average in India due to poor living conditions, low immunisation rates and limited access to healthcare services.
MSS’s work with Kathodi communities began in 2012, when a detailed study was made of their living conditions. The study found that the nomadic nature of Kathodi families’ lives had made their ability to access social protection schemes, education and health services particularly difficult. The study identified 221 children that were either not attending or not enrolled in education. As a result, improving the standards and accessibility of education has become a strong focus of MSS in these communities. MSS is working to ensure that children are enrolled into school, and is facilitating links between these communities and education camps run by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme of the Indian Government. We are also organising mobile teachers that will follow each community when they travel to different locations, ensuring that children can continue to receive an education.