03Jul2014

Implementing Right To Education in Villages Around Mewat

The Right to Education (RTE) act is regarded as one of the greatest new pieces of legislation in India. RTE establishes education as an inalienable human right. But ensuring quality education for all children in India will require development work, especially in rural areas.

Mewat is one of the most backward districts in the state of Haryana. The area has only 3,895 students, 63 teachers, and 13 primary schools. The region’s literacy average is 44.07%, a stark contrast to the state average of 67.91%. The female literacy average is even lower at an average of 24.26%. Providing quality education to all children in Mewat is likely to be an uphill battle.

The RTE act requires schools to form School Management Committees (SMCs). SMCs should be comprised of parents, local governance bodies and school authorities. The committee ensures that the school’s needs are met to provide students with quality education.

Sehgal Foundation offered Rural Governance (RG) training to some villagers in Mewat. The training taught villagers about the structure of their local governments and about the RTE act. It also gave them the skills to stand up to authorities when services are lacking in the community.

The education department fixes the education fee for students in grades 1-5 at Rs. 45. The local school in the village of Santhavadi began demanding Rs. 70 from parents for students. The RTE act prohibits government schools from accepting additional money for students. RG trainees began investigating this matter.

RG trainees discovered that the fee demanded varied and that the school would not supply receipts. They attempted to resolve the matter peacefully by talking to the teachers directly. After futile attempts at getting rid of the fee, RG trainees marched onto school grounds. They threatened to contact the Block Education Officer (BEO) and the Deputy Commissioner (DC) if students’ payments were not refunded. After seeing the size of the outraged crowd, school authorities agreed to cancel the fee and refund the students’ money. A similar incident occurred in the village of Uletha. School authorities also agreed to refund the money and promised to take steps to ensure that this would not occur again.

A lot must be done in order to provide all children in Mewat with quality education. Education facilities need to be expanded to fulfill demand. Rural communities need to learn about their right to and the value of education. Sehgal Foundation will continue to offer Rural Governance training courses. It hopes that as more learn about the RTE act, villagers will stand up and ensure that education is improved in their communities. Collective community action can make quality education available for all children in Mewat.

For more information, please contact:
Email: communications@smsfoundation.org