Class cloud on govt schools

New Delhi, July 18: Does the quality gulf between Kendriya Vidyalayas and ordinary government schools mean the state is discriminating between the rich and the poor, the Supreme Court asked the Centre and states today.
The court notices came in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) that argued that governments cannot run two sets of schools, good ones for the privileged and inferior ones for the poor.
Some of the “good” central government schools mentioned in the PIL, filed by the NGO Social Jurist, are: the Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs), the Sainik Schools and the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs). Among those run by the states, the petition mentions some Delhi government schools such as the Pratibha Vikas Vidyalayas, Model Schools and the Sarvodaya Vidyalayas.
Social Jurist counsel Ashok Agarwal contrasted them with the ordinary municipal and rural schools, saying the “discriminatory” state-funded school system “violates the basic principles of equality and social justice”.
The top-end KVs, the petition says, spend Rs 11,000 a year on every student whereas ordinary government schools spend just Rs 1,800. “This vast difference (among) government schools indicates the varied pattern of education that is provided…,” it adds.
The website of the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, however, says the country’s 550-odd JNVs look to provide “quality modern education to talented children, predominantly from the rural areas, without regard to their family’s socio-economic condition”. They offer free education, and the admission process includes an all-India examination held at the district level.
Lawyer Agarwal said the dropout rates in municipal schools were as high as 40 to 50 per cent, and that less than 15 per cent government schools had electricity. He urged the court to get the government to fix uniform standards for every state-run school in the country so that every child had access to equitable education.
The bench said this was a serious issue and sent notices to the Centre and all the states and Union territories, asking them to explain what they had done to ensure quality education for all. In 1993, the apex court had ruled that elementary education was a fundamental right of every child below 14 years.
Social Jurist argues that the two-tier system further marginalises the weaker sections.
“Children belonging to SC, ST and Muslim communities are the most deprived in the matter of educational facilities and opportunities,” the PIL says.
This, Agarwal said, violated the spirit of Article 46 of the Constitution, which requires the state to promote their education with special care. He argued that if the right to education was safeguarded for every child, the problem of child labour would be eliminated.
Saturday , July 19 , 2008
SAMANWAYA RAUTRAY
http://www.telegraphindia.com

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