Commitment to transparent functioning

We at Pardarshita strongly feel that while we demand the government departments to be transparent with everyone, we also have a duty of maintaining transparency in terms of our own work, expenditures, funding and so on. So, to re-iterate our commitment towards ethical and pardarshi work, we invite anyone to inspect our books of accounts.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Concept Note for Better Education for Economically Weaker Section and use of RTI (2008)

An important area where the poor people are facing problems in Delhi is the education sector. Although this section of the population has access only to government schools, yet it is widely recognized that the quality of education provided in such schools is extremely poor and deficient. This problem becomes worse in resettlement colonies where slum dwellers are shifted as per the needs of the government in the name of urban development. Most resettlement colonies in Delhi lack basic amenities like infrastructure, water, electricity, transportation, employment opportunities and health facilities in the vicinity. The problem of the children is compounded in these areas due to lack of proper schools, and playgrounds.
Education being the fundamental right should be easily available to all the people of the community.
MCD Schools
The schools run by Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) have the principal responsibility with regard to Primary Education in the city of Delhi. There are 6 schools in Old Seema Puri and New Seema Puri, Delhi that are run by the MCD. The economically weaker section depend on these very “MCD Schools” for the education of their children inspite of sad state of affairs of these schools.
A study of the condition and the environment of these schools reveal that:

  1. A student of such school cannot even read nor write in Hindi properly.

  2. Many of the teachers and other staff employed to teach in these schools can often be found anywhere but in the classroom.

  3. The basic infrastructure is often missing in the classrooms.

  4. A class, with a capacity for 40 to 45 students, has 100 to 125 students, squeezed in it. As a result children spend majority of their time either standing during the class or totally skipping it.

The people who are living in these areas belong to the low income strata of the society therefore they are too busy in trying to earn living for their families and are actually left with no time to get the basic education for themselves nor for their family. They lack awareness about their fundamental rights or the facilities, which they are entitled to from the government.

The government does contribute to the education sector by running MCD schools, some institutions are run by Delhi Govt. and there exists some which are known as Public recognized schools in locality/community.
Public Schools
On the other hand Public Schools are presented as non-profit undertakings. But the guardians of students of such Public Schools have reason to believe otherwise; donation worth lakhs of rupees are demanded along with school fees as building fund, cultural fund etc. An average middle class family aspiring to send their children to such schools has to seriously plan their budget and for the rest of us it’s an unattainable dream.
Approximately 397 schools in Delhi have received land from the Government at extremely subsidized rates on the condition that in return these schools would reserve 25% seats for the children of EWS in their schools, a condition continuously violated. The reasons given for not fulfillment of such conditions are that if such children are allowed to enroll in their school, they will destroy the school’s environment that caters to the needs of the elite class of the society. But the real reason for refusing the admissions to EWS is the drastic reduction in income that these schools make through donations.
State Failure
Apart from the schools, three other parties are guilty of violation of the Constitutional Right to education as well as the terms and conditions for allotting land at concessional rates.
• The Delhi Government and Municipal Corporation of Delhi have failed to ensure that all unaided Recognized Private Schools in Delhi (to which public land had been conditionally allotted) complies with the conditions of allotment of land with regard to admission of the children (25 per cent belonging to the EWS of society and grant free ship to them)
• The Delhi Government has further failed to frame rules or policies regarding provision for education to the children belonging to EWS of society by all Unaided recognized private schools in Delhi.
• The Union of India, Delhi Development Authority, Delhi Government and Municipal Corporation of Delhi were also unable to take action against erring unaided recognized private schools for noncompliance with the conditions on which public lands have been allotted to them.
Problems in Utilizing this EWS Clause:
Pressure groups not available
There exists no autonomous body which can exert pressure on the school authorities in case if they deny admission rights to any aspirant form EWS
Insensitive Decisions by judiciary.
The honorable system of judiciary did take efforts to pass the required directives to provide the basic rather a robust system of education to all the children of society. However unfortunately there exists no mechanism to ensure such availability.
Commercialization of education
The education system in our society has been commercialized so much that it has left behind the requirement of a basic good education being available to all the children of society, instead it has become a commodity to be available for haves' and not with have nots'
In societies like ours where the transparency in the system is yet to develop, the general public must learn how to make use of the right to information and government offices and administration must learn how to share information while safeguarding privacy and national interests. For both sides this requires an increased level of awareness of their rights, duties and obligations.
The project, which we propose here; shall be a pilot project and will be carried out in the resettlement and slum clusters of Seema Puri in Delhi. The programme shall cater towards an improved state of living for people and will strive to set an example for other areas to replicate.
Strength of our organization
Pardarshita is a non-profit organization registered since December 2005, founded by activists associated with Parivartan. A separate organization has been formed to focus on setting up resource centers in several low-income areas and enabling education for children from low-income families. The main aim is to fight corruption and ensure transparency and accountability in the Public Governance systems thereby empowering the marginalized sections to improve their life conditions. The goal of this organization is to spread awareness about Right to Information and empower common people to use this awareness and the RTI tool to ensure access to his/her rights and entitlements. Being a active member of Parivartan we took the initiative and started with addressing the difficulties faced by people in dealing with the electricity department and further handled the issues like ration card, sewage, roads, water supply and so on. This was an empowering process – right to information has redefined the relationship between the people and the government.
Advocacy Element
Sustenance of free ship quota. The free ship quota earlier was 25% which had been continuously reduced and now it has reached to as low as 10%. We propose that the respective authorities should review their decision again and if not much this free ship should be revived back to 20% atleast.
Implementation of guidelines of Education Department at the grass root level: the people from EWS are neither educated nor aware of the rights available to them being a citizen of India. Therefore there arises a need to spread awareness in the society for the benefit of such people at large. This shall enable them to seek implementation of the guidelines of the respective authorities in their favour e.g the mid day meal which is provided to the children in schools the parents do not know the quantity and the menu for the same. The menu is not displayed on the board.
Facilities which are being sanctioned by the Govt should be made available to the children e.g a process should be formed to reimburse for the books and uniform to parents by the school authorities.
Pardarshita shall try to create awareness amongst the common people regarding their rights, duties and obligations being the citizen of India
Pressure groups/Watch groups: Some autonomous bodies should be designated as pressure groups to ensure that all the policies of the policies of the govt are followed not only in the letter but also in the spirit.
Our orgnisation aims to provide the much-needed support to the people living in slums to invoke RTI to use this right to the fullest and establish an effective system of governance. Members of this organization have been engaged in the process for last few years and have been active members of the RTI movement not only in the city but also in the country. The overall objective of this project is to provide a space to the slum communities where they could access information and know-how to use the Right to Information tool.
This tool not only creates awareness amongst the common people but also make govt officials and the community accountable.
Proposed Activities

  • Awareness Camps

  • Help line Number

  • Networking and Advocacy with NGOs

  • Voluntary support by community people

  • Camps organized in different colonies

  • Campaign in collaboration with Delhi Government.

Capacity building activity will focus on developing the understanding of the Community and the NGOs active in the area on accessing information, analyzing the government documents and utilizing the information to assist the admissions/enrollment process. The Capacity building will also focus on the use of Right to Information, studying the information accessed and putting it to use in understanding government processes to complete paper work for school admissions. In 2005 when we started working on EWS clause we were able to admit around 45 children in different schools of northeast district. In next year i.e. 2006 around 150 children were admitted, and in current year more than 400 children were admitted in 4 districts.

Expected Results
• Awareness among the parents, children and the schools.

• Working towards realizing the goal ‘Education for All’.

• Creating a Network with NGOs to formulate a future plan of action and organize opinion to influence policy level intervention.

• It tries to abridge the wide gap that exists between the two sides of Indian society– the haves and the have-nots – the problem of heterogeneity is also taken care.

• We have acted as catalysts in the correction of the system. On one hand the Deputy Director Education, some school principals have become receptive and on the other, there is awareness of the presence of the clause. For AY 2008-09 more parents reached out to the workers on their own to get their children admitted using this clause.

• Myths, that the parents in the EWS do not want to send their children to school and that children from this section cannot perform, have been broken.

• The resistance of the private schools was highlighted.

• Lastly, we have been able to implement the concept of a welfare state as defined in the Constitution of India [8] - a supreme form of correction from the first principles of India.

• The community empowerment will fix up the role of community in improving the conditions prevailing in Education system.

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