The status of elementary education in western Odisha 

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 By Ghasiram Panda

 

Elementary education is the foundation for development of any individual. To strengthen the elementary education system and make it qualitative, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 was enacted. This recognizes elementary education as a fundamental right of children between 6 to 14 years   under Article 21 A of the Indian constitution. It was expected that the enactment of this law will bring another window of opportunity for a drastic reforms of the elementary education system. However the state of affairs is still very poor and raising questions on the readiness of the state to implement the Act. This is an attempt to reflect upon few dimensions of the present status of the elementary education in the above mentioned districts. Secondary data and information available in government sources have been used and analyzed for this purpose. However the information available is not of very recent. Hence there might have some progress in compare to the data mentioned.

 

Schools in neighborhood:

The number primary, upper primary and secondary schools available in the districts of Bargarh, Bolangir, Boudh,  Jharsuguda, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Sambalpur, Subarnapur and  Sundargarh are as mentioned in the table below:

SL DISTRICT PRIMARY
DEPT. OF EDN SSD LOCAL BODY AIDED PVT UNAIDED OTHERS CENTRAL GOVT UNRECOGNISED TOTAL
1 BARGARH 934 47 0 2 3 0 0 36 1022
2 BOLANGIR 1294 5 0 0 20 0 0 3 1322
3 BOUDH 510 6 0 0 10 0 0 9 535
4 JHARSUGUDA 392 7 0 2 6 0 0 16 423
5 KALAHANDI 1604 1 0 0 7 0 0 17 1629
6 NUAPADA 576 8 0 0 2 2 0 6 594
7 SAMBALPUR 869 23 0 12 19 1 0 5 929
8 SONEPUR 585 3 0 0 11 0 0 15 614
9 SUNDERGARH 1536 59 0 142 51 0 0 36 1824

 

SL DISTRICT UPPER PRIMARY
DEPT. OF EDN SSD LOCAL BODY AIDED PVT UNAIDED OTHERS CENTRAL GOVT UNRECOGNISED TOTAL
3 BARGARH 636 35 0 50 29 2 0 26 778
5 BOLANGIR 871 23 0 14 52 3 0 6 969
6 BOUDH 283 5 0 1 11 0 0 1 301
14 JHARSUGUDA 249 26 0 18 11 0 2 19 325
15 KALAHANDI 667 24 0 27 54 0 0 30 802
25 NUAPADA 393 34 0 23 19 1 0 12 482
28 SAMBALPUR 455 19 0 24 44 0 0 20 562
29 SONEPUR 326 7 0 21 13 0 0 11 378
30 SUNDERGARH 776 30 0 42 61 2 2 35 948

 

SL DISTRICT SECONDARY TOTAL SCHOOLS
DEPT. OF EDN SSD LOCAL BODY AIDED PVT UNAIDED OTHERS CENTRAL GOVT UNRECOGNISED TOTAL
3 BARGARH 148 4 0 115 69 0 2 4 342 2142
5 BOLANGIR 171 7 0 133 45 0 3 3 362 2653
6 BOUDH 41 3 0 26 7 0 2 0 79 915
14 JHARSUGUDA 63 3 0 35 27 0 2 9 139 887
15 KALAHANDI 169 17 0 106 35 1 2 7 337 2768
25 NUAPADA 57 5 0 61 18 0 4 5 150 1226
28 SAMBALPUR 110 10 0 65 37 1 2 10 235 1726
29 SONEPUR 62 1 0 51 19 0 2 5 140 1132
30 SUNDERGARH 202 35 0 99 104 0 7 13 460 3232

 

(Source: http://opepa.odisha.gov.in/website/Achievement.aspx)

The above tables show that the education is still mostly dependent upon the government schools. However there is an increase presence of private schools in upper primary and secondary level. Also the tables reflect that a good number of unrecognized schools are functioning in every district within the knowledge of administration!

The Section 6 of the RTE Act says that the appropriate government shall establish, within such areas or limits of neighborhood, as may be prescribed, a school, where it is not so established, within a period of three years from the commencement of this Act.   The Odisha State rules have defined that:

  1. In respect of the children in class I – V, a school shall be established within a walking distance of one kilometer of the neighborhood
  2. In respect of the children in class VI – VIII, a school shall be established within a walking distance of three kilometers of the neighborhood

For the purpose of determining and for establishing neighborhood schools the government is mapping school every year.

The below table is the Habitation/School Mapping carried out in the year 2015:

Primary
State – Odisha

Sl.No. Name of Block/Municipal Area Total Habitations Habitations Covered by Primary School * Habitations without Primary School (not eligible for opening of PS) Habitations eligible for PS *
3 BARGARH 2541 2507 34
5 BOLANGIR 2442 2396 46
6 BOUDH 1273 1123 150
25 NUAPARA 2340 2235 105
28 SAMBALPUR 2278 2138 140
29 SUBARNPUR 1199 1152 47
30 SUNDARGARH 6877 6810 67

 

Upper Primary

S. No. Name of Block/
Municipal Area
Total No. of Habitations Habitations Covered by Upper Primary School* Habitations without Upper Primary Schools (not eligible for opening of UPS) Habitations eligible for UPS*
3 BARGARH 2541 2522 19
5 BOLANGIR 2442 2404 38
6 BOUDH 1273 1193 80
14 JHARSUGUDA 1002 995 7
15 KALAHANDI 3847 3739 108
25 NUAPARA 2340 2290 50
28 SAMBALPUR 2278 2217 61
29 SUBARN PUR 1199 1155 44
30 SUNDARGARH 6877 6792 85

 

The tables reflect that none of the districts are left with place eligible for establishing new schools. However every district is having habitations not eligible for opening of new primary and upper primary schools. Districts like Boudh, Nuapada, Sambalpur and Kalahandi are having more than hundred habitations not having a school. We can expect that the children in between 6 to 14 years must have been enrolled in the nearby schools. In case it is more than the distance fixed then they are entitled for an escort and transport allowance of INR 3000 each per annum.

School closure:

School having 15 or less than 15 enrolments:

Sl.No Dist Primary Upper Primary Total
3 Bargarh 85 1 86
5 Bolangir 70 2 72
6 Boudh 40 1 41
14 Jharsuguda 39 1 40
15 Kalahandi 64 1 65
25 Nuapada 51 1 52
28 Sambalpur 89 0 89
29 Sonepur 59 2 61
30 Sundargarh 129 7 136

 

These above mentioned schools were closed in two different phases. In the first phase the School & Mass Education Department Vide letter No. 3548, dt 21.02.2015 issued orders for closure of schools having five or less than five enrolment. In the second phase in the year 2016 schools having 10 or less than 10 enrolment were closed.  In a recent development in the year 2017 vide letter No 4924 (30) dated 22.06.17 the State Project Director, OPEPA has initiated the process of closure of schools having 15 or less than 15 enrolment. The government has the plan of closure / merger of schools having 25 or less than 25 enrolments which will affect more than 12500 schools.

Transport and Escort:

The children of difficult circumstances facing danger to attend the school have been provided the Transport and Escort facilities during 2015-16 as per following

  • The Unit Cost @ Rs.3,000/- per child per annum.
  • The district-wise provision of Transport and Escort facilities as follows.

 

Sl No Name of the district No. of children approved  for allowance
3 BOLANGIR 14
7 JHARSUGUDA 428
8 KALAHANDI 11
18 NUAPADA 4
20 SAMBALPUR 40
21 SONEPUR 52
22 SUNDERGARH 47

 

In a situation where schools are being closed and districts are having hundreds of habitations without schools the numbers of students approved for allowance are very minimal.

Fulfilling norms and standards:

An all weather building consisting of at least one class room for every teacher and one office cum store cum head teacher room, barrier free access, separate toilet for boys and girls, safe and adequate drinking water facility, kitchen, playground and boundary wall or fencing is one of the minimum standards fixed as per the Right to Education Act. The table below reflects the status:

State level Report on School Infrastructure

Sl. No. Disrtict Name Govt. School No Toilet No Drinking Water No Electricity No Play Ground No Ramp No Kitchen Shed No Building Boundary Wall
Common Girls Yes No Incomplete
3 BARAGARH 1809 410 337 0 1359 1337 815 1137 14 764 276 768
5 BOLANGIR 2369 460 316 0 2005 2034 1172 1303 90 921 834 604
6 BOUDH 851 293 534 0 718 695 411 454 38 507 306 36
14 JHARSUGUDA 740 210 244 0 513 560 116 530 7 451 150 139
15 KALAHANDI 2468 1427 1436 0 2127 2141 1168 1617 232 795 1159 492
25 NUAPADA 1063 275 734 0 913 902 146 0 25 366 484 211
28 SAMBALPUR 1481 326 182 0 1156 1096 138 971 19 780 246 455
29 SONEPUR 985 320 144 0 754 849 490 708 13 411 332 241
30 SUNDERGARH 2630 409 1644 0 2099 2101 893 1570 129 1146 948 534

 

(source: http://opepa.odisha.gov.in/SchoolReports/SchoolInfrastructureReports.aspx)

School having single teacher ( 2015 -16):

 

SL NO Disrtict Name One Teachers
3 BARAGARH 44
5 BOLANGIR 206
6 BOUDH 10
14 JHARSUGUDA 7
15 KALAHANDI 155
25 NUAPADA 12
28 SAMBALPUR 73
29 SONEPUR 73
30 SUNDERGARH 272

 

(Source: http://opepa.odisha.gov.in/EPIS/TeacherAvailabilityReports.aspx)

 

Having a single teacher in school is a gross violation of the norms and standard fixed under RTE. The above table reflects that still single teacher schools are there in each and every district. The highest schools with single teacher are in Sundargarh followed by Balangir and Kalahandi.

Regulating private educational Institutions:

 

SL DISTRICT Primary Upper Primary Total
1 BARGARH 3 29 32
2 BOLANGIR 20 52 72
3 BOUDH 10 11 21
4 JHARSUGUDA 6 11 17
5 KALAHANDI 7 54 61
6 NUAPADA 2 19 21
7 SAMBALPUR 19 44 63
8 SONEPUR 11 13 24
9 SUNDERGARH 51 61 112

 

Responding to a questions in the Odisha State Assembly the then Minister of school and mass education shared that in 2009 – 10 students admitted in private primary schools were 549161 where as in the year 2015 – 16 this has reached to 992117. This is a hike 14.31 %. Accordingly the numbers of private managed schools have been increased in each and every district. The number mentioned in the above table is reflecting a very small portion of the presence of private managed school. In real, the department doesn’t have updated information on the presence of private managed educational institutions despite having a strong regulating mechanism in build within RTE Act. Running of privately managed educational institutions without having a certificate of recognition (CoR) from the competent authority is a violation of Section 18 of the Act.  Schools having CoR should have been displayed in the OPEPA web site. As on today not a single name is displayed as none of the privately managed school is having the CoR.

Discrimination free schooling:

Section 8 (C) and 9 (C ) of the RTE Act Sec 9 (c) of the Right to Education Act says ‘Every local authority shall ensure that the child belonging to weaker section and the child belonging to disadvantaged group are not discriminated against and prevented from pursuing and completing elementary education on any ground’. The then Commissioner cum Secretary Smt Usha Padhee, IAS also issued two different orders i.e no 10400/ OPEPA/ M(CNPUS) – 290, dated 27.11.2014 to declare the school premises as ‘Discrimination Free Zone’ and no 10401/ OPEPA/ M(CNPUS) – 290, dated 27.11.2014 to remove the cast tagged in school’s name. After almost one and half year an information using RTI on 4th June, 2016 reveled that neither the School and Mass Education Department nor OPEPA have any database on this.

Key Suggestions:

  1. Strengthening community and student participation on effective schooling by strengthening school management committee, school cabinet and proper implementation of school development plan
  2. Effective implementation of the following orders and circulars:
  3. Order of Odisha State Commission for Protection of Child Rights No 1683/ OSCPCR – 593/15 dated 24.06.2016 on closure of schools emphasizing impact assessment of each school before closure / merger
  4. Order of Odisha State Commission for Protection of Child Rights No1461/17/1303/OSCPCR, dated20.7.2017 on implementation of discrimination free schooling provision within a fixed timeframe.
  5. Notification 30.12.14 on guideline to check absenteeism emphasizing monitoring of students in a specific interval of time by authorities and develop a data base of drop out students in a monthly basis at district level.
  6. No 9317 dated 19. 9 16 guideline for 25% admission of socially and economically weaker sections of the society in private school
  7. Regulating the private educational institutions by ensuring Certificate of Recognition.

Contact Author: 

Mob: 9438341794

[email protected]

 

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