On April 12 2012, the Supreme Court in the Society for Unaided Private Schools of Rajasthan v Union of India upheld the Constitutional validity of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. Several private schools had challenged the Constitutionality of the Act.
Right now all the talk is about how the government will implement the RTE. Actions that seek to improve the quality of education in India’s government schools will directly benefit a majority of our children. Much needs to be done. I have merely presented one immediate actionable item within the government’s control — rationalise the distribution of teachers as a way of addressing the teacher-pupil ratio problem. Demonstrating something as doable as this is critical, because for most of our children, government schools are still their only hope.
A belief that somehow the ills of our schooling can be fixed by changing policy is widespread. Some policies can certainly be improved, but for the most part, the issue is in the implementation of the education policies. And like all implementation, the devil is in the details, which by its very nature is so diffuse that no silver bullet can fix it.
It’s obvious that no child will learn values by having a subject called values education. Values are shaped through slow, complex social processes that an individual lives through, not by being “taught” in a classroom. The social processes and relationships in the school are the key determinants of fostering and shaping values. Thoughtful curriculum, including books, which deeply integrates these values and their implied sensibility in a non-didactic manner have a supportive role.