ANJUNA: The occurrence of school dropouts, always a problem in the northern coastal belt of the state with the tourist season approaching, has acquired a new dimension with the no-detention policy being implemented under the Right to Education Act (RTE) from 2011.
0px; ">Working in the tourism sector instead of attending school was always a temptation in these parts but the problem has exploded into a major crisis now, with the only punitive measure in the form of detention not an option.
Schools are at their wits' end about what to do and many have thrown in the towel because students just aren't paying attention anymore to classes as they know they will be promoted come what may.
“"The fact is, as politically incorrect as it may sound, that it used to be bad enough earlier but at least fear of family approbation and/or peer ridicule if someone failed, did act as a deterrent. Now, since students are automatically promoted to the next class, they routinely bunk school, especially when the tourist season is on, to make a fast buck on the beaches and their surroundings," a long-suffering teacher told Herald.
Come this season, schools are expecting the worst. With students likely to be employed at shacks, the flea market or working petty jobs on the beach instead of in the classroom, and with nothing to prevent them from moving to the next grade.
Headmasters of numerous schools located in these areas rue that the no-detention policy has come as a major setback for them, as students are promoted to another class, while teachers grope in the dark about how to teach these students who disappear in the hubbub of tourism. Low attendance and poor results has become the order of the day in these schools.
“Whom should we approach? Parents don’t show any interest as the students are busy helping them to make more money. The attendance is okay during the off-season but when tourists descend here, it drops significantly,” Savio Fernandes Sales, principal of Don Bosco High School, Naikawado-Calangute told Herald. Oft-repeated complaints to parents fetch no results, he said.
Anjuna flea market, Saturday night markets, Arpora market, beach shacks, restaurants are major attractions for students looking to make quick money. There have been some cases of students being “escorts/companions” to tourists and being paid handsomely. Now with no fear of poor attendance and subsequent detention they can pursue this line without apprehension of losing out on school. The temptation of easy money has attracted students towards drug trafficking too and police station records are indicative of this trend.
Dropouts who can't be detained are especially prominent among the migrant population, said a senior teacher.
“The parents are in the tourism businesses along the beaches. Tourist season is a boom time for them. They get help from their children to increase monthly earnings,” said Vaijanty Pokle, principal of Mark Fernandes Memorial High School at Calangute.
“The problem is not about migrants or locals but the fact that they all know they can get away ~ and promoted ~ despite playing hooky,” Sister Philomena Pereira, principal of Little Flower Jesus High School, Candolim said.
What’s striking is that the problem of school dropouts is not limited to poor families; students from affluent families too are chasing a quick buck at the cost of education. And because they can't be detained, even their families tend to be less strict. “Families into business ~ rent-a-bike, shacks, restaurants, bars, et al ~ know that even if their children don’t study, the family business will keep them financially well off and in the meanwhile they get promoted to the next grade too,” said Sales.
Politicians representing this constituency have often brought up this crucial issue in the state legislative assembly. Former Calangute legislator Agnelo Fernandes, said several attempts to explain the consequences to parents have failed.
The current legislator Michael Lobo said non-governmental organisations should play a major role to educate parents and teachers in the wake of the no-detention policy having aggravated the problem.
A 12-year-old student from a Candolim high school who adds to his family income by working at a stall selling local and Kashmiri handicrafts to the tourists. “I am earning money at this stage itself. In the tourist season, I earn three times more than what I earn in the off-season. My parents and my income give us a comfortable living and I won’t be kept back in the same class, even if I do badly,” he said with an air of enlightenment.
That's a rather telling statement from a 12-year-old.
RTE to cover pre-school kids too?
NEW DELHI: The Human Resources Development Ministry plans to enforce the Right to Education (RTE) Act also to pre-school education by reducing the lower age from six to five years.
It has sought over Rs 65,000 crore from the Planning Commission during the 12th Plan to implement the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) recommendation to extend the RTE Act to pre-school education. The proposal will mandate that every government and funded school run pre-primary (nursery and kindergarten) sections and comply with stringent norms such as one teacher and one classroom for every 25 kids.
Ministry sources say the government is also in the process of bringing uniformity in the education system by encouraging all states to fix the age of entry to Class I at six years, after noting that schools in at least 23 states admit children to Class I at the age of five. They will be encouraged to take the five-year-old kids in pre-school, they said.
The ministry has also proposed that the Planning Commission assume greater share of the financial burden in implementation of the Act in a dozen states, noting some states face difficulty in pitching their required share of 35 per cent.
The proposal envisages extension of the Centre-State share of 90:10 in the total expenditure in effecting RTE to Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh that is already available to the north-east states on the ground of their “difficult geographical terrain.”
Nine other states where the ministry has offered to increase the Centre's share from 65 per cent to 75 per cent on the ground of low level of literacy are: Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
"Apart from low literacy, these states are also low in human development index ranking and other social and health indicators," says a HRD Ministry report justifying increase central share in the scheme, hoping that the state governments will be encouraged to implement the RTE Act effectively with the decrease in a large portion of their financial burden.