The Gujarat-model of education seems has been criticised by none other than the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), after the country’s top audit watch dog found glaring lacunae in the way elementary schools were being run in the state. CAG found schools in Gujarat functioning under trees and temporary shelters.
CAG found that even after four years from the date of enactment of The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 or the RTE Act, many of the schools in Gujarat had not been provided with buildings, adequate teachers and basic amenities like drinking water. These facilities were to be provided to all schools by August 2012, observed CAG in a report on Local Bodies that was tabled in the Gujarat legislative Assembly on Tuesday.
In Gujarat there are 31,545 elementary school managed by Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) as on March 31, 2013. These consisted of 10,188 primary schools with stand I-V and 21,357 upper primary schools with standard I-VIII.
CAG checked 10 districts that had 14,797 elementary schools between 2008-13 and found that 48 schools did not have their own buildings and 56 schools were in dilapidated condition, in need of repairs. That’s not all. 14 more schools did not have their own buildings.
During the field visits undertaken in Junagadh district, the auditor found a primary school in Dodhi Nes (shown in records as functioning in its own school building) to be operating from a temporary shelter. Another school in Hadala Nes in the same district to be functioning under a tree. CAG has printed the pictures of both these schools in the report which stated that the RTE Act necessitates schools to have an all-weather building.
The RTE Act also provides that a school should have at least one class-room for every teacher with the provision that there would be at least two class rooms in primary schools and three class rooms in Upper Primary Schools. “Audit observed that though sufficient funds were available, due to lack of planning 10 percent (or 3146 schools) of the 31,545 elementary schools were functioning without adequate class-rooms (July 2013),” the report stated. The percentage of inadequacy of class-rooms in Gujarat ranged from one percent (Surat district) to as high as 53 percent in Jamnagar district.
Out of the 300 schools visited by CAG, the pupil-class room ratio (PCRR) in 38 schools was above the norm of 40:1 provided under the RTE Act. An eye-brow raising PCRR of 108:1 was observed in Shamalpur primary school in Bhiloda taluka of Sabarkantha district. “The strength of these classes were more than that envisaged under RTE Act, which adversely affected the quality of education,” CAG observed.
CAG also noticed that safe and adequate drinking water facility was not ensured for students in 175 (58 percent) of the 300 schools visited. Moreover, 82 percent of these schools did not have disabled friendly toilets, while in nine percent of them there were no separate toilets for girls and boys, an issues that have been raised a countless times at public forums by both Gujarat chief minister Anandi Patel and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Apart from these, the auditor also noticed that schools in Gujarat were cooking mid-day meals in the open; schools without playgrounds, library and benches and desk for students. “This indicates that even after four years from the date of enactment of RTE Act, compliance with the norms and standards prescribed in the Act was not ensured, which led to denial of basic facilities guaranteed under the Act to the children of a large number of schools in the state,” observed CAG.