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More in education as fundamental right
Just received from Madhav. (posted a little while ago but this bounced for
Here is some more food for thought (and action). We have started
planning in Maharashtra, can happen in 5 other states. Yardsticks of
accountability and litigation are covered in this plan.
The following draft is being circulated to partners in the National
Alliance for the Fundamental Right to Education. At this time, this is a
part of Pratham thinking alone. Other states will respond and then we
Activating People for the
Realization of the Fundamental Right to Education :
(A Plan for the National Alliance)
Activation of People on Large Scale is needed :
The experience of Pratham, above all, underscores the need and the
possibility of involving large numbers of people from the underprivileged
sections in implementing large-scale schemes while also impacting
governmental functioning. The Bodh Shiksha Samiti of Jaipur has a
experience in a relatively backward urban area. In the rural settings,
MV Foundation has succeeded in bringing over 50,000 children into schools
while working with parents and employers of child labor in Andhra
They too have concluded that improving formal schooling and providing
support services outside school while working with parents is effective
dealing with the problem of child labor. Pratham and MV Foundation, are
clearly united on the view that effective, joyful learning in schools can
combat the problem of child labor and dropouts. The Eklavya organization
Madhya Pradesh has not concentrated on people+s mobilization but has
considerable experience in educational innovations and holds similar
All of the above grass-roots organizations are now very keen on working
together on a national scale, to take their experience to other parts of
country in order to promote similar initiatives including UP. Bihar, the
Funding agencies such as CRY, Aga Khan Foundation, National Foundation
India, and others too have been feeling the need to impact the system.
of us hoped that small projects could create models for the governmental
agencies to replicate. This has not happened partly due to apathy of the
system, partly due to non-replicable features of the models, and perhaps
because nobody really tried. Most of these agencies also feel that
scattered commitments do not lead to any impact-making work.
Lager agencies such as the European Union and the World Bank have been
funding the District Primary Education Project in nearly half of India+s
districts. The progress of these projects is said to be not so
mainly because of failure to activate/ nvolve people in implementing the
program. UNICEF has long held that system-wide changes are needed and is
very pleased with the rate of progress in many regions.
Within the government too there is a strong feeling that without
people/ parents, no major changes are likely.
The need for activation of people is acute and clear to all.
The National Alliance Can Provide Leadership :
At the National Conference on the Fundamental Right to Education
by Pratham in Delhi on April 24-25, three major political figures (Dr.
Manmohan Singh, Ms. Uma Bharati -State Minister for HRD, and Rajesh
while agreeing that education should be THE top priority of the nation,
stated that the lack of political will among the politicians was a
reflection of the lack of will among the people themselves. If people
the will, the politicians would follow. The same sentiment was echoed by
Padmanabhaiya, Ms. Kiran Bedi, and Justice Seth (Law Commission). Dr.
Manmohan Singh spent nearly three hours with the delegates and explained
money could be raised for education by adopting various measures
cutting wastage. Later, publicly and in private he agreed to help in
a forum of MP s of different parties in the Parliament to further the
of the Fundamental Right to Education.
At the end of the Conference, it was clear to all delegates present that
mobilization of people on a large-scale to assert the Fundamental Right
Education was essential.
On April 23, 1998 all of the above-mentioned organizations (except the
World Bank) gathered together and resolved to form themselves into a
National Alliance for the Children+s Fundamental Right to Education. The
founding partners, while agreeing to work bilaterally or multilaterally
projects, plans and schemes drawn-up in the Alliance, have suggested that
ICICI should coordinate and lead the effort. The Government of India,
Education Secretary and the Joint Secretary are appreciative of the
These developments put the National Alliance in a position of leadership
a national scale. They clearly want to lead from the front and are
to work with each other.
How to lead from the front?
A leader must provide a vision and a path that leads to the realization
that vision. In providing the macro vision, the leader should not get
down by micro-difficulties which must be sorted out. At the same time, a
macro-vision which is insensitive to the micro-issues can lead to
bureaucratic functioning doomed to fail in the long run.
In the current context, we must provide a vision of being able to achieve
goal of +every Indian child in school and learning by 2005+. If this
a bit too audacious, I must say that in 1994, for a small group to think
universalization of primary education in Mumbai by 2000 was equally
audacious, but we have progressed considerably. The temptation to do
"whatever little we can" is likely to be very strong. However, we should
overcome this temptation.
Some calculations :
The Pratham calculation of operating with about 1% of the education
of the Municipal Corporation to catalyze the whole system was thought of
even before actual programs were worked out. A similar exercise can be
carried out to project a ball-park figure of expenditure. Nationally, it
estimated that an annual expenditure of Rs. 8,000 crores would be needed
provide education for every Indian child. This means that the catalytic
figure would be around Rs. 80-100 crore or so annually, at the peak of
program after about 3 years.
This entire sum cannot come from industry and donors alone.
agencies and the government can perhaps pick up 2/3 of the cost or more.
There can be other ways of raising funds.
The funding arrangements need not be centralized. In fact fund-raising
utilization can both be decentralized through bilateral or multi-lateral
arrangements brought about by a facilitating body such as the National
A Simple Vision :
Solution of the most complex problem often comes with a simplification of
the problem. How to ensure that every child goes to school and learns?
If every village Panchayat and every urban community were to be activated
implementing the Fundamental Right it would be implemented. Afterall,
Amendment or not, the Supreme Court has ruled that education is a
fundamental right of every child up to the age of 14.
In the 1930's Gandhiji picked up a fistful of salt and so did the nation.
new challenge was. The action was preceded by wide dissemination of broad
information about the injustice heaped by the salt tax. Each one could
up some salt. This was followed by the non-cooperation movement. The
Government was challenged.
Obviously running schools and getting children is not the same as picking
salt. But there is an anti-parallel (!).
The Fundamental Right exists. Villagers or slum-communities can get
and decide to implement it. Their optimum resource needs have to be met
the Government. If these are not being met, the Alliance can talk to the
Government- one village micro-plan at a time.. first in scores, then in
hundreds, and by the end of 2000 in the thousands. If the government
meet the demand, we can supply some grants to start with but let people
raise the issue in the Supreme Court. This democratic articulation can be
facilitated by the Alliance.
This is an "advocacy" of a different kind. It does not rely on
It looks at every micro-reality against the backdrop of the Supreme Court
judgement. It encourages people to find solutions while supplying some
skills, know-how and catalytic finances... for a large number of
The question is, can villages actually resolve to implement the Right?
they? Can they implement? The experiences of MV Foundation and Pratham
indicate that this is possible. The processes may differ. It may or may
involve every person in a community, at least not in the beginning. But
a period, when people see changes occurring, the movement will send loud
To the question, "can this actually happen?", my reply is, tell me some
other way that we can make large numbers of people actually get down to
changing the reality. If there is another way, let us consider it.
I would call this the movement of cooperation. Helping the administration
implement what is fundamentally guarenteed ... It is a movement because
"unwanted" cooperation can be perhaps more threatening to those in
(and inert), than the non-cooperation movement in India today.
A Plan to Start Work : (this can be summarised and modified, expanded
It is possible to implement the following short-term test plan almost
Objective : Have at least 1000 villages resolve and being to implement
"every child in school and learning" by November 14, 1998.
o Disseminate information about the right to education, education
etc. Discuss various issues related to education in the village and
encourage villagers to come up with solutions.
o Prepare micro-plan for ensuring education for every child with the help
o Have the village call a "gram-sabha" and pass the micro-plan.
o Operationalize the micro-plan with some financial assistance while also
approaching the Government with legitimate expectations.
o Send each village micro-plan to CEO of the District and begin
the micro-plan. In case reasonable financial expectations cannot be met,
file a petition on behalf of the villagers against the government for
violation of the fundamental right of the child.
o If financial and other needs of the micro-plan are met, proceed with
Work with groups of about 10 villages, 100 such groups mobilized by 100
young people draen from the Alliance partners and other NGOs.
Project Area :
5 DPEP (World Bank Support/ EU Support) Districts, and 5 non-DPEP
spread in 5 or 10 states. 100 villages in one block (roughly the whole
block/ or taluka) in one district.
Pick one block and one town/city each in Andhra, Maharashtra, UP, Bihar,
Tamilnad, and one state in the North-east. State coordinators of the
Alliance could take a lead and develop their own model. Cost in each
could be borne by one or two funding agencies.
Direct Costs : (6 month period- August 15- Jan 26) :
For a group of 10 villages :
Honorarium for activist (max) Rs. 3000 x 6 mo. Rs. 18,000
Traveling, postage, phone(STD) Rs. 1000 x 6 mo. Rs. 6,000
*Village assistant one per village Rs. 500 x 6 mo. x 10 Rs. 30,000
**Provisional grant to start
implementation of micro-plan Rs. 10,000 per village Rs. 1,00,000
Training and other overheads Rs. 10,000 Rs. 10,000
(group of ten villages)
Total Rs. 16,400 per village Rs. 1,64,000
For 100 groups of 10 villages each Rs. 1.64 cr.
for 6 months for 1000 villages
* The village assistant may be an educated youth who will help in
an activity and also in organizing the villagers.
** The provisional grant is purely so that some immediate needs can be
and people are encouraged to move forward. Also, this can be tied to a
fund or in-kind contribution by villages.
It may be noted here that except for the expenditure on an activists+
expenses, the rest of the funds will be directly useful to the people/
children of the village.
Possible Contributing agencies :
1. ICICI/ Pratham
2. National Foundation for India
4. Aga Khan Foundation