Inspite of huge investment on education under central flagship programmes such as DPEP and SSA, and after 6 years of implementation of RTE Act 2009, the state of public education in Odisha is in deplorable condition. Only 3% of schools in Odisha were able to fully comply with RTE Act at the end of 2013-2014 financial year. Malkanagiri, Nabarangapur, Nuapada and Rayagada are the four districts with less than 1% schools fully complying with the Act (as per School Report Card, DISE-2013-14). There are single teacher schools in Odisha which violates the RTE Act 2009. There is no proper rationalisation of posting of teachers. As a result some schools are having more than required number of teachers and some schools are having less than required number of teachers. As per the Government of India survey, there are about 4 lakh out of school children in Odisha and most of them belong to the marginal communities such as tribal, dalits and minorities.
The learning level of children in schools is also very disturbing. As per ASER 8.8% children in Standard III cannot read letters in Odia. Similarly 21.1% children in standard III can read letters but not more than that. 22.5% can read words but not standard level or higher texts. About 13.4% children in standard III can read standard I level text but not able to read their standard level text and only 33.4% can read standard II level text. About 8.6% children in standard III cannot even recognize numbers from 1 to 9 and 28.9% children can recognize number of up to 9 but not more than that. Only 35.2% children cannot do subtraction, 21.3% cannot do division and only 6.9% children in standard II can do division (Source: ASER 2014).
There is no policy for teachers transfer in Odisha. Most of the teachers transfer happens in view of the political consideration. As a result there is rampant corruption in case of teachers transfer. This affects in ensuring quality education in the State. Tribal constitutes 23% of the total population of the state. Tribals have their own languages and culture which is different from regional language (State ).There are 6118 schools in Odisha which have 100% ST enrolment (DISE-2013-14). But there is no policy for recruitment of teachers from tribal communities. Government of Odisha has a Multi-lingual Education Policy, as per which government has to recruit teachers from tribal community and implement this policy in phases. However, there is lack of political will to implement the same.
The Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-2017) has redefined ICDS with additional and trained human resources to strengthen Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE). It has envisaged joyful early learning approaches for children 3-6 years of age including school readiness interventions for children of 5 year plus age. Though Odisha Government has taken few steps in this regard, the situation of pre-school education is still not up to the mark for enabling a smooth transition process.
In this backdrop, the Odisha Development Conclave-2016 would focus on the following key issues for discussion under the theme of education.
- ECCE-the challenges & prospects
- Primary Education vis-a-vis RTE Act: retention, quality & equity
- Grievance redressal mechanisms & accountability