NEW DELHI, India, 20 April 2010 ¬ As the world celebrates Global Action Week on Education from 20 to 26 April 2010, UNESCO, ILO and UNICEF in India welcome the global campaign which comes just as India enters an exciting phase with the historic notification of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act on 1 April 2010.
During this week, as the world takes action on education, India’s RTE Act can serve as an inspiration and model for other countries looking to provide free quality education. The UN agencies congratulate the Government of India in this major step forward and as part of on-going efforts to support RTE, they will join hands with national coalitions and other partners to initiate a nation-wide campaign.
This year’s Global Action Week focuses on ‘financing quality public education: a right for all’. The Campaign will urge political leaders, parliamentarians and policy makers to keep their promises on education by proactively addressing the barriers which stand in the way of children’s schooling. Unaffordable fees, inadequate GDP spends on education, lack of professional teachers for quality education and children engaged in child labour are critical issues which need to be dealt with.
This week of action will also serve as a springboard to raise challenges under the RTE act and encourage diverse stakeholders including decision makers, activists, community members, teachers, educators and their organizations, employers’ organizations, trade unions and children to participate and deliberate on how to make it a reality for India’s girls and boys.
In 2006-07 India spent an estimated 3.57% of GDP for education. Without increased investments, RTE will remain a distant dream for India’s estimated 8 million children who are out of school. To mark the global action week, children are planning a march to the doors of Parliamentarians to appeal for a provision of 6% of GDP as committed for education. In order to reach national goals, increased investments should be focused to:
• Mainstream 8 million out of school children into formal education with the necessary support to catch up and succeed,
• Train more than 1 million new teachers who have to be recruited within the next five years to improve learning outcomes for children,
• Eliminate disparities for marginalized populations, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and girls,
• Ensure child-friendly schools as per RTE provisions with separate toilets for boys and girls, hand-washing facilities, libraries and play spaces.
India is at an important stage in achieving universal access to elementary education, with significant progress over the last decade in getting 6- 14 years children into school, but the mandate under RTE is to eliminate disparities and guarantee equitable quality education for all children.
The implementation of the act faces real challenges such as securing adequate funds, building effective partnerships amongst stakeholders at the local level and persistent gaps in education access & achievement for disadvantaged children, including those involved in or at-risk of child labour. The current situation however, also provides a ripe platform to bring together the government, civil society, media UN communities and employers’ and workers’ organizations to join hands with creative and innovative solutions to make a difference to the lives of millions of children.
Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, in his address to the nation during the notification of the RTE Act has assured that ‘Our government, in partnership with the State governments will ensure that financial constraints do not hamper the implementation of the Right to Education Act’.
Right to Education is everybody’s business. Let us take this opportunity to express and demonstrate solidarity to reach out to each and every child in the country.
For media queries and more information:
Documentalist and Public Information, UNESCO
Communication and Public Information Officer, ILO
Tel: +91-11-24602101-02-03 Ext. 221
Communication Specialist, UNICEF