PATNA, Bihar, India - 31 March 2014 - Rampal Sharma firmly believes that the future of the world will be only bright when every child in this world is educated, and he calls on India's citizens to remove the hurdles that children face on their way to a successful future.
Meet the veteran educationist and teacher who has served for 44 long years with the Education Department in the western Indian state of Rajasthan to ensure all children in the state are educated.
A father of two, Mr. Sharma has been largely instrumental in the inception and implementation of the Right to Free Compulsory Education Act, which entails a 25 per cent quota of reservation for students from the weaker and disadvantaged sections of society in private schools in Rajasthan. With his team at the Education Department, he has built a web based system to effectively monitor the implementation of that quota.
"After constant feedback, we have been able to plug most of the loopholes thanks to the National Informatics Centre. The online application is useful for a parent too in case the school refuses to give application forms." Mr. Sharma has also liaised between several groups and successfully trained office staff at state, block and district levels so that they are able to handle their respective domains by verifying the information fed by the schools.
Recalling the initial phase in the implementation of the RTE Act in Rajasthan, he says, "We actually sat, demarcated benchmarks and involved people from civil society who had experience in the field of education. We had meetings for about 10 months and then submitted reports to the Government and stressed on state specifics to influence state rules."
His experience working on the ground also helped in streamlining the act to reflect the state realities. "An Act is not enough, it is important to understand grass root levels and imbibe the particularities in national level and state level policies if they are to make a difference in people's lives," adds Mr. Sharma who now doubles up as a consultant with the Rajasthan Council of Elementary Education and Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and also collaborates with UNICEF.
"It is very different to operate in the tribal belt as their customs and way of life are very different from ours. Plus, in mountainous areas the topography is different and so the way education is viewed differs," Sharma adds, drawing from years of working in the state.
Join UNICEF in congratulating educationists like Rampal Sharma who are helping translate the dream of RTE into reality.
Picture - Syed Altaf Ahmad