For the Education gurus in India, 2011 was in every sense a testing period. First, with the Right To Education Act coming into force in mid-2010, the entire system was gearing up for a major shake up. Then the gigantic machinery of the education bureaucracy was churning out a million administrative details on how to deal with the changes that this ‘shake up’ was expected to bring in its trail.
So all through the year, there were hectic parleys in the government departments. The corridors of power resounded with experts, officials and consultants rushing about, attending meetings, consultations, workshops, and yes, more meetings.
And why not? After all, this shake up is indeed the grand father of all shake ups so far seen in the education sector. That the juggernaut of Indian democracy could only move haltingly if not fuelled by ‘universal elementary education’ was always universally known. But to make it a legal obligation of the government to ensure that everyone got it – compulsorily, and for free – was a huge step forward. That even justifies this furious bout of policy-making.
I just hope that all this does not drown the most interesting point the RTE makes. That the children and the communities they live in must mould and shape the school environment. That it is they who must be trained to drive the fresh, new school development plan.
Then where have they been in 2011? Why were they nowhere to be seen while the RTE roadmap was being plotted? Would they be around in the final lap of decision making? Only 2012 can tell.