In spite of huge investment on education under central flagship programs such as District Primary Education Program (DPEP) and Sarva Shikhya Abhiyan (SSA), and after 6 years of implementation of the 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 the RTE Act at the end of 2013-2014. 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 rationalization of posting of teachers. As a result, some schools have more than required number of teachers while others have less than the required number. As per the Government of India survey, there are about 4 lakh out-of-school children in Odisha and most of them belong to marginal communities such as tribal, dalits and minorities.
The learning level of children in schools is also very disturbing. As per the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014, 8.8% children in Standard III are unable to read alphabets in Odia. Similarly, 21.1% children in Standard III can read alphabets but not more than that. Nearly 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 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 is based on 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 Odisha. Tribals have their own languages and culture which is different from regional language (State ). There are 6,118 schools in Odisha which have 100% ST enrollment (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, this has not happened so far largely due to 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 of 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 areas for discussion and deliberations under the theme of Education.
- ECCE – addressing issues of access and quality
- Primary Education vis-a-vis RTE Act: Retention, Quality & Equity
- Community Participation
- Grievance Redressal Mechanisms & Accountability
- Sharing of good practices and the opportunity to scale up