Elementary Education is now a fundamental right in India. Since the implementation of Right to Eduducation Act (2009) in April 2010, various measures are said to be taken by the central and state governments to ensure this right to all children. Although there is no denial that without universal elementary education a society can never achieve the basic goals of development and civic life. The Supreme Court of India in Unnikrishnan vs state of Andhra Pradesh has observed that the primary education is the inherent part of  ’Right to Life’ as ‘Right to Life’ means ‘ Right to Life with dignity’ and one can never have dignified life without  having primary education. In fact all developed countries and many developing countries have achieved the cherished goal of universal school education.

It is strange that we have accorded ‘Elementary Education’ status of fundamental right and school education is universally accepted as basic ingredient for development  of any society but most of the  government run schools in our country have been rejected by all those who have money to send their children in private schools. Nobody except those who cannot afford private schooling send their children to government schools. According to a recent survey reported in ‘The Private School Revolution in Bihar’, number of unrecognized private schools in Patna has surpassed the large number of government schools although number of recognized schools in Bihar is still quite lower in comparison to other Indian states. But the trend reversal clearly indicates that even the poor people with some consciousness manage to send their children to low cost unrecognized private schools knowing fully well that those schools have no legal power to issue transfer or passing certificates. All these children are simultaneously enrolled in government run free schools for dress, bicycles, books and other benefits and incentives given by the state government.

The importance of school education and responsibility to ensure quality education to all children without exception cannot be denied by any  minister, politician, bureaucrat, and other members of dominant class of our society. The minister and  bureaucrats of the Department of Education in particular  and all public representatives in general are directly or indirectly responsible for taking decisions and managing the affairs related to our school education but it must be noted down that these people have no faith in the system managed by them and have full faith in the private school system which is not managed by them . Hence they all send their children in reputed private schools.

One thing is also noticeable that it is a well thought out and systematic effort to convert the government run school from  the teaching-learning  centre into the centre for miscellaneous and contingent functions of local bureaucracy. In fact the Indian bureaucracy  has acquired the status of ‘ruler’ who passes orders only  and has miserably failed in establishing rapport with the common people. Teachers are the easy victims of their  failures. It is the teachers who were forced to do so called essential work like running Pulse Polio Abhiyan, conduct census, election and other surveys, supervise mid-day meal, share responsibility of the construction of school building etc.  which should done by bureaucrats with the help of respective departments  or they must find mechanism to accomplish such tasks without involving teachers. The excessive involvement of local bureaucracy in teaching learning process has demotivated teachers. For example in Bihar these teachers are required to fill-up a large number of forms related to children’s concept attainment and achievement and submit them to BEEOs. I am dead sure that  all these papers are getting dust in BEEOs’ offices and I am also of the opinion that these BEEOs have no or poor understanding of the concepts and achievements and overall purposes of the forms submitted to them. The only important issue for them is whether a teacher submitted those forms or not. We must get our teachers out of bureaucratic repression which has primarily led to the collapse of our school education system. They can only realize the prevailing environment least suitable for teaching-learning in these schools, if it is made compulsory for them and all other government employees to send their children in government run schools only. This will also be the panacea for dying schools. I know there may be many issues related to fundamental and other rights of these people as citizens but all rules must be suitably amended if we wish to revive our public schooling system.

You must have heard lot of hue and cry about many private schools not admitting poor children as per provisions of RTE act 2009. But we never heard hue and cry for ensuring all our schools required physical and human resources and making them quality prone and attractive for our children within three years of the implementation of the RTE act. When poor children join a private school they get labelled and the environment existing there may not be suitable for personality development and learning. There is a chance to damage the personality of these poor children studying in good private schools where children of effluent class study by paying hefty fees due to their identification as RTE children. The welfare state must open required number of schools and  equip them with all physical facilities and provide required number of teachers on priority basis. School teachers must be paid handsome salary  as nothing is more important than school education. It is highly unethical to pay lowest salary to the teachers who discharge the most important duty. If state exchequer has not sufficient resources, the expenditure incurred on all other sectors except defense must be reduced. Heaven will not fall upon if this is done in case of financial crunch but the nation is bound to loose its sheen if transactors of the fundamental right of our children are devoid of their dignified life and status. In India there are 20 crores school going children. Bihar alone has nearly 2 crores such children. It is obvious that we need huge number of teachers and education  being most important subject the state will have to spend huge amount on it. There is no short cut to it. State will have to save and  generate  money to achieve the most important goal of the nation. At the same time the state must define new protocols where teachers must get privileged status in the society and bureaucracy must be made responsible to protect their privileged status.

In Bihar school teachers are on strike for getting scale. It must be noted that Bihar is the only state in India where post of teachers who get full scale  is abolished aonce they retire from service. Nearly 80 thousand teachers getting full scale (old teachers) and nearly 3.5 lakh contract teachers are working in Bihar. All contract teachers working in primary, middle and high schools get a low consolidated salary of rupees 1100-1300. Their contract period is not specified and the government has clarified several times that they will continue till they complete 60 years of age. It means that bonded labourers have been appointed by the state government.  The state government is spending huge amount on the capacity building of these teachers. In fact all capacity building exercises like inservice trainings are running in name only and huge amount of money is spent on these futile exercises. There is possibility to misutilize World Bank’s loan of around 2200 crores for  reshaping and enhancing the capacity of teacher education institutions for a period of 5 years duration. All capacity  building institutions of the state government  related to teacher education are in shamble but huge expenditure is incurred on the bureaucratic management of these institutions. There is urgent need to handover the functioning of these institutions to academicians.   In fact bureaucracy managing school and teacher education live lavish life whereas teachers are unable to fulfill the basic needs of their family. The state government is even unable to pay  poor salary of contract teachers’ timely. The low paid teachers have to wait for months to get their due which is lower than a poen and  more or less equal to a daily wage menial labourer. In spite of these, they are the only creatures among the state government employees who are tested for their skills and most of them have proven their worth. If skill of bureaucrats are tested like teachers most of them will fail to prove their worth. Contract teachers working in primary, middle, high schools of  Bihar and are currently protesting against the state government must get handsome pay scale along with allowances and service conditions so that they could lead a dignified life and work with all concentration.  Protocols regarding teachers must be announced which may save them from exploitation and repression by  local bureaucracy. I hope the state will listen to the demands of teachers and heed to the issues raised in this article immediately without losing any moment.