Bengaluru: The Right to Education (RTE) Act transformed Indian education in many ways and new research shows that RTE expanded the school choices of disadvantaged households by giving them better access to private schools.
But these households face many hurdles while getting benefits under RTE. To help such families, the Indus Action Organisation has been spreading awareness about Section 12(1)(c) of the RTE Act among communities that stand to benefit from the provision.
Indus Action launched a project, Eklavya, in 2013 to ensure that all children, irrespective of their caste, economic status, gender or religion, received quality education. The project is being implemented by its on-ground volunteers, called Shiksha Sahyogis.
Mr Tarun Cherukuri, co-founder and CEO, Indus Action, told Deccan Chroncile, “I fundamentally believe that it shouldn't matter where you are born to get the best shot at education. The Right to Education Act envisions a classroom in which there are children from different social and economic backgrounds, and they are able to learn together from each other's experiences. Especially for disadvantaged children, it is an opportunity to break the cycle and have a choice beyond the default of the public school in the neighbourhood. Our SMS, IVRS, helpline and door-to-door campaigns to help increase awareness on 12(1)(c) in low-income communities through community champions and partner organisations have succeeded.”
Awareness campaigns, policy interventions, decentralised networks and impact evaluation are part of the Ekalavya project. Since 2013, with its presence in 18 states, Indus Action has facilitated 6.28 lakh applications and 2.39 lakh admissions. It has entered into 11 MoUs with state governments and deployed high-end tech systems in four states.
Indus Action’s ambitious vision is to pull over 10 lakh families out of poverty every year by 2030.
“Indus Action is a policy implementation organisation doing the necessary tasks to see that policies designed to transform the social fabric of the country are fully realised. We bridge the gap between law and action. We want to make people aware about education and their rights related to education. When people share with me that their children got admission, it makes me feel so happy inside,” says Meenu, a Community Champion, Indus Action.
Since its presence in Karnataka over the last two years, it has been running awareness campaigns that involves distributing pamphlets at traffic lights, placing ads on autos, working with partner organisations and administering missed call helplines. Indus Action claims that in 2018, its first year of operations, it received over 13,000 calls and actively supported over 5,000 families during the application phase. In 2019, it received over 71,500 calls on RTE helpline and was ready to support these families, but the rules were amended this year in the state, where the number of applications for admission to private schools under Section 12(1)(c) clause was reduced to 17,000. The Indus Action is now working towards bringing back the older provision.