Child rights panel for lowering of admission age under RTE quota

The Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has recommended increasing the age for admission to schools under the RTE quota from the current six years to seven, and reducing the income ceiling to Rs one lakh from Rs 3.5 lakh.

The suggestions were made during a workshop organised by the Commission in the City on Saturday. The workshop was organised in accordance with a February 12 High Court order which directed various stakeholders, including the government, to examine better methods of enforcing RTE Act in the State.

“As far as the income criteria is concerned, preference should be given to those families with an income of Rs one lakh and then subsequently to those earning Rs two and three lakh,” said Umashankar, the Commissioner of Public Instruction, during the panel discussion.

A recommendation by the Child Rights Trust also called for the quality of education in government schools to be on a par with that in private institutions. Admitting the dismal condition of government schools, Umashankar said: “Private schools maintain quality which is the reason why I am sending my own children to private schools.”

Nagasimha Rao of the Child Rights Trust retorted that quality in government schools may improve if officials sent their own children to such schools.

Considering delays by the government in reimbursing RTE funds to private schools, Dr Gulshad Ahmed from the Karnataka Unaided Minorities Schools asked that  the government disburse money allocated for RTE in one instalment.

The Panel members also examined needs of the disabled children. “The RTE Act should be amended to include specific provisions for disabled children like a special curriculum and infrastructure and specific reservations for them,” said Kathyayini Chamaraj from Citizens Voluntary Initiative for the City.

Attendees also suggested that the chairperson of the Child Rights Commission be given a cabinet berth to give the commission more powers. “At the moment, the commission is only a recommendatory body and the government may not take its suggestions seriously,” explained Lakshmi Prasanna from the Association for Promoting Social Action.

Better monitoring of education schemes like mid-day meals, disbursement of school uniforms and school textbooks were some of the other recommendations. “Even the general public has every right to seek the court's intervention in this regard,” said Justice Hulavadi G Ramesh, who inaugurated the event. “The government, educational institutions and society at large should take the right steps to implement the act.”

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