Experts seek changes in RTE Act

Experts seek changes in RTE Act

The memory of going away from parents with damp eyes to learn first lessons of life to school is something unforgettable. Unfortunately, there are millions of children in India who are deprived of this feeling. With the aim of providing free and compulsory education to the children between 6 and 14 years, as ensured in the Constitution, Government has brought in Right to Children for Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education (RTE) 2009. India became one of 135 countries to make education a fundamental right of every child when the act came into force on April 1, 2010.

Though the Act was conceived to bring about universalisation of education, provide quality education to all children and to wipe out discrimination in education to make way for free and compulsory education, child right activists, educationist and academicians feel there is need for several amendments to the Act to make it effective so as to change the face of the country.

Highlights

The Act makes education a fundamental right of every child between the ages of 6 and 14. It requires all private schools to reserve 25 per cent of seats to children from poor families (to be reimbursed by the state as part of the public-private partnership plan). It also prohibits all unrecognised schools from practice, and makes provisions for no donation or capitation fees and no interview of the child or parent for admission.

The Act says that no child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until the completion of elementary education. There is a provision for special training of school drop-outs to bring them on par with students of the same age.
The Act prohibits physical and mental harassment.

The RTE Act requires surveys that will monitor all neighbourhoods, identify children requiring education, and set up facilities for providing it.

According to the Act, 70 per cent of the members of School Monitoring and Development Committee (SDMC) should be parents. Since this is already in practice in Karnataka, the system will be retained with 75 per cent of SDMC members being parents and 25 per cent being others including teachers’ representatives.

Discussion

The State Government has called for suggestions to form the rules under the Act for the State. Suggestions are to be sent within September 30, 2010 and academicians, educational experts and child right activists are busy getting deeper into the Act to ensure effective implementation of the same.

Child right activists Renni D’Souza and Hameed Manjeshwar say that the very point that free and compulsory education should be provided to children between 6 and 14 years should be amended and the age limit should be taken up to 18 years.

They are of the opinion that the very discussion on the Act is creating a cold war between private and public schools ultimately ending up creating a scenario of ‘educational untouchability’.

“The discussion should be held on ways to implement the Act more effectively and ensure universalisation of education. Unfortunately, the discussion has taken a different course,” says Hameed who adds that private schools have taken objection to the provision of the Act. Private schools feel that their prestige will be tarnished if 25 per cent of seats are given to poor and economically backward students.

 “They have to understand that education is not a matter of prestige and pride,” he says and adds that it is time everyone aim at bringing in ‘common education system’ as against  ‘categorisation of education’. D’Souza says that it is clearly stated that a child cannot be isolated or separated from another on the basis of caste, class and creed. Unfortunately, with the discussion taking wrong course, this discrimination is being seen clearly.

D’Souza further adds that the Act talks of local authorities to be the local governing bodies ranging from City Corporation to Gram Panchayats while the Draft of rules talk of local authorities as Gram Panchayata alone. “If this is the case, then implementation of the Act will be difficult in the cities,” he said.

Pvt schools’ stand

Catholic Board of Education Secretary Fr Wilson said that the Act should be made flexible with regard to fixing of fees. “It is difficult for aided schools to provide modern facilities for students without collecting fees. Further, the delay in the release of government funds too affects the functioning of schools,” he said.

St Aloysius High School Headmaster Fr Melwin Pinto said that the rules drafted under the Act should be relaxed and aided schools should be allowed to receive voluntary donations.

Chandrashekhar, a school teacher, pointed out that the quality of education cannot be ensured if failing system is done away with.

He suggested that standard check points should be introduced to monitor students’ calibre.

With activists and educationalists working to make best out of the Act, one has to wait and watch as to what the final outcome will be, both on paper as well as in the community.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)