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All You Need to Know About Right to Education Act

What is Right to Education Act?

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, or Right to Education Act (RTE), was hailed as a landmark bill in 2009 when it was passed by parliament August 4 2009. The Act dictates that all children between the ages of 6 and 14 are entitled to free and compulsory education. The Act also states that 25 per cent of admissions in all private unaided schools will be provided free of cost to children from underprivileged homes in neighbouring areas. The Act will apply for only Class 1 students this year.

Supreme Court upholds Act
On April 12 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the RTE Act and made it clear that its would be implemented across the country. The court, however, exempted private unaided minority schools (such as schools run by religious institutions) from the Act stating that it would “infringe the fundamental freedom” of such schools. The Karnataka government, through its Budget, hd also stated that the RTE Act would be implemented from the academic year 2012-2013.
State government issues rules

The state government published the rules for the implementation of the RTE Act on April 28. Some salient features:
All private schools qualifying under RTE should start a separate bank account which would be subject to regular audits by the government. The state would fix a per child expenditure (which is the total recurring expenditure incurred by the state on elementary education divided by total number of children enrolled in such schools), which would be reimbursed to the schools.

nProtection of child rights
The rules state that the Commissioner of Public Instruction be in-charge to making sure children hailing from underprivileged backgrounds will not be discriminated against or segregated. The deputy director of public instruction (DDPI) or the local authority will have to ensure that “no child is subjected to caste, class, religious or gender discrimination” under their jurisdiction.

The Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) will monitor and inquire into grievances and complaints of violations of child rights.

A 14-member council called Karnataka State Advisory Council for Elementary Education will also be instituted with the commissioner for public instruction being the member secretary of the council.

nDSERT the “academic authority”
The department of state educational research and training (DSERT) will be the academic authority in the state for all schools adopting the state curriculum.

The Block Education Officer (BEO) will have the right to question schools in the case of any school violating any of the provisions.

Problems posed by RTE

The management of many private schools feel that not enough time has been given for a smooth implementation of the Act. The admission process for most schools has already been completed for the upcoming academic year. Increasing the class size by 25% at this point either would mean that the student-teacher ratio goes up or the facilities available for students would not be available for everyone

Fee structure
One of the biggest fears held by parents with children starting at the elementary level is that the fee structure would go up for the rest of the 75% of students. This is a fear also aired by several private school federation bodies, who maintain that schools will have to increase fees substantially. “The government will be setting per-child expenditure according to its own expenditure but this will not take into account the water bills, electricity bills, uniforms and other expenses,” said Sudi Suresh, secretary of the Karnataka State Private School Management Federation (KSPSMF). According to experts, the per-child expenditure set by the government is likely to be around Rs9,000, and the average annual fee structure for some prestigious schools in the city is around Rs60,000.

Neighbourhood school concept
Yet another problem brought to the table by the KSPSMF during a recent meeting organised for private school managements was the confusion over the definition of neighbourhood schools. “In rural areas and districts, there are not too many schools but in cities, there are several in every area. So which one should qualify as a neighbourhood school? And what happens when there aren’t enough children to complete that 25% quota? Will those seats be left empty?” Suresh wondered.

Who gets admission?
While the Act states that children coming from underprivileged backgrounds are entitled to get free admissions in private schools in their neighbourhood, it does not specifically define in monetary terms as to what constitutes “underprivileged”.This has made the admission process in many schools all that more difficult. However, primary and secondary education minister, Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri, has said that the definition of “poor” would be provided soon after consultation with the social welfare department.

Psychological impact
There are also fears amongst academicians that classrooms would be split into two worlds when the academic year begins. Child psychologists fear that the 75% of students coming from relative affluence would be able to afford school supplies and some luxuries as well, which may not be possible for the children from underprivileged backgrounds.

Read The full Story Here: DNA India OR Download PDF File, Image: 12rf.com

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