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How right is the Right to Education Act

Wednesday December 21, 2011 12:33:15 PM, Team

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AIMPBL campaign for amendments in RTE Act, Waqf Bill begins Tuesday

A countrywide campaign by the All Indian Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPBL) to mobilise support for amendments in the existing Right to Education (RTE) Act  

Malegaon: Ever since the introduction of the Right of children to free and compulsory Education (RTE) Act in the parliament in the year 2009, objections were raised and amendments in its controversial clauses sought. But the government did not pay any heed to these demands and went ahead with its implementation from April 01, 2010.


The act passed and implemented with much fanfare no doubt is a huge step forward in ensuring elementary education to a vast majority in the country who otherwise are kept away from schools. The name chosen for the act is also very appealing. Hence, the Act received an overwhelming acceptance by all and sundry barring a small group of people including the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). AIMPLB, though does not reject the act in total and agrees that it is timely and advantageous in general, feels that some of its clauses are dangerous and will have dire consequences on the society and education quality in the longer run. As the AIMPLB begins the nationwide campaign to press its demand for amendments in the RTE Act, summarises some of its concerns for its readers:


Minority Institutions

The primary objection of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) against the RTE Act is its impact on the Madrasa Education and minority institutions. The RTE Act in section 17 (5) says that any person who establishes or runs a school without obtaining certificate of recognition would be liable to punishment. In section 18 (1) it says, 'no school, other than a school established, owned or controlled by the appropriate government or local authority, shall after the commencement of this act, be established or function, without obtaining a certificate of recognition from such authority'. Since the Madrasas and other minority institutions including Vedic pathshalas and gurukuls are normally not recognised by the government, the board believes that this clause in the RTE Act will have a direct impact on them and its immediate fallout would be their forceful closures.


The board also questions the conditions laid down in the act for obtaining recognition for new and existing schools. It feels that the required infrastructure and land as stated in sections 19 and 25 of the act is practically impossible for majority of the Minority Institutions as they are already running these institutes in challenging conditions.


Education Quality

The board feels that section 30 and the supporting clauses of the act which deal with elimination of the examination system and promotion of the students to higher standards even if they are irregular and absent from the classes are bound to have dire consequences on the education quality.


The board further questions section 17 of the act which states, 'No child shall be subjected to physical punishment or mental harassment'. The board feels that because of these sections the students would not only be lacking in competition spirit but they will also find them incapable of facing the board and competitive exams.


Moreover, the board feels, since the act is totally silent on the explanation of 'mental harassment', this particular section gives a dangerous tool in the hands of students and their parents to harass and take to the police station the school authorities on tiny issues.


The board also questions the very concept of 'Neighborhood School' as explained in the act. Opposition to this particular section of the act which makes it mandatory for the schools to reserve 25% admission seats for the 'children of the neighborhood' has also been expressed by private schools run by the top notch managements of the country.


Age Limit

The act in its original form had put the age limit of the students for compulsory education from 6 to 14. In the latest amendment in the act presented in the parliament during its ongoing session this age limit has been changed to 3-18. The concern of the board is that the act advises admission to schools of 'children' from this group on the basis of their age not on merit. The board feels, this implies that if a person because of his or her age is liable to admission in 10th standard, h/s should be given admission in that standard even if h/s has not attended a single class before. Imposing such thing, the board feels, will only create 'illiterate degree holders' in the country.    


School Committee

The board also questions the structure of the school management committee as mentioned in the act. The board feels that formation of such a school committee with substantial representation of parents is particularly harmful for the schools located in backward areas and where students from same background take admissions.


Meanwhile, days after the AIMPLB decision to protest taken November 26, the union cabinet proposed exempting Madrasas and other minority institutions from the RTE Act. Earlier to this, the HRD Ministry had on January 15, 2010 issued guidelines in order to address some of these issues. The board however says that the cabinet decision or mere guidelines are not sufficient and demands permanent amendments in the act in the parliament.








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