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Quota in Private Schools : Many Questions remain to be Answered

Of the numerous provisions in the landmark Right of Children To Free and Compulsory Education Act ( RTE ), a few would have aroused as much attention as the one mandating all private unaided schools to reserve 25 per cent of their seats to “children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups.”

The student’s fee is to be reimbursed by the State as part of a public – private partnership plan to ensure no child between 6 and 14 years is left without education.

However, this provision continues to raise questions among both parents who feel schools are not abiding by the clause in letter and spirit and private schools which feel it is not needed in Tamil Nadu, a State that boasts of a strong network of Government schools.

R. Manimohan, chairman of Students Welfare Association of Parents ( SWAP ), says the modalities for implementing the clause is yet to be clear despite the Act having come into force way back in April 2010.

No rules have been framed on how the students from the school’s locality must be selected and who must be given preference in admissions. Parents are hapless against the managements of private schools who, he allege, employed numerous reasons to circumvent this clause.

“The only solution is that the State Government should conduct the admissions in single window system similar to engineering college admissions,” says Mr. Manimohan.

However, Tamil Nadu Private Schools Association president R. Visalakshi says the income criteria fixed under the Act is too high.

“If the Government wants private schools to admit children living below poverty line ( BPL ) category, we ( private schools ) are ready to accommodate. However, this limit is too high and is only encouraging frivolous applications.”

Further, the modalities of how the Government will reimburse the private schools are still unclear. The contentious clause should not be enforced till the ambiguities are removed, she says.

K. Kathirmathiyon of Coimbatore Consumer Cause says co-opting schools is vital for the Act to succeed and as such, the fees being reimbursed must be reasonable.

“As on date, many are not aware of this reservation and as such, it needs wide publicity. The eligibility criteria and the method of approaching the schools / authorities must also be made known to the public. A mechanism acceptable to all sides has to be found out,” he adds.

Tamil Nadu Nursery, Primary, Matriculation and Higher Secondary Schools Welfare Association contends that while schools are willing, many are unable to fill beyond 10 per cent due to paucity of applicants.

General Secretary G. Krishnaraj says the improvements in infrastructure of the Government schools combined with the numerous freebies and the implementation of ‘Samacheer Kalvi’ ( Unitary System of Education, which means both the Government and private schools have the same syllabus ) are the reasons for this lack of adequate applicants.

“To a question on the Government schools raised in the Assembly, the School Education Minister had replied that their strength had increased to 20 lakh students in the current academic year from 18 lakh in the preceding year.”

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SSA To Introduce Health & Physical Eduation In Schools

Once the implementation of RTE took place across the nation, now the next focus is on strengthening and improving the quality of elementary education in the state in compliance with the RTE Act 2009.

SSA ( Sarva Siksha Abhiyan )’s main aim is to introduce health and physical education, art education and work education at the elementary level in the current academic session. In order to put this on force, SSA will be appointing 6081 part – time teachers on contractual basis who will impart lessons on health and physical education and art education for about 2,021 upper primary schools.

An official of SSA said that “These courses are being introduced for all – round development of children. This will also complete the holistic learning process. The national education policy suggested all round development of children at the elementary stage. Moreover, RTE Act – 2009 also envisages cognitive development of children in government schools in phase manner.”

He further said that, Part – time instructors will be posted at those upper primary schools where the enrolment of students is more than 100. This will be a certificate or diploma course for the students from Classes VI to VIII.

“After scrutiny of the online applications, shortlisted candidates will have to appear before interview board with their original documents. The interview will be organized at district level. Candidates who have passed their diploma or certificate courses from recognized government universities or boards can only apply.”

He further says”We have received around 25,000 applications and within 20th March, 2013 appointment letters will be handed over to the selected ones. The salary will be given to them on per hour basis. And those appointed will be posted in schools located in rural areas only” the official added.

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RTE Deadline nears, Most Schools Shy away

It’s about schools, government and the poor children caught in between them. With only a week left for schools to get registered under the Right to Education ( RTE ) Act, most of them are still shying away.

Sample this : Out of the 1,000 schools in Bangalore North, only 375 have approached the department to be recognized under the RTE. Similarly out of the 270 schools in Bangalore rural, only 81 private schools have volunteered to register.

“The registration is under process and we are hoping that all schools will register by 31st October, 2012. Our BEOs are keeping track of the registered and unregistered schools and action will be taken against those who fail to register by 31st October, 2012.

We are doubtful about the schools which refused to take RTE students for the academic year 2012 – 13. We are keeping an eye on such schools,” official sources told TOI.

For the schools, there are one too many issues to be sorted out, like free reimbursement, uniforms and so on. “By this time, we were expecting all schools to get registered under RTE. But only 81 private schools have registered.

We have issued notices to all schools to comply with the order,” said HV Venkateshappa, DDPI, Bangalore rural.

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RTE does not allow Home Schooling

In an important reversal of stand, the Centre has admitted that the Right to Education Act doesn’t allow home schooling.

Admitting that the earlier stand was incorrect, the Centre last week urged Delhi high court to permit it to file a fresh affidavit clarifying its stand in respect of home schooling vis – a – vis the RTE Act.

The U – turn by the Centre came on a petition filed by a student who argued that individuals had the right to choose their mode of education. The petition, filed by one Shreya Sahai through her mother, contended that RTE does not cater to gifted or talented children who leave the schooling system, or those in alternative schools and this anomaly must be addressed.

In response, the Centre had claimed by way of an affidavit submitted in July this year that RTE equates schooling with education and said those who opt for home – schooling are free to do so. The RTE Act, which came into effect on 1st April, 2010, makes it mandatory for every child ( from six to 14 years old ) to be enrolled in a formal school.

Intervening in the adjudication of the petition, Social Jurist advocate Ashok Agarwal had strongly objected to the Centre’s stand and argued that the demand on the part of Sahai for home – schooling / alternative forms of schooling and the stand taken by the Centre in support of such a demand is based on a completely casual and erroneous interpretation of the letter, spirit and intent of the RTE Act. Aggarwal contended this might lead to dismantling and weakening of the RTE Act.

In the latest hearing, the court gave time to the Centre to file a new affidavit. Earlier, the Centre had also said that National Institute of Open Schooling ( NIOS ) for children in the age group of 6 – 14 years will only be allowed to run up to 2015. “Parents who voluntarily opt for alternative forms of schooling may continue to do so. The RTE Act does not come in the way of such alternate schooling methodologies or declare such form of education illegal,” it had stated.

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No Detention till VIII STD

No student should be failed till class eight, a sub – committee of an apex education body has said, “unanimously” endorsing the RTE proposal but at the same time suggested “evaluation” of the schools and teachers.

The committee, which met here on 10th October, 2012 has further suggested NCERT to compile the progress of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation scheme which is running in schools across the country and the model followed in different states, said sources.

The sub – committee headed by Haryana education minister Geeta Bhukkal was set up by the Central Advisory Board of Education ( CABE ) this year for assessment and implementation of CCE in the context of no – detention or not failing student provision in RTE.

The “no – detention” clause had become contentious after it met with opposition in some states leading to the constitution of the sub – committee.

The panel had also invited suggestions from the members of general public for effective implementation of CCE and no – detention provision.

The sub – committee were unanimous on the view that no – detention does not mean no – evaluation in class.

In its second meeting, it also understood to have examined the final legislation to prohibit unfair practices in school education such as demanding donations for making admissions, overcharging of fees, not issuing written receipts for payments made by students.

The legislation also seeks to check misleading advertisements to cheat students and parents, employing unqualified or ineligible teachers, underpaying teachers and other employees and withholding of certificates and other documents of students who decide to migrate to other schools.

The legislation is expected to be put before the CABE meeting in November.

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Right to Education ( RTE ) Act at Plus – Two Level in Haryana

The Haryana government on 10th October, 2012 said it is considering implementing the Right to Education ( RTE ) Act at plus – two level.

According to Haryana education minister Geeta Bhukkal, her state was ahead of others in implementing the RTE Act and so it was considering to implement it at plus – two level also.

Her statement came in the backdrop of the HRD Ministry contemplating to extend the deadline for executing the provisions of RTE, which comes to an end on March 31 next year, by another two years. The government may move necessary amendments in this regard.

The Act provides for free and compulsory education at the elementary level in neighbourhood schools.

Bhukkal was presiding over a meeting of the sub – committee of the Central Advisory Board of Education ( CABE ) which deliberated on the contentious no – detention policy and continuous and comprehensive evaluation programme in schools.

While divergent views were expressed in the meeting on the issue of no – detention policy in classes, it was cleared that no-detention does not mean no – evaluation in class.

However, the meeting suggested that there should be common competency test at class III, V and VIII levels, sources said.

The suggestions are expected to be taken up at the next CABE meeting.

The meeting was attended by Assam education minister Himanta Biswa, Chhattisgarh minister of school education Brij Mohan Agarwal, Bihar minister of HRD Prashant Kumar Sahi besides officers from Bihar, Assam and Chhattisgarh, SCERT, Andhra Pradesh and NCERT.

Issues like shortage of funds, parity in the standard of teachers also came up in the meeting.

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Set up Panel for Smooth Implementation of RTE

Managements of private unaided schools have appealed to Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri to set up a committee with representation of all stakeholders to ensure smooth implementation of the Right to Education Act.

Forum :

The schools forged an umbrella organisation to protect their common interests recently. They were hitherto affiliated to various organisations based on the boards to which they belong.

Chairman of the joint action committee of private schools L.R. Shivarame Gowda told the press people that they held a meeting with Mr. Kageri last week, in which he agreed to the formulation of such a committee.

The organisation has put forward several demands, including that admission for 25 per cent seats at entry level should begin in January and be closed by February.

‘Streamline process’ :

They have also asked that collection of information by the Education Department be streamlined as multiple authorities were asking for the same information, much of which was not available in schools. “Sufficient time should be given to submit reasonable information and there should be no harassment in this regard,” the committee has said.

On the question of fee reimbursement, the committee wants the fees to be paid by the parents and not directly by the government.

Eligibility for RTE :

They have said that eligibility for claiming RTE quota should be restricted to children from families below the poverty line.

The organisation has also asked that the government should ensure that no “anti – social elements or mobs” enter school premises, and “attack schools, damage the property, manhandle the staff, teachers and management.”

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Lessons on RTE for School Teachers

In a role reversal of sorts, teachers took to notebooks and pens at a workshop held in the city.

The focus of the ongoing reinforcement training workshop was on familiarising them with the Right to Education Act and getting more students to attend schools and providing them continuous and free education.

Teachers, headmasters and officials in charge of primary, middle and upper-primary classes said that convincing parents to send their wards to schools and ensuring the students attended classes regularly was one of the major challenges they faced.

A primary teacher from Tirupur district said they took various measures to ensure that children came to school. “We get children of persons who work as scavengers. They dress their children as early as six in the morning, and leave for work, but the children rarely come to school. I make several trips on my two-wheeler to get the children to school,” she said.

A headmaster of a Corporation-run primary school said despite door-to-door campaigns, the student strength at his institution was a mere 27 this year.

“Last year, we had 57 students, but 21 students passed out of class – V last year. We have not been able to fill that lacuna,” she said.

Though in a much better position than in previous years, issues such as migration and child marriage still plagued some areas of the city, said K. Mahalakshmi, supervisor, zone – 5, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan ( SSA ).

One of the most important points they had to drive home was that even those students who could not produce documents, such as a transfer certificate, had to be admitted in age – appropriate classes, said P. Ayyannan, chief educational officer, SSA.

The two-day training programme was jointly organised by SSA and the Tamil Nadu State Council for Educational Research and Training. A. Samadhanam, assistant project officer, SSA, said, since the training workshop fell in the middle of the vacations, teachers were given the option of attending the programme at any of the centres across the state.

The training was conducted on Thursday for primary school teachers, on Friday for headmasters, and on Saturday for upper primary school teachers in the four centres in the city.

Close to 2,722 primary and 2,744 upper primary teachers working in government, government-aided and Corporation-run schools took part in the training programme, he said. Block resource training educators were engaged as resource persons to conduct the training programme.

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Puducherry told to notify Right to Education Act Rules

The Madras High Court on 1st August, 2011 directed the Puducherry territorial administration to notify the rules under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act as expeditiously as possible, preferably within three months.

The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice M.Y.Eqbal and Justice T.S. Sivagnanam, passed the order while disposing of a public interest litigation petition seeking a direction to the Union Territory of Puducherry, represented by its Education Secretary, to finalise and notify the rules for effective implementation of the legislation.

In his petition, P. Joseph Victor Raj, Puducherry convener, Campaign Against Child Labour – Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, said there were certain “revolutionary provisions” in the legislation. In particular, Section 4 made provision for completion of elementary education by children who had never been admitted or who had dropped out.

Section 11 mandated that for early childhood care and education of all children, the government should provide free pre-school education for children between three and six years of age.

The Act contained a provision about the powers of the government to make rules for implementing the legislation. The Centre had framed the rules and notified them. Similarly, 13 States, including Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Punjab and Haryana had notified the rules.

In September last year, Puducherry framed the draft rules and invited suggestions. Several suggestions had been given.


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