Showing posts with label Grant in Aid. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grant in Aid. Show all posts

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Right to Education Act and Children with Disabilities

Dear Friends,

Now the Ministry of HRD, Govt. of India has indicated that what best they can do to include Children with Disabilities in the RTE Act  2009 is by including them under the Definition of "Disadvantaged Children". And that is their bit.

Any thing further is not their cup of tea and Ministry of Social Justice should do something to amend the Persons with disabilities Act. There can not be any thing worse than this. The fact is that the children with disabilities are no one's babies when it comes to inclusion and equal rights.

Isn't it simple that Ministry of HRD being the nodal ministry for Education  should also deal with education of children with disability? I fail to understand as to how education of children with disabilities becomes a welfare issue? This needs to stop right now and the RTE bill needs to be amended conclusively to provide for all support, special educators, therapists,  reasonable accommodation and inclusive schools based on universal design. Nothing less than that is going to be acceptable to us!

There is good news that Delhi Government is changing the Recruitment Rules of the Teachers to include Recruitment Rules for Special Educators and related matters after the recent Delhi High Court judgement in Social Jurists PIL. However, the situation in other states is pathetic and grave.

The Education for All "सर्व शिक्षा अभियान" has actually failed to cater to the needs of children with disabilities in an inclusive set up. It is impossible to include children in the mainstream without proper preparation of teachers, infrastructure and support systems. Also only appointment of two Special Educators per school in the National Capital Territory Region will not serve the larger needs and the states have to take proactive measures to address the issue. Till today, there is no talk of developmental therapists, speech therapists, mobility trainers and other rehabilitation professional being included as a part of mainstream schools which are otherwise a necessary part of Special schools run by NGOs.

The First Country Report on action taken by Indian Government on UNCRPD is due in May 2010. The Union Government has sought reports from States as what actions they have taken in these areas and I received a frantic call from one leading State NGO from one of the states asking that the State Welfare department is asking about UNCRPD and what is that Government is required to do in light of this. I was taken aback but this is sadly the truth! Many departments in state governments are not even aware or have taken no pains to even open the convention document that Union Government might have sent to them.

In such situation, there is an urgent and calling need for the NGOs and the DPOs to act as monitors and get the systems working. On its own, nothing would happen and we need to show the road to the implementing agencies and the Governments. Its our cause and we can't wait for it to happen on its own, at the whims and fancies of State. The Persons with Disabilities Act is a live testimony to this which has not been fully implemented even after nearly one and a half decade of its being passed by the Parliament of India.

I see a new role for the NGOs - that of  "Facilitators of Change" and "Advocacy Organisations" and "Resource Centres" to guide the Government rather than merely restricting themselves to the role of a Service Provider.

Its when you get engaged in Providing Service, you have no time or energy left to act as Resource Centre or advocacy organisation and also you keep chasing the grant applications to the Government to run the schools and other services. And that is what precisely the Government want you to remain engaged in!

We have to understand that education of children with disability is a fundamental right of the children which the Government is bound to provide for in terms of  systems, infrastructure and finance. Thus there is no point in NGOs seeking grants which are often very subjective and do not cover even the 50% of the expenses if rightfully done. I had taken up few cases for NGOs where the workers of the NGOs went against their employers in the Labour Courts seeking minimum wages and what I learnt from NGOs was that the grant that comes for a helper is merely 2000 Rupees which is far less than the minimum wage of an unskilled worker in Delhi. The matters are pending in High Court where Grant making Ministries have been impleaded as necessary parties for proper adjudication of the case! And I am well aware what is going to be the outcome of such petition!

Therefore it is the right time for NGOs to redcue their role as Service Provider and gradually move towards their new and calling role as Resource Centres, Research bodies and be a part of Advocacy and Monitoring mechanism to ensure that the rights of persons with disability to live with dignity in society on an equal basis with others are realised to its full and rights enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are progressively realised.

Another worrying issue that we should be concerned with too is the second amendment which HRD ministry is contemplating to bring in RTE Act to satisfy the powerful lobby of minority institutions who do not want to be governed by State Laws at the same time want to continue receiving grants/aids from the Government. These schools if exempted from constituting School Management Committees (which is a powerful tool to increase citizen's participation in the school management and check misuse of public funds) they could do what they like without any external check including refusal to take in children with disabilities. The move should be resisted by one and all to ensure participation of civil society and stakeholders in the process of education and maintain transparency in the delivery of quality education to all including children with disabilities.
Subhash Chandra Vashishth, Advocate-Disability Rigths,, 9811125521

To read the press coverage on RTE click here

RTE Act to cover kids with disabilities

NEW DELHI: Children with physical, learning and speech disabilities would now be put under the disadvantaged category in the Right to Education Act.

The Cabinet will soon take up HRD ministry's cabinet note seeking amendment in the RTE Act. Another amendment seeks to exempt schools run by minority organisations from setting up School Management Committees.

However, the amendment bill will be introduced only in the budget session of Parliament.

In the last session of Parliament, when the RTE Bill was passed, disabled rights groups had protested against non-inclusion of disabled children in the disadvantaged category. Disability will be further explained to include disabilities mentioned in the People with Disabilities Act and National Trust Act. But since PWD Act does not include cerebral palsy, autism and multiple disability, RTE amendment bill will specifically mention disabilities like dyslexia, aphasia and learning and speech disabilities.

Sources, however, said amending RTE to include disabilities is not enough. "Social justice ministry should move a comprehensive amendment bill to amend PWD Act. HRD ministry has done its bit," a source said.

The second amendment states that schools run by minority bodies will be exempted from setting up School Management Committees. The proposed amendment, sources said, will exclude schools managed by minority organisations from constituting School Management Committees. Right now, only unaided schools not receiving any kind of aid or grant from the government or local authorities are excluded from setting up school management committees (SMCs).

The amendment comes in the wake of demand from many states and minority-run institutions that they be exempted from setting up SMCs because it contravenes Article 30 of the Constitution that gives minorities right to establish and administer educational institutions. The amendment will be carried out in sub-clauses of clause (n) of Section 2 of the Act as well as in section 21 of the Act. It will specifically mention that minority-run institutions need not have SMCs. In the RTE Act, SMCs have a big role to play in the running of schools. Half the members of the committee will be women.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Election Commission clarifies - Grant can't be stopped in the name of Model Code of Conduct

Dear Friends,

This is in response to my earlier post on "Should Rehabilitation Services come to stand still when Model Code of Conduct is in force ?"

I have been informed by Sh. JL Kaul, Secretary General AICB that our communication and the resonance that your efforts created did work very well!

Election Commission of India has directed the Government of India, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to release grant to NGOs before 31st March and work has already been started.

Mr. Kaul has expressed thanks to all organisations who supported the petition/appeal and also wrote to the Commission directly.

Who says, the reason and strong advoacy doesn't work in India?

Congratulations to the sector and thanks to the Election Commission for their quick and timely resonse.

Warm regards,

Subhash Chandra Vashishth
Mobile: +91 (11) 9811125521

Should Rehabilitation Services come to stand still when Model Code of Conduct is in force ?

Dear Friends,

This is election time and the Election Commission of India has enforced the Model Code of Conduct. We have seen in the immediate past that in the name of Model Code of Conduct, a few Govt. Departments literally refuse to undertake even the routine activities that would not otherwise come under the purview of the the Model Code of Conduct more so when any of such activities are not related to promoting or giving benefit to any political party. We had seen similar stance taken by a senior Govt. Official in Tamil Nadu in refusing to restore the extra time facility in the government exams to Visually Impaired students.

We are faced with another typical problem that many of your organisations might be facing. This is regarding Grant in aid being received by many Organisation in Disability Sector for their projects from the Union Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment under the Ministry's regular scheme titled "Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme for the Persons with Disabilities"

This scheme is not a special or discretionary grant and a large number of education & rehabilitation services are run with these grants by NGOs in absence of any Govt. owned set up to run similar programmes. Thus this becomes a regular service to the community which can't and should not get affected due to Model Code of Conduct.

By any prudence, the educational, vocational and rehabilitation services to the persons with disabilities can't come to stand still because there is a model code of conduct in force! Thus this is the right time that the issue is taken up with the appropriate authority i.e. the Chief Election Commission of India and in the States if such issues are being faced by other NGOs also in the other parts of the Country.

AICB, has initiated such an exercise and I would appeal all those who are affected by similar dilemma, to take recourse to similar exercise to restore this right to the persons with disabilities that they work with. Appended below is the appeal letter written to the Chief Election Commissioner by All India Confederation of the Blind which can be taken as reference point by the affected organisations.

Subhash Chandra Vashishth

Appeal Letter

Ref:-AICB/G-1/2009 16th March, 2009

The Hon’ble Chief Election Commissioner,
Government of India ,
Nirvachan Sadan, Ashoka Road ,
New Delhi-110001.

Sub:- Non-release of Government-grant-in-aid to disability NGO’s—Code of Conduct Regulation—relief solicited.


1) We wish to bring to your kind notice that disability NGO’s like ours are faced with a genuine and serious problem of non- receipt of funds which has arisen, albeit in advertently , due to the moral Code of Conduct currently in force.

2) The specific problem is explained below and we write to request you to take into consideration our special situation and grant us necessary relief.
3) Disability NGO’s receive grant-in-aid for their projects from the Union Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment under that Ministry’s regular Scheme titled “Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme for the Persons with Disability”. These are not special or discretionary grants, but are offered on a regular basis and cover such crucial items as payment of staff salaries, meeting the cost of board and lodging for disabled children/adults, Braille books, equipments etc. This is an on-going Scheme.

4) Unfortunately, the Ministry releases grants under the Scheme only towards the end of February/March for covering annual expenses, as per specified sealings. We are, now, given to understand that the Ministry cannot even process grant-in-aid Cases, let alone sanction/release grants under the said Scheme even for on-going projects, at this juncture, since the moral Code of Conduct has come into force, subsequent to the announcement of Lok Sabha Elections. This seriously hurts the functioning of NGO’s like ours, since it makes extremely difficult for us to continue our welfare activities for want of funds. Hence, we request you to come to our rescue.

5) We do realize that the Code of Conduct, too, thus prohibit release of funds to preempt the possibility of giving rise to malpractices. At the same time, the interests of disabled children/adults we serve in accordance with the mandate of a welfare State cannot also be compromised/sacrificed.

6) In view of the foregoing, it is our humble submission that the concerned Ministry may be allowed to process related Cases and release grant-in-aid this month itself(before the close of the financial year) on the basis of the following formula:

a) No new projects may be assisted while the Code is on;
b) However, grant-in-aid may be allowed to be released for on-going activities, which have been assisted by the Ministry for preceding three years;
c) The grant to be released may be the same as released during the preceding year i.e. 2007-2008;
d) Any under-payment/over payment may be adjusted in the coming year.

We need hardly add that the Election Commission of India would earn the gratitude of thousands of disabled children/adults by acceding to our above request which would save them from untold hardships, which might otherwise result from possible break-down of services.

Thanking you and hoping to a favorable response.

Yours truly,