Showing posts with label right to education bill 2008. Show all posts
Showing posts with label right to education bill 2008. Show all posts

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Right to Education Act 2009 set to be amended

Dear Friends,
There have been several voices against the RTE Bill which fail to die down- thanks to the ever vibrant disability sector. On 19th of September 2009, another Disability Rights Activists from across 15 Indian States assembled under the banner of Viklang Manch facilitated by Human Rights Law Network at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. Before that the Manch had convened a two Day workshop on the issue which were inaugurated by none less than Chairperson- National Trust, Chairman-Rehabilitation Council of India and the Deputy Chief Commissioner -Disabilities besides Mr. Collin Gonsalves, Advocate.
The activists were angry and the unrest has grown over a period of time because of failure of the bureaucracy in treating the disabled with dignity and respect besides Govt. of India's failure to implement a major enabling legislation called the Persons with Disabilities Act.
The agitation was a final nail in the series of agitations earlier organised by AARTH-ASTHA , AADI, NCPEDP and other organisations in the sector. The very next day on 21st September, 2009 Mr. Sibal indicated that Govt. was seriously considering amending the RTE Act to include the concerns of the disability sector.
Now when the Govt. is seriously considering amendments in RTE Act, the Sector should reach out with one voice through a larger consultation so that no one is left out. The pursuit should be to address not only the Act but also suggest what ought to be there in the sub-rules of the Act so that the provisions that are included are implementable.
Here is a recent news which to me is no where indicative of its subject, though it spells out again the seriousness that the Ministry of Education is showing now.
SC Vashishth
Disabled children not to be in 'disadvantaged' class
5 Oct 2009, 0411 hrs IST, Urmi A Goswami, ET Bureau
NEW DELHI: The Manmohan Singh government plans to amend the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 to broaden the ambit of “disadvantaged” children to include children with disabilities. It would like to introduce the amendments in the winter session of Parliament.
The ministry of human resource development (HRD) will be seeking Cabinet approval shortly for the changes. This move would allow differently-abled children from economically weaker and disadvantaged sections to take advantage of the 25% seats set aside in private unaided school under Clause 12 of the Act. This had been a key demand of disability activists when they met HRD minister Kapil Sibal. The ministry also plans to introduce changes in Clause 3 of the Act to extend the right to free and compulsory education to children suffering from disabilities as defined in the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999.
This Act deals with severe mental retardation and goes beyond the scope of the Disabilities Act. At present, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act is applicable to differently-abled children covered by the Disabilities Act.
This move by the ministry of human resource development is in response to the protests by disability activists in August, just ahead of the legislation being taken up for discussion in the Lok Sabha. At the time, the ministry had suggested that it could amend the Act after due consultation with those who work and research on issues relating to the education of children suffering from severe mental disabilities.
The ministry had also considered a higher outlay for home-based education, which many children with severe disabilities require. This effort to draw in larger number of children with disability also comes on the back of data gathered by a survey conducted by the IMRB.
The survey found that 34.12% of children with disability were out of school. The national average for children in the age group of 6 to 13 years is 4.22%. This figure is lower than the situation in 2005 when IMRB found the percentage of children out of school at 38.13. The highest concentration of out of school children is among those with visual disabilities (46%) and multiple disabilities (58.57%).

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Again to Jantar Mantar: Education bill 'flawed', will move Supreme Court: Expert

Dear all!

I think we should not be befooled by the false promises of Ministers - who as many say - are hurrying up to finish their 100 days agenda and have been bringing up bills in haste without consulting the stakeholders and without public scrunity!

I am personally not convinced with what media reported today with regard to RTE and disability. Mr. Anil Sadgopal and others have decided to move Supreme Court against the Bill in the present form.

Do you think we can join in the Dharna again at Jantar Mantar and join hands with Mr. Sadgopal & others against the RTE Bill in present form and seek to include disability in to mainstream business. The bill is flawed on many other issues also. And unless these flaws are addressed, inclusive education will only remain an utopia and never be realised!

And I sincerely believe that while we strongly advocate and talk of inclusion in the mainstream schooling system, the sector we work with will also suffer the same issues in these mainstream schools. The following issues concern the education and early intervention of children with disabilities also:

(a) Non - inclusion of children from 3 years to 6 years age group in the bill while the Govt. Schools have started admitting children for pre-school.
(b) No support or talk of community schools concept
(c) No system to tackle fees hike in private schools
(d) No clarity on how govt. will make re-imburse the money spent on students.(e) If it is a bill for rights of children then why children up to 14 are only covered? If the law doesn't consider under 18 to be adult - then why not include children up to 18 and below. Also in case of Disabled it could be raised to 21 from present 18.

Besides this, disability related clauses like can also be included:

(a) Relegating disability to chapter V of PWD Act and not mainstreaming the issue in the bill
(b) Non-addition of Children with disabilities in definition of "Disadvantaged children"
(c) Non-inclusion of Special schools
(d) No system of re-imbursing money to special schools

The MSJE pays a paltry sum to NGOs for running schools, under grants which is subject to reduction by certain percentage every year! Why can't Govt. re-imburse education per child to NGOs also on the same pattern? Why discrimination among disabled and non-disabled children. If the money is earmarked, many NGOs, private institutions & community schools, private and govt. schools would come forward to include children with disabilities.

Also mere statement of Mr. Sibal in the Parliament that disadvantaged children would include disabled children holds no water in the eyes of law. Mr. Arjun Singh had made a very bold statement on the subject few years ago but that remained a statement till date. Therefore, let us not believe on the statements of politicians and we should not rest till it is added in the legislation itself.

Also it is a sufficient ground for review that the bill had been introduced and passed by both the houses without a single public hearing for a legislation with such far-reaching consequences. We had no time to discuss it and its ramifications in its totality and only adhoc issues could be raised in the protest!

Now AISA and All India Forum to Right to Education have decided to hold a public hearing and thereafter go to Supreme Court agaisnt it. Here is the call:

A Public Hearing on the Right to Education Bill
and UPA's Other Proposals Towards Commercialization of Education

August 7 (Friday), Jantar Mantar, 11 am Onwards

Jury Members:
Prof. Anil Sadgopal, noted educationist
Prof. R.K. Agnihotri, Delhi University
Prof. Minati Panda, JNU
Prof. Nawal Kishore Choudhury, Patna University
Dr. Azra Razzak, Jamia Millia Islamia
Colin Gonsalves, Human Rights Law Network
Kedarnath Pandey MLC, Bihar, Teacher Leader
A. Narasimha Reddy, Vice President, Andhra Pradesh Save Education Committee

The UPA government has passed the farcical “Right to Education Bill”: and the MHRD is busy touting this as a "historic" piece of legislation that will finally open the doors of education and empowerment to each and every child of the country. From its title, the Right to Education Bill passed on 20th July by the Rajya Sabha and on 4th August by the Lok Sabha suggests that its aims to make education a basic right available for all. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. The RTE in its present form is a farce in the name of genuine right to education - it designed to keep in place the discriminatory, multi-layered education system that currently prevails. In 1993, in the Unnikrishnan judgement, the Supreme Court declared that from birth until the age of fourteen, children were entitled to free and compulsory education and this was accorded the status of a basic right. This is how the genuine Right to Education is best defined.

In contrast, what the new bill promises is laughable. It states:

Ø That 25% seats in private schools will be reserved for poor students for "free" education in private schools. The government claims that it will pick up the tab for the tuition fees for these children. However, the fact is that the government only promises to provide “vouchers” to poor children equivalent to the admission fees of government schools. Do Mr. Sibal and the MHRD seriously believe that the fees in private schools and government schools are in any way comparable? Also, how will these children from poor families pay ‘picnic’ fees, textbook ‘fees’, sports ‘fees’ and other such expenses that private schools regularly extort?
Ø Even if poor students manage to survive until Class 8, what will happen after this, when the government stops paying their fees? These children will be out on the streets once more, while those of their classmates who could pay the exorbitant fees, will pass Class 12 and go on to enter the hallowed portals of IITs, IIMs or prestigious foreign universities. There is one answer to all these complexities — a Common Schooling System where every school [including the private schools] will be a neighbourhood school. But it is this one solution that all the torturous provisions of the bill could not come close to. The RTE is completely silent on this crucial question.
Ø The RTE is nothing but a blatant attempt of the UPA government to shirk its responsibility to provide universal, affordable and quality education. Instead of handing over education to private schools, shouldn’t the state be working to set up better government schools? We all know how the rising fees of private schools is putting a strain even on middle class budgets. The recent agitations in Delhi against the obscene fees charged by private schools is proof enough.
Ø This is not the first time that the "free" schooling has been promised - residents of Delhi are well aware that private schools in the city were provided land practically free of cost by the government, in return for which supposed to give "free" education to poor children. Exactly how many poor children are able to access these elite facilities is there for anyone to see.
Ø What is also worth noting is the near-consensus in the parliament to support the farce that the UPA is peddling in the name of “Right to Education”.

In both the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha, the RTE was passed unanimously with no opposition whatsoever. The RTE in its present form has several fundamental, structural problems and ambiguities that shelve it of any potential to really provide fundamental right to education as mandated by our constitution and the landmark 1993 Unnikrishnan judgment of the Supreme Court. What is shocking is that the UPA as well as the NDA government before it are trying their level best to undermine and restrict the scope of the landmark Unnikrishnan judgment of the Supreme Court and the fundamental right of education underlined in the constitution under the garb of this "Right to Education Bill".

The farcical Right to Education Bill however is just part of the larger package of commercialisation and privatization that the UPA government has in store. 100-day agenda announced by the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD). Kapil Sibal has promised ‘radical’ reforms in the country’s education system. As you are well aware, the ‘reforms’ in education which the MHRD is advocating are nothing new. They are but a ruse for the government to escape its responsibility towards education and deliver it entirely into private hands. More than a decade of anti-privatization struggles by students have forced Governments to change their vocabulary; to ‘dress up’ their privatization-commercialization agenda in a grand cloak of ‘reform’.

It is in the context of the UPA government's covert plans to sell out our education system to the private sector in bits and pieces that the All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) and AISA are organizing a Public Hearing on 7th August 2009 (Friday) at Jantar Mantar from 11 am onwards. This pubic hearing will be attended by a wide cross section of society - intellectuals, teachers, students, and residents of Delhi from different sections of society.

We request you to attend the programme.

Ravi Rai, National General Secretary, AISA

Warm regards,
Subhash Chandra Vashishth
Advocate-Disability Rights
Mobile: +91 (11) 9811125521

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dear Friends,

Through 93rd Constitution Amendment in 2001, the Indian Parliament had made the right to education a fundamental right, but it took the Central Government over eight years for all stake-holders to agree to an enabling legislation --- the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2008, known simply as the Right to Education Bill.

The Rajya Sabha on Monday unanimously passed the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2008, making it obligatory for the government to provide free and compulsory education to every child in India between the ages of six and 14 years.

The Bill now is all set to go to the Lok Sabha. I am surprised that in a country like India, it takes 8 eight years to pass an enactment to ensure a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution. Is it because it was brought out by the then NDA Govt? And that had this been done earlier, the credit would have gone to the NDA & BJP? Such enabling legislation should be above party politics and loosing out on such opportunities can only be detrimental to the growth of the nation. Rightly says the Human resources development minister Kapil Sibal, "We are sitting on a great opportunity. We need to grasp it. If we lose it, the consequences will be disastrous."

Highlights of the bill
  • 25% seats to weaker sections
  • Does away with capitation fees charged by pvt schools before admisison.
  • No screening procedure of child or parent for admisison.
  • Creation of Child Right panel to look into grievance of parents against schools.
Its importance for a child with disability
Once parliament passes it will be a fundamental right of the child and any impediment like finance or procedures etc can be of no significance. However, as disability rights activists, we need to look at it from the perspective of education of chidren with disabilities in an non-exclusionary and inclusive set up with appropriate reasonable accommodation to provide a congenial atmoshphere for studies and learning.

Click here to read from source Hindustan Times

RS approves Right to Education Bill

A Bill providing for free and compulsory education as a fundamental right of children in the 6-14 age group – a flagship programmes in the 100-day agenda of the UPA government – was passed by Rajya Sabha on Monday.

The Parliament had made the right to education a fundamental right through the 93rd Constitution Amendment in 2001 but it took the Central government over eight years for all stake-holders to agree to an enabling legislation --- the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2008, known simply as the Right to Education Bill.

The Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha in December 2008 and referred to a parliamentary standing committee. It was taken up for discussion after the government had examined the committee’s report.

The Bill earmarks 25 per cent seats to weaker sections in schools, seeks to do away with the practice of schools taking capitation fees before admission, subjecting the child or parents to a screening procedure and giving powers to child rights panels to look into grievances of parents against schools.

On reservation in schools, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said it would be up to the states to implement the policy of reservation in admissions. School education is a state subject.

The ministry estimated that Rs 2.28 lakh crore would be required in the next seven years to implement the Constitutional obligation.
Responding to members’ concern on the financial requirement, Sibal said a group was on the job and would provide inputs to the 13th Finance Commission before completion of its term in October this year.

“Once Parliament passes it, it will be a fundamental right of the child. There is no way in the world that we will not have finances,” Sibal said.