Showing posts with label right to education of disabled children. Show all posts
Showing posts with label right to education of disabled children. Show all posts

Friday, January 29, 2016

Despite a good progress 34% Indian children with disabilities (6-14 yrs) are still out of school : UN Report

In India, high percentage of kids with disabilities still out of school: UN

United Nations: India has been able to decrease its number of out-of-school children by nearly 16 million between 2000 and 2012, driving the progress in South Asia, but it still has 1.4 million children not attending primary school, a United Nations report said.

The majority, 31 million of the 58 million out-of-school children, were girls. India has 58.81 million girls and 63.71 million boys of primary school age. As of 2011, 1.4 million children of primary school age did not go to school in India, with 18 percent girls out of school and 14 percent boys.

The report said that while India has made significant improvement in primary education enrolment, the figures for children with disabilities are staggering. Out of 2.9 million children with disabilities in India, 990,000 children aged 6 to 14 years (34 percent) are out of school.

The percentages are even higher among children with intellectual disabilities (48 percent), speech impairments (36 percent) and multiple disabilities (59 percent).

"India has made tremendous efforts to make its education system more inclusive. Under the Right to Education Act, all children have the right to go to school...To accommodate a greater number of children with disabilities, further progress is needed," it said.

The biggest decrease in the number of out-of-school children was seen in South Asia, where their numbers fell by 23 million between 2000 and 2012, according to a new joint report 'Fixing the Broken Promise of Education for All: Findings from the Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children was produced by UNESCO and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF)'.

Much of the global progress since 2000 in decreasing the number of out-of-school children has been driven by a small number of countries, with India alone decreasing its number of out-of-school children by nearly 16 million between 2000 and 2011.

In relative terms, 42 countries were able to more than halve their numbers of primary out-of-school children between 2000 and 2012, including Algeria, Burundi, Cambodia, Ghana, India, Iran, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Viet Nam, Yemen and Zambia.

However, despite such impressive progress in many countries, about nine percent of all children of primary school age worldwide, which accounts for eight percent of all boys and 10 percent of all girls, were still out of school in 2012.

The other countries with more than half a million out-of-school children include Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Pakistan and Sudan. India had 14 percent of children in the 7-14 years age category involved in child labour.

The report credited initiatives such as abolition of school fees, cash transfer programmes and school feeding programmes in ensuring more children attend and stay in school.

The largest school feeding was implemented in India with 120 million school children benefiting by 2006 and has been credited with a significant positive effect on both school enrolment and attendance rates.

The report further said that one in five adolescents worldwide is not in school, which means that some 63 million young people between the ages of 12 and 15 are denied their right to an education, mainly because they are marginalized and poor, the joint UN agency report said as pressure mounts to include universal secondary education in the post-2015 global development agenda.

"This report serves as wake-up call to mobilize the resources needed to guarantee basic education for every child, once and for all," UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova said.

The data found that as children get older, the risk that they will never start school or will drop out increases. One in ten children of primary school age is out of school compared to one in five adolescents. The study also found that in total, 121 million children and adolescents have either never started school or dropped out despite the international community's promise to achieve Education for All by 2015.

The report added that "business as usual" has not worked and there has been almost no progress in reducing the number of adolescents out of school since 2007. Children living in conflict, child labourers and those facing discrimination are most affected. And without major shifts in policies and resources, previous education gains may erode.

"If current trends continue, 25 million children, 15 million girls and 10 million boys, are likely to never set foot inside a classroom," it said. For a concrete policy shift, the study calls on governments to provide robust information on marginalised children.

Source: PTI

Thursday, February 13, 2014

NCERT Study reveals RTE has failed to meet disabled children's needs

This study shared by NCERT and published by Indian Express reveals serious lapses in the implementation of RTE across the country.

RTE has failed to enable the disabled: Study

Written by Anubhuti Vishnoi | New Delhi | January 27, 2014 1:58 am

Three years after the RTE Act came into effect promising free and compulsory education to children aged six to 14 years and special focus on admission and retention of children with disabilities, an NCERT study has found that disabled children in schools across states still face serious infrastructure and pedagogy handicaps.
Apart from absence of ramps and friendly toilets in schools, the larger problem that almost all disabled children face in the classroom is the absence of special teaching material and sensitive trained teachers.
In Gujarat’s Kheda district, a child with locomotor disability said he never leaves his wheelchair due to non-availability of a friendly toilet in his school.

The NCERT report — ‘Status of Implementation of RTE Act in context of disadvantaged children at elementary stage’ — says that “poor infrastructure, non-availability of appropriate furniture for children with disabilities, non-availability of special aids and appliances, poor quality of aids and appliances for children with locomotor disabilities are major challenges in the fulfilment of RTE to these children”.

The study adds that “educational materials for children with disabilities were non-existent in most sample schools. States/ UTs have very limited vision of arranging different types of educational materials for children with various disabilities”.

The 2012-13 study on children with disabilities had revealed that while 99 per cent of these children liked attending regular schools but 57 per cent of teachers were not trained to understand their special needs.
The study was conducted by the NCERT’s department of elementary education in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Jharkhand, Orissa, Gujarat, Uttarakhand and the Union Territories of Puducherry and Andaman & Nicobar islands through questionnaires and interviews with school teachers, parents of disabled children and disabled students.
Respondents in Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts said there were no Braille books, no assistive devices, no educational materials and no full-time special teachers making it extremely difficult to ensure RTE to children with visual impairments. In Visakhapatnam district, ramps and friendly toilets for children with locomotors disabilities were not appropriate.

Almost all respondents in Almora district of Uttarakhand said their schools did not have facilities and the hilly terrain further complicated their movements. In Orissa, the NCERT study says, there is unhappiness over poor quality of wheelchairs and non-supply of Braille aids despite repeated reminders.

“Wheelchairs and tricycles are supplied to children with locomotors disabilities, though these cannot be used by them due to difficult terrain in Almora district”.

“Special shoes are supplied after one year of assessment, resulting in inappropriate sizes due to growth of feet. Complaint was sent but no satisfactory action was taken,” respondents are quoted in the NCERT study.

In Kerala, children have not been provided teaching-learning materials individually despite the fact that the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has a provision for Rs 3,000 per disabled child per year.

The report notes that functionaries and teachers at state-, district- and block-levels were aware of provisions of the RTE Act to a great extent but “orientation of teachers for RTE (except in Orissa) did not include information about disadvantaged and children with disabilities”.

In Jharkhand, respondents pointed out how “there were no special teachers at school level to help children with disabilities; teachers have not been trained to teach children with disabilities; and parents do not bring their children with disabilities to school regularly”.

Sixteen of 25 head teachers/teachers in four districts of Gujarat maintained that it was extremely difficult to teach children with severe mental challenges and multiple disabilities in the classroom.

In Andhra Pradesh, teachers said that “it is difficult to ensure RTE to children with mental disabilities due to behaviour problems and very limited ability to learn. They maintained that these children should be sent to special schools. Respondents in Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts said there were no Braille books, no assistive devices, no educational materials and no full-time special teachers”.

The report notes that in Kerala “almost all respondents in both the districts said they encountered difficulties in teaching different categories of children with disabilities. They said that behaviour problem of children with mental disabilities (challenges) makes it difficult to manage classroom teaching. These teachers do not have any special training and they find themselves helpless in dealing with children with mental challenges. Two of the teachers said that in a class of 50 children, it is extremely difficult to pay attention to children with a mental challenge and they try to help these children by explaining to them personally”.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kolkata Teachers believe children with disabilities are careless, insincere, doubtful and rigid!

Teachers prejudiced against disabled kids, says Indian Statistical Institute study

Jayanta Gupta, TNN Oct 1, 2013, 04.35AM IST

KOLKATA: A study conducted among teachers in government- and government-aided schools in the city has revealed that most of them are prejudiced against pupils with disabilities.

According to the study, conducted by the Psychology Research Unit of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), a large number of teachers believe that children with disabilities are "careless", "insincere", "doubtful" and "rigid". So much for the government's initiative to promote inclusive education. A study conducted by the Psychology Research Unit of Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) in government and government-aided schools in Kolkata has revealed that a large number of teachers consider differently-abled children to be careless, insincere, doubtful and rigid.

The same teachers believe that children without special needs are "systematic", "confident", "sincere" and "responsive".

The research paper was presented at the Indian Science Congress with a view to impress upon the state government that our schools may still not be ready for inclusive education, which the government is trying to promote.

The study revealed some startling facts. "The most negative attitude towards children with disabililies was expressed by young teachers; those with postgraduate degrees; and those from high socio-economic backgrounds. Many of those who held this attitude have people with disabilities at home," said Sumana Dutta, a research scholar at ISI .

The institute collaborated with Bikashayan, an NGO, in carrying out the study.

To gauge the attitude of 1,472 teachers in Kolkata, researchers used what is known as a semantic differential scale. "In a semantic differential scale, respondents are asked to choose where his or her position lies, on a scale between two bipolar adjectives. This scale is used to measure opinions, attitudes and values," explained Dr Debdulal Dutta Roy, assistant professor of the Psychology Research Unit. In this case, some of the pairs of bipolar adjectives used were "careless and systematic", "insincere and sincere", "doubtful and confident" and "rigid and responsive". The questionnaire with 20 such bipolar adjectives was filled in by teachers, parents and administrative staff.

A complex statistical method known as "Principal Component Analysis with Varimax Rotation" was used to arrive at the results.

"We surveyed 1,829 people in all. While 1,472 were teachers, there were 262 parents and the remaining administrative staff. We noticed that the teachers had the most negative attitude. Teachers from north Kolkata had the worst attitude followed by those in the south and west," Dutta added.

According to Dutta Roy, who monitored the process, it was a surprise that some teachers who have children with disabilities also display this attitude. "This reveals that the teachers are not considering the limitations of a child with disabilities," said the executive council member of the International Association for Analytical Psychology. "The second part of the study revealed that most schools (government- and government-aided) don't have the infrastructure required for inclusive education. There is clearly a need for remedial teaching and psycho-educational teaching if inclusive education has to be successful. Maybe the teachers will need more training. For the moment, though, special schools can't be done away with."

In the second part of the survey, 293 schools were surveyed. It was found that 42% of these schools don't have their own drinking water facility. Resource rooms - remedial classrooms where students with special needs are given specialized assistanceare - absent in 95% of these schools. It was also found that 98% schools have no resource teachers.

"Though 98% schools consider a resource person beneficial, in more than 44% schools, such teachers pay just a single visit in a month. In 53% schools, the visit is just for an hour. More than 85% schools have untrained teachers. If there is a problem, how will these teachers react? The problem lies with the non-manipulative nature of our pedagogy. Things will have to be more manipulative if children are to receive proper education," Dutta Roy added.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Status of Education- 62 Special Educators for 18,000 children with disabilities in Delhi

Shikha Sharma : New Delhi, Thu Sep 05 2013, 

It has been four months since she went to school. Every time the 11-year-old turns up at her municipal school in Nehru Park, the principal sends her back, saying the school doesn't have special educators to teach her. The 11-year-old is a challenged child.
But she isn't the only one forced to stay at home because of a lack of specialist teachers. Her's is the story of more than 18,000 differently abled children studying in the city's many government and municipal schools, who, in the absence of special education teachers, are either not allowed to enter the schools or refused admission.

A report submitted by the Education department in the Delhi Assembly identified 18,000 such kids in 2009. The number of teachers qualified to teach these students, though, stands at only 62.

Around 250 teachers hired on contract under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA) were teaching in the city's many schools until May. But their contracts were not renewed once they expired. "So barring the 62 teachers engaged by the government recently, there are no teachers in both MCD and government schools now," said S C Bimal, component coordinator (special education), SSA.

In September 2009, the High Court, noting the serious paucity of special educators, directed the government and local bodies to ensure each school had at least two special educators within six months.

Following the order, the Delhi government created 927 permanent teacher posts in Directorate of Education (DoE) schools and 1,610 in MCD schools through the Delhi Subordinate State Services Board (DSSSB). But little seems to have come of it.

"For the 927 posts, 450 teachers were called for counselling and we are expecting some to join soon. With 62 guest teachers already working, the situation will improve as the second round of recruiting guest teachers and fresh recruitment of contract teachers is underway," said Amit Singla, Director, DoE.

"We have created 695 posts for special educators. As soon as the DSSSB recruits for these posts, we will fill them up," said Mukesh Yadav, PRO, South Delhi Municipal Corporation. Only nine out of 8,789 teachers shortlisted by DSSSB, though, have qualified for the job.

The quality of education, also, stands to question. "Where the Rehabilitation Council of India prescribes one teacher for every eight differently abled children, most teachers appointed on contract are given 20 schools to handle. Principals in most MCD schools refuse to admit children with disabilities. In some cases, we see a child only once a month. We may call them children with special needs but the truth is, they are the most ignored," said Ramgopal, a special educator working on contract.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quota in KV for children with Disabilities - Is it in line with Right to Education Act?

Dear Friends,

I often wonder whether in light of the new Right to Education Act, there is any merit to keep quotas in school education for the children with disability! If free and compulsory education it is a fundamental right of every child including those with disability and there are more students seeking admission than the quota fixed of 3%, will the KVs refuse admission to such students.

The KV has still not come out properly on the admission of children with disabilities and unecessarily making news for free education of disabled and setting up a quota for disabled means no sense to us.

Here is the news coverage:

Quota in KVs to be above class strength

NEW DELHI: Reservation in Kendriya Vidyalaya schools will be over and above the strength of a class. This was decided by the board of governors of the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) on Friday.

In fact, the earlier policy was not to let the class strength get affected while giving reservation. But this was amended a few months ago bringing the quota seats within the class strength. However, this created problems for children of central government employees. Since these employees are often transferred, they have to look for admission for their kids in new schools.

There are 17 types of reservation in KVS schools. As per the restored system, reservation will be given to students over and above the existing strength of a class in a central school. According to this system, each class will have 40 seats. But another five students can be given admission under reserved category. The students given admission under reserved category will be above the normal strength.

"The reserved students will not eat away the seats for general category students. The reservation will be above the existing class strength," an HRD ministry official said.

KVS has also put in place a new transfer policy under which those teachers will be given priority for getting transfer if their spouses are working in the school of their choice.

The KVS has also decided to set up one disabled friendly school in each of its 18 regions. These schools will have all facilities to help physically challenged students get education. Besides, teachers of Sanskrit can now switch over to Hindi by appearing in certain examination. This will open up promotional avenues for them, the official said.

Source: Times of India, 15 May 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

"UP has no fund to implement RTE Act" |

Dear Friends

I fail to understand, how a public representative - the Chief Minister of a State can say this, while poorer states like Assam have gone ahead with seal to implement the same.

It is loud and clear that while the Chief Minsiter has sufficient money to create her statutes and parks and also to develop a security force to protect the statutes created at the cost of public money, while she has no money to invest in children of her state and protect their fundamental right to compulsory and free education guaranteed by the Constitution of India!

Have such politicians any right to remain on the crucial posts they hold?

"UP has no fund to implement RTE Act"

SC Vashishth

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.

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.