Sunday, October 24, 2010

NCERT Expert Committee on RTE Act, 2009

Salient features of the recommendations (03.03.2010) of the NCERT expert committee headed by lawyer-activist Ashok Agarwal on Development of a Policy Framework for Implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education ACT 2009 in Schools in the NCT of Delhi

1. One Unified Body: All State provided School Education (MCD, NDMC, Cantonment Board, Govt.) should be administered by one unified body-i.e. Government of NCT of Delhi and its schools managed with due regard to decentralization of responsibility; this body should also accord approval to all proposed academic changes, such as of textbooks, pattern of evaluation, medium of instruction etc. It should also be referred to for closure of any school.

2. Convert Double Shift Schools into Single Shift :All double shift schools would need to be forthwith converted to single shift schools, with the teacher pupil ratios as specified in the Schedule. The distance and accessibility norms will have to be adhered to and arrangements made to address any cases of difficulty anticipated or experienced. Supplemental instructions to children, including children with disabilities who have been (age appropriately) enrolled in classrooms will have to be carefully monitored, (and arrangements created for the same) in order to ensure that teachers are child friendly, and the teaching learning environment remains free from anxiety.

3. Only Full Time Formal Schools: All alternative modes of education such as for example ‘bus schools’ and other para formal schools would have to be replaced by full time formal schools.

4. Change Mode of Admission in Pratibha Vikas Vidyalayas: The right of all children to equal opportunities at this stage would render the ‘Pratibha Vikas Vidyalayas’ and their mode of selective admission as contrary to the spirit of the Act, at least till the end of class eight.

5.. No Extra Fee from Children with Disabilities: The rights of equitable access to private schools will also have to be strictly monitored by the Government of NCT of Delhi in order to ensure that children with disabilities are not discriminated against in their access to the school, nor are their parents asked to pay more fees because they have ‘special needs’. Sample checking and research is recommended to ensure equal opportunities in all schools for children with disabilities.

6. Inclusive Education to Children with Disabilities: As per orders dated 10.09.2009 of the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in W.P.(C) No. 6771 of 2008 entitled Social Jurist, A Civil Rights Group vs. Govt. of NCT of Delhi, An Action Plan for education of children with disabilities was prepared. This committee recommends the implementation of the Action Plan for the implementation of the RTE. The needs of children with disabilities (Section 3) will need to be addressed through inclusive classrooms in accordance with the provisions laid down in Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities (2008) as ratified by the Government of India.

7. Appoint RTE Protection Officers: Posts of ten ‘attendance officers’ existed in the MCD and at one time were expected to deal with admission, and truancy in relation to compulsory education. Similar posts need to be created, and renamed for the implementation of the RTE. This committee also recommends that in view of the expansion of number of schools, and enrolment, the number of officers may be increased adequately. These posts may rightly be renamed as ‘Right to Education Protection Officers’ and as part of their duties they should:

§ constantly ‘walk their beat’ especially at construction sites, garbage dumping grounds, urban villages etc. looking for children who should be in school;

§ enable out of school children to secure admission;

§ coordinate between home and school for children

§ coordinate with community groups, especially mothers

§ ensure issuance of transfer certificates

§ respond to reports of violation of child rights

§ serve to support admission and retention of children in government and private schools

§ all tasks related to service as a ‘nodal officer’ for right to education

8. Road Marshals through Volunteers of NCC/ NSS/ Scouts etc. Delhi is a city state, and despite the best of planning, children will need to cross roads in order to reach schools, and in many places this is a risky exercise. Therefore, in order to literally facilitate access to schools, this committee recommends that traffic marshals be deployed at points at which children cross roads on the way to schools. Giving right of way to school goers will not only make the right to education ‘visible’, but will also give a new Delhi/ urban specific task to the NSS/ NCC volunteers to do. Coordination between school and the traffic police personnel is also recommended to ensure safety of the school going children.

9. Incentives for children identifying out of schoolchildren: It is recommended that children be used to search for and identify children who are for some reason not in school. An incentive of about Rs. 50/- could also be given to children who identify a child who could be brought to school.

10. Prohibit Closing of Schools: Govt of NCT of Delhi to deal in future to prevent extraneous reasons from operating to close down schools, or to resist encroachment of the school land for commercial purposes. (land in urban areas such as Delhi has high property value, and schools attended by the children belonging to economically weaker sections can fall prey to such designs). If for some reason, there are no children available to attend a particular school, then the school building shall be used for other purposes related to education only, such as for a residential camp for migrant children etc.

11. Supports for completion of EE: Schools should provide after school care and protection to children, especially girls, as one of the means of ensuring their continued attendance at school.

12. Pre-school education: Pre school arrangements need to be available either in schools or near to communities. Crèches and after school care arrangements required to be made to facilitate education of girls.

13. Appointment of heads of schools and Strengthening of SCERT and DIETs in Delhi:

a. Firstly, the selection of 75% of the heads of schools through direct selection processes, and only 25% through limited departmental examination.

b. The strengthening of the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) and DIETs in Delhi which will work towards the development of a cadre of educational management professionals for management of schools provided by the state. These institutions should also be engaged in full time policy research related to management of education in Delhi

14. EWS admission and support: The obligation of all private recognized schools stands at 25 per cent and the Delhi government is advised to ensure that the problems experienced in the past do not hamper the inclusion of the children of the EWS. The recommendations of the Krishna Kumar Committee and of the Janaki Rajan Committee, 2006 may be referred to in this regard, since they are all the more relevant, and it is imperative that a climate of ‘true inclusion’ is fostered in schools. Needless to say, it is expected that wide publicity shall be given to this provision, and rules shall be framed to enable, the eligible parents to take advantage of the choice offered to them.

15. Issuance of Birth certificates: Birth certification is a right of the child, and it is recommended that it be ensured that those children who enter state provided schools without a formal birth certificate are provided a certificate through the school. The government, if necessary, may bring amendment in the Birth and Death Registration Act thereby creating an obligation on the State to provide birth certificate to the school children without subjecting them to difficult procedure. This should be made a duty of the school. It also supports the UID project of the central government.

16. SMC, School Development Plan, capacity and information needs: The RTE Act 2009 mandate an SMC for each school at the elementary stage. In Delhi, there are no elementary schools. There are primary schools, or middle schools having classes 6-8, or composite schools having both primary and upper primary classes, and secondary schools having upper primary classes. Delhi will need to work out a mechanism to ensure that the children in classes 1 to 8 have the benefit of a school management committee and a school development plan prepared by the committee. The committee noted that Delhi will need to replace its nominated Vidyalaya Vikas Committees, at least at the elementary stage, with statutory School Management Committees having wide ranging powers.

17. Teachers’ salaries & Recognition of small schools: Protection of state salaries for teachers in private schools recognised under RTE Act and consideration in exceptional cases of grant in aid for payment of salaries of teachers. Where the neighbourhood Govt / MCD / NDMC School is witnessing declining enrolment, PTR lower than 1:30; this fact should be taken into consideration before giving recognition to another (unaided private) school within one km radius.

18. Leave substitute’ Teachers: The absence of a teacher violates the right of the child to education. Therefore, in order to ensure that a class is at no time deprived of a teacher, it is recommended that about 10% extra teachers are selected and placed on a reserve panel to be tapped whenever there is need for a substitute teacher.

19. Child line as in model rules to RTE: Again, in the model rules to the RTE Act 2009, this aspect has been dealt with and it was the view of the committee that a mechanism such as recommended in the model rules be adopted for Delhi. The system should be transparent and should enable cross check by NGOs, with Delhi legal services authority, by independent lawyers & by law colleges, in addition to the other safeguards provided. It is recommended that the model rules circulated by the MHRD in this regard be adopted by Delhi.

20. Awareness creation about rights against punishment and harassment: It is recommended that the model rules circulated by the MHRD in regards to a child helpline coupled with an alert and action mechanism be adopted by Delhi. Since this right relates to a school, and every school has a unique ID code number, it is suggested that the online mechanism should be linked using this unique ID code to the page of the school – so that all the details of the school are immediately at hand, and the complaints are recorded against a page related to the school. Linkage with NGOs, lawyers, legal services authority is also recommended. Discrimination, what constitutes discrimination in this context and Complaints mechanism should be given wide publicity

21. Part-Time Instructors: It is recommended that part-time instructors for art, music, health and physical education be also provided for the children of classes I to 5 in addition to the general teachers to develop potentiality, knowledge and talent.

22. Totally Free Education: No fee in any kind or form should be charged from the students of elementary school.

23. Government of NCT of Delhi may issue notification in terms of Section 1(d) bringing ‘children with disabilities’ within the ambit of “child belonging to disadvantaged group” as defined in Section 1(d) of the Act.

24. Information about Fees charged by Schools and salaries paid to its teachers should be placed in the public domain i.e. on the Delhi Schools website and also on the ‘school report card’ of each school

25. Unified Website: There needs to be a unified website for all state and state recognised schools in Delhi with School Report Cards and reporting on child progress on measures of continuous and comprehensive evaluation supplemented with remarks of the SMC. Information dissemination about RTE to children in schools and Child line as in Model Rules.

26 Orientation and Training of School Management Committees (SMCs) needs to be taken up as an ongoing exercise. This work could be shared among Community based voluntary organisations, SCERT, DIETs, universities and colleges (as part of their ‘extension’ responsibilities)

27. Girls Safety: Establishment of Police beats (with lady police constables) at girl schools to ensure safety and security to the girl students.

28. Exemption from Stamp Duty: Government of Delhi should exempt stamp duty on the affidavit regarding date of birth of the child to be submitted to the school for the purpose of admission.

29. HOS to Attest Affidavit: Government of Delhi should authorize head of the school to attest the affidavit regarding date of birth of the child to be submitted to the school for purpose of admission.


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