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Govt. contemplating amendments in Right to Education Act?

Thursday, July 15, 2010 05:35:46 PM, Staff Reporter

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Malegaon: If the reports published in part of the media are to be believed, the government is considering crucial amendments in the Right to Education Act (RTE) whereby Madrasa education would be brought in the ambit of the Act and schools would be given right to screen and select students as per their quality standard.

Ever since the RTE Act was enforced in April 2010, Muslim organizations were demanding amendments saying, the education imparted in Madaris does not fit into the education that the RTE Act defines. Instead, the RTE Act makes Madrasa education a punishable offence. Muslim leaders were also of the view that the stipulation under the RTE Act requiring all educational institutions to acquire recognition -- which by implication will include Madaris -- is against Article 30 of the Constitution which gives minority communities freedom to set up and run their own institutions.

According to the Time of India, the first round of amendment in RTE is already with the parliamentary standing committee. The amendments also pertain to giving an advisory role to the School Management Committee (SMC) in minority educational institutions and widening the scope of 'child with disability' so that it includes those suffering from autism, celebral palsy, mental retardation and other disabilities.

The government is also seized of another amendment; the one that seeks to give SMCs an advisory role in all aided schools. This amendment was suggested by Kerala politicians who said letting minority schools have SMCs in an advisory role and not giving the same privilege to aided schools will put the latter in a disadvantageous position.

Moreover, the "admission-as-an entitlement" provision will be limited to only the poor children in the neighbourhood and seats for them will be pegged at 25%. It means schools will continue to have the right to screen 75% of the admissions, in a major amendment that has been prompted by sustained lobbying by private schools. Public schools across the country were up in arms, insisting that the no screening clause could seriously affect their quality.

Section 13 of RTE Act not only bans screening but also fixes a penalty of Rs 25,000 on a school for first contravention and Rs 50,000 for each subsequent contravention.

Schools as well as state governments are also agitated about the no-detention provision – which guarantees automatic promotion to the next class irrespective of a student's performance -- in the law and are demanding a change.

"There are practical problems with no-screening. How will schools like Doon, Mayo, Modern and others give random admission to children? Therefore, I have suggested that while schools will not screen 25% of poor children in the neighbourhood who have to be taken, 75% will go through the screening system that the school already has in place”, Times of India quoted HRD Minister Kapil Sibal as saying.

Pointing out that even Navodaya Vidyalayas did screening, Sibal said a practical solution was needed to implement important legislation like the RTE Act.




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