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Govt. to bring amendments in RTE Act: Kapil Sibal

Tuesday February 07, 2012 12:40:41 PM, Staff Reporter

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Malegaon: After the strong objections raised by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and other oragnisations against some sections of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, the government now plans to submit to the parliament during its budget session the draft amendment in the Act which has been approved by the union cabinet.


The amendments in the Right to Education Act so that the minority institutions are not affected have already been approved by the cabinet and the government is planning to submit them to the parliament during the budget session, Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said Saturday.


"The cabinet has already approved amendments in some of the sections in the Right to Education Act that can have negative impact on the Madrasa education system and also on the minority institutions. The government will be submitting them to the parliament during the budget session", Maulana Syed Mohammad Wali Rahmani quoted Kapil Sibal as saying.


The budget session of the parliament is scheduled in March.


All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is running a nationwide campaign since December last demanding amendments in the RTE Act. The AIMPLB asserts that some of the sections in the act are a blow to Madrasa education system and minority institutions.


Kapil Sibal promised bringing in the amendments in the RTE Act while addressing a public meeting called as part of the AIMPLB nationwide campaign in New Delhi on February 04.


The primary objection of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) against the RTE Act is its impact on the Madrasa Education and minority institutions. The RTE Act in section 17 (5) says that any person who establishes or runs a school without obtaining certificate of recognition would be liable to punishment. In section 18 (1) it says, 'no school, other than a school established, owned or controlled by the appropriate government or local authority, shall after the commencement of this act, be established or function, without obtaining a certificate of recognition from such authority'. Since the Madrasas and other minority institutions including Vedic pathshalas and gurukuls are normally not recognised by the government, the board believes that this clause in the RTE Act will have a direct impact on them and its immediate fallout would be their forceful closures.


The board also questions the conditions laid down in the act for obtaining recognition for new and existing schools. It feels that the required infrastructure and land as stated in sections 19 and 25 of the act is practically impossible for majority of the Minority Institutions as they are already running these institutes in challenging conditions.


The board feels that section 30 and the supporting clauses of the act which deal with elimination of the examination system and promotion of the students to higher standards even if they are irregular and absent from the classes are bound to have dire consequences on the education quality.


The board further questions section 17 of the act which states, 'No child shall be subjected to physical punishment or mental harassment'. The board feels that because of these sections the students would not only be lacking in competition spirit but they will also find them incapable of facing the board and competitive exams.


Moreover, the board feels, since the act is totally silent on the explanation of 'mental harassment', this particular section gives a dangerous tool in the hands of students and their parents to harass and take to the police station the school authorities on tiny issues.


The board also questions the very concept of 'Neighborhood School' as explained in the act. Opposition to this particular section of the act which makes it mandatory for the schools to reserve 25% admission seats for the 'children of the neighborhood' has also been expressed by private schools run by the top notch managements of the country.


The act in its original form had put the age limit of the students for compulsory education from 6 to 14. In the latest amendment in the act presented in the parliament during its ongoing session this age limit has been changed to 3-18. The concern of the board is that the act advises admission to schools of 'children' from this group on the basis of their age not on merit. The board feels, this implies that if a person because of his or her age is liable to admission in 10th standard, h/s should be given admission in that standard even if h/s has not attended a single class before. Imposing such thing, the board feels, will only create 'illiterate degree holders' in the country.    


The board also questions the structure of the school management committee as mentioned in the act. The board feels that formation of such a school committee with substantial representation of parents is particularly harmful for the schools located in backward areas and where students from same background take admissions.


Days after the AIMPLB decision to protest taken November 26, the union cabinet proposed exempting Madrasas and other minority institutions from the RTE Act. Earlier to this, the HRD Ministry had on January 15, 2010 issued guidelines in order to address some of these issues. The board however said that the cabinet decision or mere guidelines were not sufficient and demands permanent amendments in the act in the parliament.


Kapil Sibal's latest promise on the issue is expected to cool down the uneasiness among Muslims as regard to the impact of RTE Act on Madrasa and minority institutions.









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