Q. Why is it in News?
A. Recently, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has criticised the Rajasthan government for its new guidelines on elementary education.
Rajasthan’s Department of School Education issued guidelines stating that admissions to private schools under the RTE Act, 2009 for the 2020-21 academic year would take place only from class 1 or above, excluding pre-schoolers (children in the nursery).
The guidelines recommend the age of admission to be “5 years or above but less than 7 years as of 31st March 2020”.
Q. What are the issues with new guidelines?
- The new guidelines violate the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009.
- They deny children from economically weaker sections the right to free education in nursery classes.
- These guidelines are violative of the RTE Act 2009 which states that at least 25% strength of a class in private schools should consist of children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups.
- The guidelines only allow children less than 7 years but the RTE Act allows “male or female child of the age of six to fourteen years” for admission.
Q. What has been reaction of NCPCR in this?
A. It recommended the state to re-examine the guidelines in light of the Act and make necessary changes so that there is no loss of education to children.
Q. What is National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and when was it established?
A. It is a statutory body set up in March 2007 under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005. It is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
Q. What is its Mandate?
To ensure that all laws, policies, programmes and administrative mechanisms are in consonance with the child rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989.
Q. What are Powers of NCPCR?
- It monitors the implementation of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
- It can inquire into complaints about violation of the law and can summon an individual, demand evidence, seek a magisterial enquiry.
Q. What is the Constitutional Background of RTE Act?
- Part IV of Indian Constitution, Article 45 and Article 39 (f) of Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP), has a provision for state-funded as well as equitable and accessible education.
- The first official document on the Right to Education was the Ramamurti Committee Report in 1990.
- In Unnikrishnan JP vs State of Andhra Pradesh & Others, 1993 the Supreme Court held that education is a fundamental right flowing from Article 21.
- Tapas Majumdar Committee (1999) was set up, which encompassed the insertion of Article 21-A.
- The 86th amendment to the constitution of India in 2002, provided Right to Education as a fundamental right in Part III of the Constitution.
- It inserted Article 21-A which made Right to Education a fundamental right for children between 6-14 years.
- It provided for follow-up legislation for the Right to Education Bill 2008 which became an Act in 2009.
Q What are various features of RTE Act?
- It aims to provide primary education to all children aged 6 to 14 years and enforces education as a Fundamental Right (Article 21).
- The act mandates 25% reservation for disadvantaged sections of the society where disadvantaged groups include: Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), Socially Backward Class, Differently-abled, Children Related Provisions:
- It makes provisions for a non-admitted child to be admitted to an age-appropriate class.
- It had a clause for ‘No Detention Policy’ which has been removed under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Act, 2019.
- It focuses on making the child free of fear, trauma and anxiety through a system of child-friendly and child-centred learning.
Teachers Related Provisions:
- It provides for prohibition of deployment of teachers for non-educational work, other than decennial census, elections to a local authority, state legislatures and parliament and disaster relief.
- It provides for the appointment of teachers with the requisite entry and academic qualifications.
- It also talks about the sharing of financial and other responsibilities between the Central and State Governments.
- It lays down the norms and standards related to: Pupil-Teacher Ratios (PTRs), Buildings and infrastructure, School-working days, Teacher-working hours.
- Physical punishment and mental harassment.
- Screening procedures for admission of children.
- Capitation fee.
- Private tuition by teachers.
- Running of schools without recognition.
Q. What can be the way forward so as to prevent similar instances of violation of RTE Act by state governments?
- It has been more than ten years since the implementation of the RTE Act, but it can be seen that it still has a long way to go to be called successful in its purpose. Creation of a conducive atmosphere and supply of resources would pave the way for a better future for individuals as well as the nation as a whole