HC reserves verdict on PIL for free books & uniform to EWS kids

The Delhi High Court on Thursday reserved its verdict on a PIL seeking grant of free books and uniform to children belong to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) category admitted to private unaided schools.

A bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Siddharth Mridul reserved its judgement after hearing arguments of the Directorate of Education (DoE), an association of private unaided schools and an NGO which filed the PIL.

NGO Social Jurist in its petition has sought directions to the schools to grant free books and uniform to children belonging to the EWS category.

The plea, filed through advocate Khagesh Jha, has claimed that private schools running on land given by government on concessional rates are obligated to provide such amenities along with free tuition and admission to children belonging to EWS and disadvantaged groups.

The schools have, however, claimed they do not provide books and uniform to any student as the same would fall under commercial activity, which they cannot carry out.

They have also submitted that Delhi government provided reimbursement only to schools which are built on private land and no such relief is given to those who have obtained land from the government at concessional or institutional rates.

They have also challenged section 12(2) of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which lays down how reimbursement is to be provided to schools which admit children belonging to EWS category.

The schools had argued that reimbursement should be provided on the basis of actual expenditure on uniforms, text books and writing material incurred by a fee-paying student in a private unaided school and not as per the amount spent by the government on a child in their schools and sought quashing of the provision.


Karnataka gets NHRC notice over vacant school seats

Taking note of seats reserved for poor students lying vacant in Karnataka schools, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Friday issued notice to the state government.

Accusing Karnataka of poorly implementing the Right to Education Act, the NHRC has sought a reply from the state’s chief secretary within four weeks.

“We have taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that 37,000 seats guaranteed for poor students were lying vacant in the schools of Karnataka due to poor implementation of Right to Education,” said the NHRC.

“The contents of the media report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of the Right to Education of the children belonging to weaker sections,” it added.

The seats are lying vacant as the children from weaker sections are reportedly being subjected to discrimination, it said.

(Source: IANS)

Children can’t assert rights, so fight for them: NCPCR chairperson

Children cannot fight for their own rights, so having laws protecting such rights is not enough, people need to be aware of them and fight for them, Kushal Singh, chairperson, NCPCR, said Friday.

Speaking at the 24th edition of the Tara Ali Baig Memorial Lecture organised by SOS Children’s Village here, Singh, who heads the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) said: “Sensitisation of the law on child rights among common people is necessary, still many are not aware of the laws pertaining to child rights. Knowledge of child rights should be widespread as the kids are vulnerable and cannot fight alone for their rights.”

Singh said the NCPCR was working to strengthen laws on child rights.

“We also have asked the government to expand the course of the child labour act to cover children up to the age of 18. Right now, it covers only children up to 14 years old. Children from 14 to 18 years old are also very vulnerable,” she said.

The Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act (CLPRA) should be brought in line with the Right to Education (RTE) Act, she said.

Singh said the right to education too should extend to children up to the age of 18. At present, the act covers children up to 14 years old.

Recalling the contribution of Tara Ali Baig, who headed the SOS Children’s Villages for 22 years from 1967 to her death in 1989, S. Sandilya, president of SOS Children’s Village said: “NGOs like us who are working for child rights are always looking forward for funds from European countries. Nearly 65 percent of our funds are from abroad and 35 percent is from India. If we have more funds from our country it will be more helpful.”

SOS Children’s Village is an international organisation which provides family-based care to children without parents all over world.

In India, there are 33 children’s villages, which provide shelter and family care to nearly 6,500 children.

(Source: IANS)

RTE: HC notice to DPS for not imparting quality education to poor students

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the central government and chairman of Delhi Public School (DPS) Society on a plea alleging that one of its schools had deprived poor students of quality education by ignoring the right to education (RTE) law.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice B D Ahmed and Justice Vibhu Bakhru also issued notice to the Delhi government and chief of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and sought their response by September 18.

The petition sought a direction to the society’s school in Noida to impart free and compulsory education to the poor students in accordance with RTE law.

The petition was filed by a group of parents of poor students of DPS sector 30 Noida.

The parents alleged that the school had segregated the poor students from the classes held for other children.

The plea alleged that the poor students were discriminated against from others on issue of text books, uniforms, library facilities and extra curricular activities.

“The school played a fraud on the petitioners to deprive their wards of quality education by totally ignoring the mandate of the RTE act that children from disadvantaged and weaker sections admitted for free education are to be provided same quality education by providing infrastructure and compliance with specific norms and standard in the school as for other students in the class,” the plea said.

Separate classes for the poor students were being held after 2 p.m., old torn books were given to them and one book was to be shared between three-four students, it alleged. The plea said that contrary to the mandate of the law the school was charging monthly fee.

The petitioner said that a complaint was made to Noida police on February 2 and a representation was also given to the child rights panel on February 5, but nothing much had changed.

(Source: IANS)

No failure till Class VII under RTE, a myth

In a function of Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education’s auditorium here on Tuesday, State education minister Brij Kishore Sharma said, “It is a misconception that under right to education, no student will be allowed to fail up to Class VII. The fact is that teachers are instructed to evaluate the student’s everyday activities – from coming to school on time to behaving in class – and prepare a monthly report on it. This will not only give the right perspective of their academic development but also show their personality improvement.”

RTE: 95% schools don’t comply with RTE guidelines

Right to free education is a dream of every welfare state, India took initiative in this regard by introducing RTE but it appears that it is still a dream. Two years have been passed since the Right to Education came into existence but its goal is still unfulfilled more than 95 per cent of schools in the country do not comply with its guidelines, a research by an NGO has found.

Data compiled by RTE forum with inputs from its members from across the country points out that only one out of 10 schools in 2010-11 had drinking water facilities, while two out of every five schools lacked a functional toilet.

The report also shows lack of training facilities for teachers, adversely affecting the quality of primary education in India.

Nearly 36 per cent of all sanctioned posts of teachers in the country are lying vacant. Of this, the national capital alone accounts for 21,000 vacancies, while 1,000 posts are vacant in Odisha, RTE forum’s report says.

The guidelines under the RTE act specify that schools “established, owned, controlled or substantially funded by the government or local authorities” must ensure that the vacancy of teachers “shall not exceed 10 per cent of the total sanctioned strength“.

The study also found teachers in Haryana being engaged in non-teaching activities like construction work or working as contractors in the mid-day meal programme.

“No teacher shall be deployed for any non-educational purpose other than the decennial population census, disaster relief duties or duties relating to elections to the local authority or the state legislature or parliament,” according to the guidelines of the RTE act.

The data shows that the national average for pupil to teacher ratio is worryingly high at 1:80, against the prescribed ratio of 1:30 for primary and 1:35 for upper primary level under the act.

There is an urgent need to mobilise people who can demand that the government do its part in implementing the act. As a civil society organisation, we will create awareness among people and monitor the implementation of the act,” convener of RTE forum Ambarish Rai said.

All educational institutions under RTE: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court today held that the fundamental Right to Education covers all educational institutions including government controlled, private unaided schools and minority institutions.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar also ruled that the private unaided schools will have to provide 25 per cent seats to students belonging to the weaker sections of the society since it is the main condition on the basis of which these educational institutions are alloted land at highly concessional rates.

With today’s ruling, the highest court of the country has ruled that no educational institution in the country is out of the ambit of Right to Education.



Supreme Court upholds seats for poor under Right to Education

The Supreme Court Thursday upheld the constitutional validity of the right to education (RTE) act that mandates unaided private schools to keep 25 percent seats for students from economically and socially weaker sections of society.

However, the court made it clear that this quota would not be applicable to unaided minority institutions.

The apex court bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justice Swatanter Kumar upheld the constitutional validity of Section 12 1C of the RTE act that provides 25 percent reservation for students from weaker sections of society.

However, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan, in a dissenting judgment, held that the mandate under RTE providing for reservation of seats was not constitutionally valid, thus none of the unaided schools, be it majority or minority, could be compelled to earmark 25 percent seats in their institutions for weaker sections.

The court said the judgment will come into force from Thursday itself, but the admissions already made will not be disturbed.

The Supreme Court was giving its verdict on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the RTE law that requires private schools to earmark 25 percent seats for poorer students.

A batch of petitions by the Society for Unaided Private Schools, Independent Schools Federation of India and others had contested the provision in the law under which they had to reserve 25 percent seats for economically weaker sections in their schools.

The schools contended that the reservation for children from vulnerable sections of society violated their right to run educational institutions without the state’s interference.

The schools’ contention that the reservation for poor students would drain their resources was contested by the government.



Corporal punishment must be abolished: Child rights panel

India’s child rights panel on Monday stressed the need to eliminate all forms of corporal punishment practiced in the name of disciplining a child.

“We need to understand that children, like adults, too have a mind of their own and they do not enjoy having an unequal relationship. Therefore, any kind of domination of children by adults is unacceptable,” said National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) chairperson Shantha Sinha.

She also emphasized the need for different stakeholders to engage positively with children.

Sinha was speaking at the discussion forum on the report of Working Group of NCPCR on Guidelines for Eliminating Corporal Punishment in schools under section 17 of the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

The discussion also stressed the need for institutional reform and humanizing school campuses so that they become healing spaces for children

Supreme Court reserves verdict on right to education

The Supreme Court Wednesday reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions by private schools challenging the right to education law that mandates them to earmark 25 percent seats for poor students.

The apex court bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice K.S. Panicker Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar reserved the verdict after the conclusion of the hearing in which un-aided private schools contended that reservation of 25 percent seats for poor children violated the educational institutions’ right to operate without state interference.

During the hearing, spread over many weeks, the court told the petitioners that the provision for earmarking 25 percent seats for poor children should not be viewed as some kind of reservation but as an attempt to impart education to all.

The private schools contended that compulsory enrolment of 25 percent poor students would cripple them financially.

The central government countered saying that private schools would be reimbursed money they would spend on the poor students.The apex court said that for such a public-private partnership (PPP) to succeed there had to be a viable formula.

The court also chided the government for allocating less money for the education sector as compared to other countries.

In one of the hearings, Chief Justice Kapadia said: “You (government) are spending so much. You must spend for strengthening these schools.”

He went on to say that in South Africa they spend 7 percent of the GDP on education, yet they were facing problems because of the high costs of education and they were opting for the PPP route.

The court had also expressed its reservation on the provision of the law that eliminates examination for students up to Class 8.

Chief Justice Kapadia said that one area that was bothering the court was the elimination of examination for students up to Class 8. There should be some system of assessment before a student was promoted to the next class.