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)

Huge gaps in implementing RTE: CRY

Even three years after the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act was implemented, many government schools still have huge infrastructural gaps, a report by an NGO said Wednesday.

According to a survey by Child Rights and You (CRY), 11 percent of government schools did not have toilets, only 18 percent had separate washrooms for girls and boys and 34 percent of them were in a very bad condition or were unusable.

The survey was conducted in 642 schools across 13 states and 71 districts.

“Although RTE clearly signifies separate toilets for girls and boys, there is no provision for this, which results in a lot of inconvenience. In certain schools, toilets don’t even have doors or water,” said CRY chief executive Puja Marwaha.

The findings also indicated that only 13 percent of the schools provided “age appropriate admission”. Although not required by the RTE Act, proof of age was asked for in 61 percent schools and was mandatory in 47 percent of institutions.

“Many school headmasters and principals are not aware of the provisions of the RTE. The Act clearly indicates that no child can be denied admission for lack of their age proof. Even then, 46 percent schools ask for transfer certificates from children and 47 percent schools ask for proof of age, which is a huge barrier for migrant children,” Marwaha said.

The report also indicates that only 35 percent of teachers in primary schools had passed Class 12 or had a diploma in education and 56 percent were graduates or post-graduates. Only 37 percent upper primary teachers had passed Class 12 or had a diploma in education.

“The report indicates that most of the teachers are not qualified. Most of them prepare mid-day meals. They cook instead of teaching,” she said.

“We will submit the findings of our report to the Ministry of Human Resource Development as one cannot expect children to study in a school without basic infrastructure like safe classrooms, clean drinking water and functioning toilets,” Marwaha added.

(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.”

Forced implementation of RTE: NCPCR seeks report from Karnataka govt

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has asked the Karnataka government to submit a report following allegations that four students from economically weaker section (EWS) were humiliated in a prominent Bangalore school in a bid to implement RTE.

 Taking suo motu cognisance of a media report, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) directed Karnataka education secretary (Primary and Secondary Education) to get the matter investigated and take further necessary action. The commission has also sought an action taken report (ATR).

 Parents of the students of Class I admitted under 25 per cent quota under Right to Education Act in the Bangalore school have alleged that the children were humiliated and discriminated against.

 The mother of one of the children has alleged that the school did not take any action after she brought to its notice the incident of her daughter’s classmate cutting tufts of her hair.

 The NCPCR on Wednesday asked the secretary to provide to it details of alleged victimisation accorded to the students and to initiate necessary action against the concerned school authority and other functionaries, if found guilty.

 It also instructed the secretary to ensure that the children got immediate counselling at state cost.

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.

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

Over a lakh children in Delhi still out of school

More than one lakh children in the national capital are still out of school, a report by the human resource development ministry said as the Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act completed a year Friday since its implementation.

The RTE report card which analysed the primary education scenario in the country was released especially for the occasion.

According to the report, 1,24,022 children in the age group of six to 14 were out of school in Delhi, as per a survey in 2009. Across the country, the out-of-school children figure stands at 81,50,619.

“It’s unfortunate that 81,50,619 children in the age group of six to 14 are still out of school. We have to bring all those children to school,” Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said while releasing the report.

On a positive note however, Delhi has scored quite well in other parameters.

For instance, as compared to national figure of pupil-teacher ratio of 32, in Delhi the ratio is 28. Then, at the national level the percentage of teachers without professional qualification is 21, but in Delhi it stands at one.

Water drinking facility is present in 100 percent schools in Delhi. 79 percent schools here have girls toilets, 71 percent schools have ramps for disadvantaged students, 75 percent schools have playground and 98 percent have boundary walls.

Delhi is one of the 11 states which have constituted a state commission to monitor implementation of the RTE Act. Notification of the state rules however is still “in process”, the report said.

A total of 16,84,425 students have been enroled in the primary level in Delhi and 9,82,164 in the upper primary level. Delhi has 3,034 government and aided schools and has 57,777 teachers in these schools.

Nearly 12,000 Right to Education violations in Delhi

Since its implementation almost a year ago, nearly 12,000 cases of violation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act have been registered in the capital by a child rights body. There were cases of corporal punishment, denial under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota and mental harassment among others.

Amod Kanth, chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR), said the body had registered a total of 11,725 cases pertaining to violation of the RTE Act in Delhi until February this year.

‘As per the RTE Act, DCPCR monitors its implementation in Delhi. We have registered cases which involve violations of at least 20 kinds, like screening tests before admissions, corporal punishment, admission denial, mental harassment and others,’ Kanth told .

The RTE Act, implemented April 1, 2010, promises free and compulsory education to children between ages six and 14. Among other things it says no child shall be denied admission for lack of documents or if the admission cycle in the school is over. Disabled students should also be enrolled in mainstream schools.

Also, while the provisions of the RTE Act are applicable for kids up to Class 8, the Delhi government wants to extend its scope till Class 12.

Complaints are pouring in.

‘Initially, we had taken suo motu cognisance of media reports, but gradually parents started approaching us and now it seems like the floodgates have opened. Wherever required, we approach the school authority concerned and the compliance level is as high as 95 percent,’ Kanth said.

While the nature of violation is varied, most of the complaints coming to the DCPCR are denial of benefit of EWS quota. Schools are supposed to reserve 25 percent of its seats for economically weak sections of society.

‘Complaints to do with the EWS quota are the highest and pertain to private schools. For example, last month the father of an eight-year-old approached us after his child was denied the benefit of freeship under the EWS category. They were not well-to-do and the man had to sell off everything because of a crisis,’ a DCPCR official said.

The case was resolved after the commission intervened and issued a notice to the school.

‘Then again, there were complaints that after obtaining registration form free of cost, parents were not invited to witness the draw of lots under the EWS category. Taking cognisance of the matter, notices were issued against such schools,’ the official added.

Recognising education as a fundamental right of a child, the commission intervened when a public school in east Delhi threatened to expel a child over non-payment of his school fee.

‘Both the parents of Mayank Singh are in prison and there is no other earning member in the family. So issuing a notice over non-payment of fee was not just. We issued a notice to the school after which he was allowed to continue studying in the school free of cost,’ the official said.

The issue of corporal punishment was addressed in yet another case when a student of a reputed public school in Karol Bagh was beaten up by his mathematics teacher for not taking private tuition with him. After the commission’s intervention, the teacher, whose services were on a contract basis, was terminated.

There was also a case of molestation of a girl child in a government senior secondary school in Srinivaspuri in south Delhi. The commission issued a notice to the school, after which the education department conducted an inquiry. The charges were proved and both the erring teacher and the principal were suspended.

‘With the commission’s intervention, 3,216 children have been enrolled in schools in Delhi,’ Kanth said.

The main reason for these violations, Kanth said, is lack of awareness among teachers, school authorities and parents alike. To do its bit, the commission has been conducting awareness programmes for teachers and others on the RTE Act.

‘Teachers and schools have to realise that nearly half a million children in Delhi alone are out of school and most of them are homeless, working children and it is their responsibility to bring those children to school. Across the country, the number is nearly 60 million,’ he said.

‘The role of voluntary organisations is important in this, but it is not mentioned in the RTE Act,’ Kanth added.

‘It’s a good sign however that people are slowly becoming more aware of their rights under the RTE Act. And we can say that because the frequency of complaints has increased manifold,’ he said.