November 28, 2011

RTE rules empower parents, with principal rider

NEW DELHI: Parents of schoolchildren and community members have been guaranteed a say in the running of city government and aided schools till Class VIII in the recently notified rules under the Right to Education Act. However, the same guideline has also made the principal of a school chairman of its managing committee, negating the guardians' power to a great extent, say parents and activists.

While 75% of the committee members will come from among guardians and community members, "making the principal its chairman is a step backward. Barring Andhra Pradesh, all states have implemented this provision with the principal being the convener of the committee and the chairman from among the parents. Even the central RTE Act also stated the same," said an official of the All India Parents' Association.

But the Delhi government's rules, notified on and enforced from November 23 under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, have many positives as well.

Besides talking elaborately on the composition and the responsibilities of the managing committee, the guideline has also taken the Right to Education beyond the elementary classes (till Class VIII), envisaged composite schools and inclusive education with special provisions for differently abled children.

According to the rules, the cost of education of the students from economically weaker section (EWS) will be reimbursed up to Class XII in private schools that have received government land at a concessional rate. This will mean that 384 private schools in Delhi will have to continue the education of the EWS category students beyond the elementary-education level.

"As per the Delhi Government rules based on a Delhi high court order, the private schools that have received land at concessional rate will have to admit 20% students from the EWS category and bear the cost of their education. As per the RTE Act, the schools need to admit 25% students under the EWS category. The new rules notified by the Directorate of Education, Delhi, stated these students will continue to study in the same school till Class XII. As the cost of education of 20% of these students is to be borne by the schools, the government will reimburse only 5% of these EWS students," said advocate-activist Ashok Agarwal.

Inclusive education has also received a boost with provisions for appropriate and free transport for disabled students till Class VIII in all government and aided schools. The rules specify that the government or the local authority will make appropriate and free transportation arrangements for these children.

The guideline also envisages composite schools so that a student can continue in the same school till at least the completion of elementary education. Hence, the government will upgrade schools having classes till V while those starting from Class VI will add the classes below it. "This will help curtail dropouts as the students will not have to shift schools mid-way," said Agarwal.

November 2, 2011

Parents protest against “smart class” programme

Parents of several students of St. Lawrence Convent School in Geeta Colony here have complained to the State Education Department asking for its intervention to stop what they claimed to be “serious psychological violence on hundreds of innocent children” by the school authorities in the guise of “smart class.''

Parents under the All India Parents' Association banner also met senior education officials this past week asking them to look into the matter. All India Parents' Association national president Mr. Ashok Agarwal said: “The school has increased the fees in the mid-session in the guise of smart class in clear violation of Section 17 of the Delhi School Education Act, 1973, as the school has not obtained prior permission from the Directorate of Education for increasing the fees. Moreover, when the parents objected to the illegal action of the school, the school resorted to discriminate their wards by separating their classes. Even 41 economically weaker section students were not spared by the school as they were declined the facility of educomp.''

No response
“We have tried to speak to the school authorities on the issue but there has been no positive response from them. The school authorities are harassing the students and if no immediate action is taken to check it would leave a permanent scar on the innocent minds,'' said a parent.

“The school has implemented a new "smart class" programme and is charging Rs.400 per month per student. And from mid-October onwards the school authorities have divided students as ‘educomp students' and ‘non-educomp students' which means that students who have not paid for the "smart class" are not allowed to sit with their classmates for merely Rs. 400. This is despite the fact that all students have already paid their quarterly school fee. We want the education authorities to intervene on the behalf of the parents as the school has refused to listen to our plea,'' added another parent.

The school authorities have refused to comment on the issue.