Saturday, July 31, 2010

Status and role of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights

Status and role of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights
15:3 IST

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights is a statutory body set up under the Provisions of Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005 to deal with all issues relating to child rights and make recommendations to the Government. NCPCR has dealt with 1474 complaints of violation of child rights as on 30/6/2010. There are six vacant posts of Member in the Commission as the term of two Members appointed earlier has ended. NCPCR has been sanctioned 36 posts and presently 12 officers/staff are in Position on deputation from various organizations. The recruitment rules are yet to be formulated by as NCPCR has been constituted only in 2007.

ection-17 of Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005 (CPCR Act, 2005) provides for setting up of State Commission for Protection of Child Rights. It is up to State Government to set up a State Commission. Eight States/UTs have so far constituted the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights which includes Assam, Delhi, Goa, Karnataka, Sikkim, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The Ministry of Women and Child Development and the National Commission For Protection of Child Rights have requested State Governments from time to time to set up State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights.

This information was given by Smt. Krishna Tirath, Minister of State for Women and Child Development (Independent Charge) in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha today.

Anganwadi food plan a flop among kids

Anganwadi food plan a flop among kids
Nirmala M Nagaraj, TNN, Jul 30, 2010, 11.52pm IST

BANGALORE: As per the National Family Health Survey findings, every second child under 5 years of age in Karnataka is malnourished and over 70% children aged below 6 are anaemic, contributing to high infant mortality rate.

Not surprisingly, most of them go to government-run pre-nursery schools or anganwadi, where they supposedly get nutritious food twice a day.

Thanks to the inefficient working and unhygienic conditions of these anganwadis, children are not fed regularly, they don't like the food served, which is often outdated. The children complain of stomach-ache and diarrhoea -- defeating the very purpose of spending millions of rupees on the project.

UNPOPULAR AND IRREGULAR

Recently, when this correspondent visited some centres in K R Puram, it was noticed that in most schools, children were not given food regularly.

* Kids don't like the food: State anganwadi Workers Union member R Kasturi says children don't like the upma mix, and even pregnant mothers are reluctant to take these packets. "In most anganwadi centres, food packets are not used and are stocked for months. Most often, to avoid the food packets from going waste, we distribute them in the area. But, it's unfortunate that they are not reaching the beneficiaries (children)."

* Expired food in use: The shelf life of the ready-to-eat food packets supplied is three months. However, thanks to lack of monitoring, expired food packets continue to be used.

"The supply of food packets is based on the number of children attending the centres and pregnant mothers in the area. Though distribution is compulsory, due to lack of monitoring, food is not distributed regularly in many centres. However, anganwadi workers submit monthly reports, stating that stocks have been cleared. This results in expired stock piling up in the centres, which is served to children. Since anganwadi helpers are not literate, they don't check the date on the food packets," said a teacher from K R Puram, not willing to be named.

The problems are plenty. Of 60,046 anganwadi centres in the state, only 31,925 are housed in government buildings. The rest are run at community halls and temple premises. In urban areas, buildings are rented out, but the rent allowance sanctioned by the government is only Rs 750 and there is no provision for advance either.

* Busy anganwadi workers: Workers get busy with departmental surveys and functions, and the centre is left to the mercy of helpers. "It is difficult to cook as well as control 30-40 children below five years. Secondly, due to shortage of water and lack of sanitation facility, food is not distributed so children avoid visiting toilets," said an anganwadi helper from Vijinapura.

* Diarrhoea and stomach pain: In some schools, children go home hungry because food is not cooked properly or served hygienically. Most of the children have stopped eating and complain of diarrhoea and stomach pain.

N Nagalakshmi, an anganwadi worker, says: "They have supplied readymade upma mix. Since it's wheat rava, it needs to be cooked well. But the government gives only Rs 100 per month for kerosene, with which we can only buy two litres of kerosene for the entire month. In Tamil Nadu and other states, children below 6 years are given eggs, fruits, fresh vegetables. Why can't we have a similar system here?"

SUPPLIES

Tamil Nadu-based Christy Fried Gram Industry got the tender for supplying instant mix food packets from 2007 to 2011. The main role of the industry is to establish and train Mahila Supplement The Economic Times Training Centres (MSPTC).

At present, 137 MSPTCs have been established and 2,975 women are working at these centres. The food blend is supplied by the industry and the final production is done at MSPTC.

Six types of food are supplied -- two energy foods, and four rice and wheat-based upma mix. Energy Food (EF) in powder form is made into small balls with hot water, and served in the morning. For the afternoon, upma ready mix is served hot.

QUOTE LINE

* Minister for women and child welfare P M Narendraswamy:

There are 185 Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) projects, managed by child development programme officers. In some places, since the CDPOs are yet to take charge, salaries have been affected, but most anganwadi workers get their salaries regularly.

State Women and Child Department officials clarify:

* Food: We are also receiving complaints that children do not like two types of upma mix. Three new recipes (kesari bath, kichdi and kurkure-type mix) have been introduced on a pilot basis in some taluks, and based on public response, the new recipes will be introduced across the state.

* Kerosene and house rent is sanctioned quarterly or once in six months.

* Salary: Anganwadi centres are managed under 185 ICDS projects, which come under the government-appointed child development programme officer. Only one is given to Sumangali Seva Ashrama.

`Swalpa adjust maadi' factor worries schools

`Swalpa adjust maadi' factor worries schools
TNN, Jul 30, 2010, 11.51pm IST

BANGALORE: After the buzz the circular from Bethany High School created, other Bangalore schools are cautious in their approach towards 25% reservation for under-privileged children. The Bethany school circular had warned parents about repercussions of the Right to Education Act.

Admitting that there could be `socio-economic problems', schools say the present bill needs to be clear on guidelines for 25% quota implementation. Some clauses in the act, they say, cannot be implemented in their present form.

Too Much To Handle

Though all schools welcome the Centre's move, several questions are lingering in the minds of principals and school managements on providing admission to these students. Starting from accommodation in classrooms to providing extra coaching for these children, schools feel the HRD ministry should take these factors into consideration before finalizing the bill.

"It's difficult to raise the level of education if 25% of children are from the lower strata of society where their parents don't have any educational background. If the child is the only learning member of the family then the school cannot put in extra efforts to these 25% at the cost of the remaining 75%,'' says P M Subbaiah, principal, Lawrence High School.

Further, if the no-fail policy continues then quality will take a beating. "Why should the teacher take so much trouble if every child has to compulsorily pass? How can a teacher control a class of 45 students when a parent cannot control his one child,'' he asks.

Subbaiah says the clause does not permit the child from 25% reservation to be expelled or given TC. "So if we happen to get an incapable child or one with low IQ, how will we help them? These children need special schools,'' he adds.

Echoing similar views, KLE International School principal Geetika Kharola feels the challenge lies in having a probability of greater percentage of children with learning disability from the lower strata of society as they require special help. "Generally, 8-10% of children come in the learning disability bracket. The challenge would be how to cater to them in regular school. Once we find out their learning challenges, we cannot ask them to shift to special schools. Moreover, we need teachers to be upgraded in these skills to train such students,'' she says.

What Is The Solution

"The programme should be implemented from pre-primary when the child is below six years of age so that when he/she reaches higher class, it's easier to cope,'' she suggests.

A few schools say if the 25% is implemented then a new section should be opened to accommodate them. "Most of the time classes are full. In such cases, it's difficult to accommodate the extra 25%. If we have to open another section, then there should be sufficient space in the school. The ministry should have detailed discussion on this,'' says Indira Kothaneth, principal, Presidency School, RT Nagar.

Another challenge, according to some schools, is screening of students and common curriculum. "How are we going to screen them? Common curriculum is the issue __ what will happen to CBSE and ICSE schools? Whom will they report to? The emphasis should be more on quality than on quantity,'' says Mansoor Ali Khan, trustee member, Board of Management, Delhi Public School (DPS).

Asked if children can adjust, he says: "Acceptance will come to the children. They will learn to make adjustments. There might be psychological factors, which can be addressed by counselling.''

Cambridge Public School principal Nigar Sultana says if the 25% is not implemented properly then it can have adverse effect on the remaining 75%. "We cannot have screening, which means no check on students; no fail policy...all these will have an effect. Since it's implemented at the lower level, children will learn to accept them but there could be definitely a psychological factor that needs to be dealt with. For instance, a child may boast of having gone to a pizza outlet, then the under-privileged kid may go home depressed and persuade parents to take him/her to such places,'' says Nigar.

Not An Issue For Them

Even as schools are working on implementation of reservation, schools like Jain Vidyalaya see no issue as they claim they had initiated providing free education to under-privileged children 11 years ago. "We have students from the lower strata of society where we provide free education, meals and uniforms. What more does the ministry want? We can easily implement 25%, which is not a problem. For us, everyone is equal,'' says principal B P Kishor.

If proper guidelines are drawn in the final bill, then schools say implementing 25% reservation shouldn't be a problem.

Who’s right to education is it anyway?

Who’s right to education is it anyway?
July 31st, 2010
DC Correspondent

July 30: Even as the debate over enforcing the Right to Education Act (RTE) continues, a circular by a city school telling parents that once the law is enforced, “any child will have to be allowed into school and share the classroom with your child” and that this could be “deterimental to the psyche of all the children, yours and others” has kicked up a row, with educationists and child rights activists calling for legal action against the school.

Many are shocked by the Bethany High School, Koramangala, circular, which also warned parents that, “once this Act is enforced, another child could beat up your child, smoke on the campus, misbehave with a girl or a teacher and the school will have to watch helplessly.”

While a number of parents were clearly taken aback at receiving such “information” from the school, the headmaster claims the circular has been misinterpreted and was only intended to keep students and their families informed about what to expect from the next academic year. But the explanation has not satisfied academicians and activists, who have no doubts that the school has clearly been derogatory and discriminating in its treatment of children in need of access to better education. Vasudev Sharma, state convenor of Karnataka Child Rights Observatory and executive director, Child Rights Trust, says the circular is against the Constitution and the school must be punished for having sent it.

“A suo motu case must be taken up against the school, holding it accountable for what it has done. It appears that in trying to give its suggestions to the state government on RTE, the school has attempted to influence the parents and students to support its opinion on the issue. The circular has clearly maligned the underprivileged children,” says Mr Sharma.

B.T. Venkatesh, senior counsel, Karnataka High Court, agrees the school has opened itself to prosecution by making derogatory remarks about children from socially and economically backward communities. “Although I have very serious objections to the promulgation of the RTE in its present form, private schools cannot come up with excuses to avoid their statutory responsibilities. The education department should prosecute schools trying to negatively influence children and their parents in this matter,” he says. If the school only wanted to create awareness about the new law among parents, it could have gone about it better, feels Krishna Iyer, chairman, Karnataka Unaided Schools Management Association (KUSMA). “The principal should have enlightened the parents properly. When both the state government and schools are still debating whether unaided institutions can be asked to reserve 25 per cent of their seats for the poor at the elementary level, it is certainly too early to come to conclusions of this kind,” he says.

Former vice-chancellor of Bengaluru University M.S. Thimmappa observes that whether anyone likes it or not, the Act is a reality and will be eventually implemented. “The government must make it mandatory for schools to implement the law to help bridge the divide between the rich and poor,” he underlines.

'Include dyslexia as a disability while amending RTE Act'

'Include dyslexia as a disability while amending RTE Act'
Aarti Dhar

Children of the Madras Dyslexia association, during a rehearsal of the programme 'Ananya' in connection with the annual day celebrations of the school. File Photo
The Hindu Children of the Madras Dyslexia association, during a rehearsal of the programme 'Ananya' in connection with the annual day celebrations of the school. File Photo

Modifications recommended in definition of ‘child with disability'

Taking forward the agenda set by actor Aamir Khan in the Bollywood film Taare Zameen Par, a Parliamentary Committee has suggested that dyslexia and any other type of disability, if existing, need to be included in the definition of “child with disability” while amending the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill 2010.

Dyslexia does not find mention in the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection or Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995, and the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act 1999.

The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development — in its latest report on the Right to Education Bill — has recommended necessary modifications in the definition of “child with disability” to accommodate children with dyslexia.

Inclusion in society

The Bill seeks to amend the Right to Education Act 2009 with a view to include children with disabilities within the ambit of the legislation so that their specific needs are taken care of in the elementary education system, and to enable them, over time, to participate as full and equal members of the community in which they live.

The Bill also seeks to provide that School Management Committees, with respect to minority educational institutions, shall function only in an advisory capacity and would not be required to prepare the school development plan, thereby safeguarding the interests of all minorities, whether based on religion or language, as enshrined in Article 30 of the Constitution. This has been approved by the committee.

Identification surveys

According to the 2001 Census, 2.1 per cent children in the age group of six-14 years are estimated to have disabilities. Under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan scheme, 30.42 lakh children with disabilities — representing 1.50 per cent of the population — have been identified through house-to-house surveys, special surveys and assessment camps.

Of these, elementary education is being imparted to 27.80 lakh children through regular schools, schools readiness programmes, and home-based education.

Despite these initiatives, however, children with disabilities continue to experience barriers in the way of enjoyment of basic rights and inclusion in society.

Resource centres

The Parliamentary Committee has also suggested better coverage for disabled children by providing Block Resource Centres and Cluster Resource Centres for a specified number of schools that need to be specially resourced to cater to the needs of children with disabilities.

These special resources would include Braille, sign language, other communication devices, and adapted learning materials in addition to therapy, teacher support and inclusive playgrounds.

Learn from Taare Zameen... panel tells govt

Learn from Taare Zameen... panel tells govt
Published: Saturday, Jul 31, 2010, 2:11 IST
By Vineeta Pandey | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

Aamir Khan’s Taare Zameen Par may have made people aware about the problems of dyslexic children, but the issue still has not found favour with the government.

The parliamentary standing committee on human resource development (HRD) has asked the HRD ministry to specifically include dyslexia as a disability in a proposed amendment to the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act.

The amendment has been moved to include children with disabilities in the act. Such children would be eligible for admission in specified category schools and private, unaided schools within a 25% seat limit in class I.

But while examining the amendment, the committee, which has Rahul Gandhi, Oscar Fernandes, Prakash Javadekar, Deepender Singh Hooda and Suresh Kalmadi as members, found that dyslexia did not find place in either of the main acts — Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, and the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999 — which are the basis for the RTE amendment.

The committee wants dyslexia and any disability not covered anywhere at present to be brought under the definition of ‘child with disability’ under the RTE Act and has suggested modifications in the amendment, which was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in April.

Census 2001 estimated that 2.1% children in the 6-14 age group have disabilities. Under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, 30.42 lakh children, representing 1.5% of the population, have been identified as disabled. Of them, elementary education was being imparted to 27.80 lakh children through regular schools, school readiness programmes and home-based education. But these measures have not been enough for the integration of disabled children into the mainstream.

The specific inclusion of such children in the RTE Act will make their participation in the elementary education system of the country easier.

RTE: Focus on out-of-school kids

RTE: Focus on out-of-school kids

Taking the first step towards implementation of the Right to Education in Uttar Pradesh, the state government will identify the ‘out-of-school’ children across 72 districts in the state.

The Education department, under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), will launch in August a door-to-door survey to identify the ‘out-of-school’ children in the age group of 6 and 14 years of age.

In rural areas, the process will also include an undertaking by gram pradhans and principals of primary school on the reasons for children not enrolling in the schools. After the survey, the department will initiate the process to enroll all the identified children in eh schools near their homes.

In one of the largest exercises being undertaken in the state for preparing database of the children not enrolled in the schools, the district authorities have already been issued instructions in this regard by the project office of SSA.

To be conducted by teaches of primary and upper-primary schools and Shiksha mitras, the survey will be conducted in rural areas from August 1 to15 and in urban areas from August 8 to 15.

The compilation of the report of the survey will be completed by August 25 and sent to state headquarters by August 30. In first week of September, the second round of the survey will be carried out in urban areas to include those children whose families have migrated to the areas.

“The district officials, including the Basic Shiksha Adhikaris and Assistant Basic Shiksha Adhikaris, have already been given instructions about the project. They are also given the details of the questionnaire through which they would be conducting the survey. Some of them have even visited Allahabad where a model project had been initiated in urban areas with support from UNICEF, ” a senior SSA official said.

The major focus during the survey will be on social, economic and geographical factors forcing the children to remain away from schools.

Brijesh Mishra, Basic Shiksha Adhikari of Allahabad district, said, “Poverty may be a major reason for children dropping out of school, but social reasons like caste bias are also important factors, especially in rural areas. Often, parents are forced to withdraw their wards from schools because they are situated in an area dominated by the upper caste. For girl students, the primary reason for not going or dropping out from a school is the distance. We have been able to look at all these factors and find solutions. More than 500 children have already been enrolled in schools and this survey will help us find more such children.”

District coordinator of the project at Jhansi, Devendra Kushwaha, said migration during distress months is one of the reason for children dropping out of schools in the district.

Negroponte Offers OLPC Technology for $35 Tablet

Negroponte Offers OLPC Technology for $35 Tablet

The nonprofit organization One Laptop Per Child wants to join forces to help develop the Indian government's planned US$35 tablet.

In a congratulatory note to the government, OLPC Chairman Nicholas Negroponte said the world needs the $35 tablet, and he offered the country full access to OLPC hardware and software technology.

"I repeat my offer: full access to all of our technology, cost free. I urge you to send a team to MIT and OLPC at your earliest convenience so we can share our results with you," Negroponte wrote in a blog entry, which was published on Thursday.

OLPC has its own plans to ship a low-cost tablet. The organization has said it hopes to ship a $100 XO tablet by 2012. Negroponte said India's $35 tablet wouldn't compete with OLPC's offerings, but that both could align efforts to promote education.

"India is so big that you risk being satisfied with your internal market. Don't. The world needs your device and leadership. Your tablet is not an "answer" or "competitor" to OLPC's XO laptop," Negroponte wrote.

The Indian government last week announced the $35 tablet targeted at students, but didn't announce a release date. The government has previously announced low-cost devices, including a $100 laptop, but has failed to deliver. Some observers believe the tablet won't see the light of day.

A similar promise of a $100 laptop came from OLPC, when it announced the $100 XO laptop in 2005. However, the effort was afflicted by production delays and rising costs, which caused the laptop's estimated price to rise to $200. But OLPC says it has now deployed 2 million laptops in 40 countries. OLPC has been shy about revealing official sales figures.

As part of its deployments, OLPC has rolled out XO laptops across projects in India, but the organization has shared a hot and cold relationship with the Indian government. The country in 2006 declined to purchase OLPC XO laptops, instead opting for Intel's Classmate PC. However, in 2009 two Indian government organizations placed orders for XO laptops.

Negroponte advised the Indian government to make the tablet as desirable as Apple's iPad, but not to design it as a media consumption tool. The device should be an education tool.

"Caution is needed with regard to one aspect of tablets: learning is not media consumption. It is about making things. The iPad is a consumptive tool by design. OLPC urges that you not make this mistake," Negroponte wrote.

The organization is also urging the Indian government to stick to the open-source Linux OS for the tablet.

OLPC has been praised for implementing innovative hardware and environmentally friendly designs in its laptops. The XO tablet may include new display technology from Pixel Qi, which makes screens that absorb ambient light to brighten screens and save power by reducing the need for the backlight, which is used to light up conventional screens.

Top pvt schools may get breather

Top pvt schools may get breather
Charu Sudan Kasturi , Hindustan Times

Private schools with a proven track record may be exempted from a controversial provision under the Right to Education Act that requires all existing private schools to obtain a certificate of recognition to continue operations. HRD minister Kapil Sibal has suggested that reputed private schools
be exempt from requiring fresh recognition, a process that could lead to "unnecessary" harassment by local authorities, top government sources told HT.

The exemption can be awarded either through an amendment to the Act or through guidelines issued by the HRD ministry, the sources said.

Sibal's suggestion will be discussed at an August 14 meeting the HRD ministry is calling to discuss a number of concerns related to the implementation of the law.

Top private schools have been opposing the section 18 of the Act which makes obtaining recognition mandatory, criticising it as discriminatory.

This section, private schools have argued, means that while government schools — irrespective of their quality — will not need certificates of recognition, but all private schools will be required to obtain one.

But top private schools have argued – informally and to Sibal – that it is unfair to place all private schools in the "same basket."

At least a section of the ministry bureaucracy is likely to oppose the move, sources said.

"It will not be easy to categorise schools as reputed or not reputed," an official argued.

Sibal to meet stakeholders to resolve RTE issues

Sibal to meet stakeholders to resolve RTE issues

With a number of concerns being raised about implementation of the Right to Education Act, the HRD Ministry will next month meet all stakeholders concerned to resolve “outstanding issues”.

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said on Friday said several issues related to RTE implementation had come to his notice and the ministry would now work on ways to sort these out.

Experts and stakeholders like school principals, teachers and civil society will meet on August 14 to find ways to address the issues.

Problems dogging RTE implementation include the contentious screening issue. While the Act seems to suggest there should be no screening mechanism used in determining student admissions to schools, several private schools have objected to this criterion. Private schools apart, the likes of Navodaya Vidyalayas, which are mandated to provide modern education to talented children from remote areas, have also requested the HRD Ministry to be exempted from the “screening clause”.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary standing committee on HRD submitted its report on Friday on the amendments proposed to the RTE Act. It backed the proposed amendment to bring children with all kinds of disabilities under the cover of the Act.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Ensure rescued child labourers don’t return to work: HC to govt

Ensure rescued child labourers don’t return to work: HC to govt

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to convene a meeting with the Delhi government, its Labour department and the city police to put in place a proper mechanism for the repatriation of rescued child labourers to their native places.

Further directing them to provide respectable living conditions for such children in their shelters, the court also sought a comprehensive report on what forced the children to return to work just a few months after their rescue.

Taking on record the report submitted by standing counsel for the Delhi government Meera Bhatia, the Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra asked the authorities to submit a comprehensive report by the next date, also apprising them of the penalties recovered from the offenders who employed children.

The High Court directed the secretaries of Labour, Home, Health, Social Welfare and Education departments of Delhi government, besides the Commissioners of the Delhi Police and the MCD to attend the meeting and prepare a report on the issue within four weeks.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Save the Childhood Foundation through counsel H S Phoolka, seeking direction to the government to curb child labour in the city. The petitioner alleged the Labour department has failed to rescue children who have been working with various organisations, while the Social Welfare department has failed to rehabilitate them properly. As a result, the children, even after being sent back to their home states, returned to work.

New rules for anganwadi workers

New rules for anganwadi workers

U Anand Kumar
First Published : 29 Jul 2010 02:42:02 AM IST
Last Updated : 29 Jul 2010 08:00:44 AM IST

NEW DELHI: The Centre has revised the guidelines on paid absence on maternity and abortion or miscarriage to anganwadi workers and helpers in the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme.

Under the revised guidelines of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD), paid absence on maternity would be provided for a period of 180 days and would be admissible for a maximum of two occasions.

However, this paid leave would be admissible only to anganwadi workers and helpers with two surviving children, or less than that.

As per the new guidelines, paid leave on abortion or miscarriage would be provided for a maximum of 45 days from the date of occurrence of abortion or miscarriage.

Similarly, it would be admissible only on one occasion irrespective of the number of children. In order to avail the facility, anganwadi worker should have already completed at least one year of service as such a worker.

The Ministry also directed to display name boards depicting the name of the centre and Integrated Child Development Services logo at the entrance of the anganwadi centre, which would give a visual impact and also help in improving the awareness of the community on the ICDS scheme.

Private schools dig in their elitism heels

Private schools dig in their elitism heels
Poornima Nataraj, July 28, DHNS,Bangalore:

The fight Bangalore’s private schools are putting up against some provisions in the Right To Education Act (RTE) reinstates their commitment to elitism.

Taking a strong stand against the RTE provision reserving 25 per cent of admissions for children from the neighbourhood, the schools now try to garner support from parents saying admitting such children could dilute the discipline and finesse with which privileged kids are being groomed.

In a circular to parents, the schools said: “Once this Act is enforced, a child could beat up your child, smoke on the campus, misbehave with a girl or a teacher and the school will have to watch helplessly.”

Schools have asked parents to give suggestions on the Act and how they feel its provisions would affect their children.

“Parents need to know with whom their children will be studying in future. Incidents mentioned in the circular about misbehaviour of the students have occurred in the past. But after the Act is in place, even if such incidents occur, we will not be in a position to take any action,” Akash Ryall, principal of Bethany High School, said.

Mohan Manghnani, president of ICSE schools in Karnataka and chairman of New Horizon Educational Institution, justified the stand of the schools, saying, “Free and compulsory education is a very good initiative from the government but not at the cost of children studying in private schools.”

But some parents, who have been given the circulars, aren’t very impressed. “The government is trying to take a noble step and requesting private schools to co-operate. Schools should not make such generalised statements when my child gets robbed inside the classroom even without 25 per cent reservation,” S Gururaj, whose kid is a student of Bethany High School, says.

The State government has taken the issuance of circulars seriously, saying such acts by schools could invite legal action. “It is ridiculous. How can you generalise such incidences?” Ashwathnarayana Gowda, Block Education Officer, asked. According to officials of the Teachers and Officers of Department of Education, the online Draft Act has received 19 objections from students, parents and educational institutions so far.
More objections to the Act are expected at an upcoming workshop in August. “The State government cannot change the Act; we can only ask for objections and suggestions,” R G Nadadur, principal secretary of primary and secondary education, said.
DH News Service

U.K. doesn't intend to probe Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan for corruption

U.K. doesn't intend to probe Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan for corruption
Aarti Dhar
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Inquiry is only to ensure that DFID's control over aid funds is robust

The United Kingdom has told India that it does not propose to investigate the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) programme for alleged corruption vis-à-vis the grants provided by the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID).

Media reports

There were reports in the British media that the funds given for the flagship programme were being misused.

“Indeed, the SSA programme has long been considered amongst the most successful elementary education programmes anywhere in the world, and DFID is proud to support it,” the department said in a letter to the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry. The letter comes even as a high-power U.K. delegation is on a visit to India, with education high on its agenda.

Funding support

The controversy started following an article, published in the News of the World last month, that levelled serious charges against the SSA and in respect of utilisation of U.K. assistance.

India refuted the charges, saying expenditure was incurred in keeping with well-defined norms articulated in the SSA Framework for implementation and the Manual of Financial Management and Procurement.

The DFID provides only two per cent of the total expenditure on the SSA. Given the nature of the allegations, Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell asked for an inquiry.

“The principal purpose of this inquiry is to ensure that DFID's control over UK aid funds to SSA is robust — particularly to ensure that DFID's programme management and monitoring systems are applied effectively” and that funds were used for the intended purpose, the donor agency informed the HRD Ministry.

Audit department to oversee probe

The inquiry will be overseen by the DFID's Internal Audit Department working in India, in collaboration with an international audit firm that would look at the application of the DFID's systems within the Delhi office, apart from meeting officials of the Ministry.

Parallel school bump

Parallel school bump
OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

Calcutta, July 29: The Left Front government’s efforts to fast-track its bill that creates a parallel school board in Bengal have been stalled, at least for another 18 days.

The government had pulled out the stops to hasten the bill’s clearance and get it passed tomorrow, the scheduled last day of the budget session. But the plan went awry after a report in The Telegraph raised concerns about the future of the students of the new primary and secondary education board, to be run by the panchayat and rural development department, which lacks the expertise for the job.

Amid protests against the bill from the Opposition and even some Left MLAs, Deputy Speaker Bhaktipada Ghosh today set a fresh date for the bill’s introduction.

However, the bill can be tabled on August 16 instead of having to wait till mid-December for the winter session to begin: the House business advisory committee today extended the ongoing session till August 16, with an adjournment between July 31 and August 15.

Earlier, the Assembly standing committee on panchayat and rural development, which was asked to look into the bill’s provisions only yesterday, almost set a record for promptness by clearing it today in toto.

“The government wanted to get it passed tomorrow. But as the Opposition members are not happy with the provisions, the standing committee will have another look. The Speaker too will hold a meeting in the interim to explore the possibility of a consensus,” a CPM member of the Assembly said.

The bill is a vote-winner because it will create 56,000 full-fledged teaching jobs in sishu siksha kendras and Madhyamik siksha kendras. However, since it threatens to condemn the new board’s students to an inferior schooling system, it has failed to please many in the Left’s own education bodies.

“We were not consulted…. Now that we have got some time, we will try to stall its passage,” said a leader of the All Bengal Teachers’ Association, the powerful Left teachers’ lobby.

The Trinamul education cell chairman, Manik Bhattacharya, said: “We are determined to stall the bill’s passage and will intensify our protests.”
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Rush on parallel school bill

Rush on parallel school bill
OUR BUREAU

Calcutta, July 28: The Left Front government has fast-tracked the creation of a parallel school education system under the panchayat and rural development department, ignoring opposition from both within and outside the coalition.

The government is pitching the bill as a tool to bring more students to schools, but has stoked fears that a system under the panchayat and rural development department — which does not have the expertise to run an education system — will expose students in rural Bengal to inferior standards.

Instead of scrutinising the provisions of the bill, the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government introduced the West Bengal Panchayat Board of Education Bill, 2010, in the Assembly yesterday.

A section of veteran CPM teacher-leaders had met the party leadership yesterday and urged a rethink on the bill, a source in the party headquarters said. However, according to the source, the government did not want to spend time analysing the costs and benefits of the bill.

The bruised government is banking heavily on the job creation potential — more than 56,000 teachers apart from other employees — of the bill to court voters before the elections next year.

Deputy Speaker Bhaktipada Ghosh today referred the bill to the Assembly standing committee on panchayat and rural development. Anisur Rahman, the minister in charge of the department, said the bill would be referred back to the Assembly the day after tomorrow to get the seal of approval of the House.

The bill does not feature on the list of business of the House for the remaining two days of this session. But the government can get the bill tabled for its approval, a mere formality for the Left Front government given its numbers.

“Such a rushed approach to get a bill passed on the floor of the Assembly is rare…. It seems the government is desperate to pass it and claim credit before the Assembly polls,” said a CPM insider opposed to the provisions.

The bill aims at setting up the West Bengal Board of Panchayat Education, which will affiliate 16,108 sishu siksha kendras that hold classes from I to IV and 1,900 Madhyamik siksha kendras (MSKs) that run classes from V to VIII. It has provisions to extend the MSKs till Class X and conduct the Class X-level school-leaving examination.

“Creating proper syllabi, recruiting teachers for schools, maintaining their standards and ensuring smooth transition of the students to the next level require a lot of planning. I am afraid, all these things have been overlooked,” said the leader of a CPM-backed teachers’ union.

“We will fight tooth and nail to stop the government from setting up a parallel school education board under the panchayat and rural development department,” said Manik Bhattacharya, the chairman of the West Bengal Trinamul Congress Education Cell.

Centre, states to share RTE expenses in 68:32 ratio

Centre, states to share RTE expenses in 68:32 ratio
30 Jul 2010, 0801 hrs IST,ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: Underpressure from the states, the central government has agreed to bear a higher burden of the cost of implementing the Right to Education.

The Centre’s share of the financial burden will be at 68%, a sharp rise from the sharing pattern of 55:45 in the current year and the proposed 50:50 from 2011-12 .

The new sharing pattern has been approved by the Expenditure Finance Committee on Wednesday. The ministry of human resource development had been pushing for a higher share, 75%, for the Centre as state after state expressed their inability to set aside higher level of funding required to meet the stringent norms of the RTE.

States argued that the RTE made state and local bodies accountable for the implementation, even though neither has the financial capacity. Some states like Uttar Pradesh charged that since the central government takes all the credit for the legislation it should also ensure that funds are available.

The Bordia Committee set up by the ministry in 2009-10 to harmonise the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the RTE also argued for a higher financial burden for the centre. It said that sharing ratio of 55:45 (for the current year) and 50:50 (in 2011-12 ) would be unfavourable to the states as they would have to practically double their allocation.

The committee found that at even at 2009-10 sharing levels of 60:40 for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan as many as 14 states defaulted on their shares. Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa are among the defaulters.

In the meantime, the cost of implementing the RTE had escalated to 2,31,000 crore from the initial estimate of 1,71,000 crore. This meant that in absolute terms, states would have to shoulder a bigger financial burden than previously estimated. A higher share for the centre was however opposed by the Planning Commission. The issue was resolved after HRD minister Kapil Sibal met with finance minister Pranab Mukherjee last weekend.

The Expenditure Finance Committee approved the outlay of 2,31,000 crore as well. This includes the 24,000 crore allocated to the states by the thirteenth Finance Commission. This would make the total amount that the centre and states require to allocate for the implementation of the RTE is to the tune of 2,07,000 crore over the next five years.

The central government’s share of this amount will be at 65% and that of the states 35%. However, when the 24,000 crore awarded by the Finance Commission is taken into account, the centre’s share effectively works out to 68% while that of the states’ 32%.

Centre to pick up 70% of education law tab

Centre to pick up 70% of education law tab
Charu Sudan Kasturi, Hindustan Times

The Centre has agreed to pay almost 70 per cent of the finances required to implement the Right to Education (RTE) Act, ending months of bickering with state governments crying over inadequate funds.

The finance ministry's expenditure finance committee (EFC) on Wednesday approved a massive hike in central funding for the law, which promises schooling to every child between 6 and 14 years of age.

The hike means 16 out of 35 states and union territories won't need to increase their education budgets to meet RTE commitments at all, government sources told HT.


Presently, the Centre and states share funding of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the principle vehicle for RTE, in a 55:45 ratio.


The HRD ministry has projected Rs 2,31,233 crore as the total cost over five years of implementing the law. The 13th Finance Commission has already set aside Rs 24,068 crore of additional funds to help the states implement the law.

The EFC agreed the Centre would pay 65 per cent of the remaining financial requirements — after deducting the Commission's award from the total projected cost. The 65 per cent, added to the Commission's award, works out to Rs 1,58,725 crore, almost 70 per cent of the total financial burden of Rs 2,31,233 crore.


"Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has met HRD minister Kapil Sibal and indicated support for the extra funds," a source said.

The HRD ministry had requested the finance ministry for a 75:25 fund-sharing ratio but is likely to accept the EFC decision. The ministry will now approach cabinet for its approval.

Most states have protested against a shortage of funds to implement the law, in operation since April 1.

Non-Congress governments like Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh have even suggesting the Centre bear 90 per cent of the cost.

Centre, states to share funds at 65:35 ratio for RTE

Centre, states to share funds at 65:35 ratio for RTE
Press Trust Of India
New Delhi, July 29, 2010

Ending the controversy over sharing of funds and paving the way for implementing the historic Right To Education (RTE) law, the government has fixed the funds sharing pattern at 65 to 35 between the Centre and the states for the next five years. There will be a requirement of Rs 2.31 lakh crore in
the next five years for implementing the new act which makes education a fundamental right of every child.

The Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) under Finance Ministry has agreed to the fund sharing formula keeping in view demands of states for higher assistance from the Centre to implement the Act which has come into force from April one this year.

The EFC gave its clearance on Wednesday, a HRD Ministry official said. The clearance came after HRD Minister Kapil Sibal met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and explained the concerns of the states on the issue.

The Finance Commission has already given Rs 24,000 crore to the states for implementing the Act. If this money is included under the Central assistance, the Central share could go up to 68 per cent, the official said.

States like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar had even demanded full funding from the Centre for implementation of the law. Most of the states had demanded 90 per cent funding by the Centre for this Act.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Delhi education department to pay fine for RTE violation

Delhi education department to pay fine for RTE violation

July 28, 2010 | RSS | Tell a friend | Printable Version

Delhi education department to pay fine for RTE violation
New Delhi: A fine of Rs.25,000 has been slapped on the Director and Deputy Director (Delhi Education Department) of the Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalayas (RPVV) by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) for a violation of the Right To Education (RTE) Act, 2009.

DCPCR Chairman Amod Kanth decided to impose the fine at a meeting of the commission because the RPVV schools had been making students undergo entrance tests in order to gain admission, which is a violation of the RTE Act.

According to the commission, the procedure of admission involving entrance examinations for admission in Class VI violates the provision of Section 13 (1) of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.

Also, the application forms for admission into the schools cost Rs.25, which again violates Section 3 (2) of the RTE Act, 2009.

The commission has also directed the schools to not conduct such entrance tests for students in the future for admission to class VI in any of the RPVV schools. The schools were also ordered to not charge any fee directly or indirectly from the students, such as the Rs.25 charged for the application forms.

Maharashtra to train low scoring schools

Maharashtra to train low scoring schools
Yogita Rao / DNA
Wednesday, July 28, 2010 1:08 IST

Mumbai: The Maharashtra state board of secondary and higher secondary education is finally coming up with innovative measures to increase the standard of education in its schools. The board is planning to provide special training to the teachers in the schools where students have not preformed well in their Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exams.

The special training would be focused on subjects like English and Mathematics that students are weak at, and which are also the major reasons for the high numbers of failures in such schools.

As per the initiative by the state board, the schools will now get assistance from the board for better results. According to sources,
“The state board will scrutinise the 2010 examination results to see which schools have not performed well. Schools with a low passing percentage will be singled out, and these schools will then be given training in the subjects the students have not performed well in.

When contacted, VS Mhatre, secretary, Mumbai division of the state board, said, “There is a plan to train low-performing schools.

The training sessions are expected from this year and they will start from those schools which have not performed well in this year’s SSC examination. However, there are still some details to be finalised for the project, like the limit of the passing percentage to determine low performance.”

Aasha Desai, principal, Cosmopolitan school, said, “We should appreciate the state board’s initiative. But the board has to take care while forming the resource team for such a programme.”

She also added, “It is also important for the board to keep a check on the schools that are filtering the divisions in the Std IX. Even if the data shows that a school’s result was 100 per cent, it does not
actually substantiate the school’s standards.”

Biological changes may put UID out of bounds for kids

Biological changes may put UID out of bounds for kids
28 Jul 2010, 0309 hrs IST,Harsimran Julka,ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: The government’s unique identification (UID) project aims to embrace nearly 1.4 billion people, but the task of covering children, up to 15 years, who form a good part of the population is tinged with uncertainty.

Absence of what is delicately called stable biometric features in children — the 2001 Census said they constitute nearly 35% of the population — is proving to be a huge challenge for the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), headed by technocrat Nandan Nilekani.

Children up to 15 years do not have sharp patterns of fingerprints, the metric used to uniquely identify each one of them and more importantly, for authentication. The iris — the coloured portion of the eye — that is to be used to issue a unique identity number, too, does not fully develop before seven years.

“The iris starts achieving 90% stability in size only after six years of age. A normal iris starts assuming stability only by eight years,” said Dr Rakesh Gupta, consultant eye surgeon at Max Balaji Hospital in New Delhi.

Fingerprint patterns assume stability at an even later stage, around 16 years, said Dr V Khanna, a South Delhi-based skin specialist. “Fingerprints are very feeble in children and difficult to capture,” he said.

A direct fallout of the lack of these features in children is that the UIDAI project will remain out of bounds, or at least inaccurate, for swathes of people it is intended to help. Iris scan and fingerprint examination are used for a process called deduplication, to verify if an applicant has already been issued a number.

“We know that such inaccuracy exists,” said UIDAI director general Ram Sewak Sharma, confirming the worst fears of a report issued by a biometric panel at the agency.

“But we did not want infants and children to be kept out of the system,” said Mr Sharma, adding that government wanted to monitor child welfare schemes such as Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan and Integrated Child Development Schemes as well as vaccination programmes.

Despite the government’s best intentions, it is unclear on how it will circumvent the problem that threatens to throw the project into disarray. With the UIDAI system in place, the government was hoping to improve the working of these schemes, which have been hit hard by corruption, bogus claims and scalability issues.

A case in point is the Janani Suraksha Yojana, which hands out incentives to mothers. Earlier this week, a fake babies scam was unearthed in Bihar where 300 women claimed to have delivered up to five babies in a span of 60 days to avail an incentive of Rs 1,000 for each baby.

There is also the problem of bogus ration cards. Many BPL families inflate the number of children in the ration cards to increase allotments, thus amplifying the fake ration card problem. Of the 102.8 million ration cards, almost 37 million are estimated to be fake. There are around 102.8 million families in India who own a ration card, with almost 65.2 million below poverty line.

“Anganwadi post-natal schemes, National Rural Health Mission and Integrated Child Development Scheme dealing with neo-natal benefits impact children below six years. There are leakages in these programmes,” said Parminder Jeet Singh, founder of IT for Change.

Welfare schemes directed at children are ambitious in scale and size. For example, the mid-day meal scheme launched across the country is valued at Rs 8,000 crore, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan is worth Rs 13,100 crore and Rs 6,705 crore rides on the Integrated Child Development Scheme.

To compound UIDAI’s woes, scores of farmers, with fingers worn out by years of toil, face a similar problem. ET had reported about this challenge earlier.

A way out would have been DNA fingerprinting, but that would have added to the cost of a programme already running into crores of rupees, said Mr Sharma. The government is hunting for other solutions.

“To minimise inaccuracy, we will link the UID number of a new-born or children below 15 years with that of their guardian,” said Mr Sharma. Besides the government schemes, a host of institutions such as schools, telcos, banks and insurers are to rely on the UIDAI to verify applications.

Schools, for example, are likely to use UID numbers for enrolment of new students, as well as entrance exams. But chances of that happening are fast fading because of typical biometric issues related to children.

City schools to branch out in districts

City schools to branch out in districts
MITA MUKHERJEE

Calcutta, July 27: Several reputable Calcutta-based English-medium schools are planning to set up new branches in the districts, with the government encouraging private players to set up unaided institutions in the state.

The state government has set up a task force to frame guidelines for approving such institutions. The move is in keeping with a provision in the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, which suggests that state governments should encourage private organisations to set up unaided schools.

A number of prominent Christian missionary, Anglo-Indian and other private English medium ICSE and CBSE schools have shown interest in undertaking expansion plans.

“We have been told by school education department officials that the government intends to set up new unaided schools in places where there is a scarcity of good schools. We are ready to open branches of schools run by the Christian missionaries under our Churches if the government promises us the necessary clearance,” said Father Faustine Brank of the Roman Catholic Church. He is also the president of the education cell of the Bangiya Christiya Pariseba, an NGO representing the Christian community.

Barry ’Brien, the MLA nominated from the Anglo-Indian community, urged the heads of associations of Anglo-Indian schools at a recent meeting to “immediately respond to the government initiative and set up new branches outside Calcutta”.

Rajarhat, Ranaghat in Nadia, Baruipur and Sonarpur in South 24-Parganas, Asansol in Burdwan, Jalpaiguri, Siliguri and Malda are some of the places where city schools are planning to open branches.

Calcutta Boys’, Calcutta Girls’, St James, Pratt Memorial, La Martiniere, Rammohan Mission and St Augustine are keen on opening branches in the districts. The Methodist Church, which runs Calcutta Boys’, Calcutta Girls’, Mount Hermon, Darjeeling, Methodist Church School, Dankuni, has already begun the process of identifying the locations for setting up their branches.

“We intend to set up a Calcutta Girls’ branch in Nadia’s Ranghat and another of Mount Hermon School in Jalpaiguri,” said Kamalakshya Sardar, the chairman of the Methodist Church. The Church of North India (CNI) has decided to revive its plan to set up branches of La Martiniere, St James and Pratt Memorial on the city outskirts.

The CNI had identified plots on the northern and southern fringes of the city. But it had temporarily shelved the project after the Singur agitation. “Preparations for reviving the scheme have started after the government announcement,” said Terence Ireland, St James School principal.

Muslim girls top national average in school enrolment

Muslim girls top national average in school enrolment
TNN, Jul 28, 2010, 03.43am IST

NEW DELHI: Enrolment of Muslim children in primary and upper primary classes in 2009-10 improved significantly with Muslim girls -- as was the trend in the previous two years -- again doing better than boys across the country.

In fact, at the upper primary level (class VI-VIII) the percentage of Muslim girls -- 49.97% -- has been higher than the national average of 48.04%.

A report by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration, after analyzing data from 1.28 million recognised schools imparting elementary education from 635 districts spread over 35 states and union territories, shows a total enrolment of 17.17 million (against 14.83 million in 2008-09) Muslim children in primary classes in 2009-10. This is 13.04% of the total 131.72 million enrolment in classes I to V. During 2009-10, an additional 2.34 million Muslim minority children were enrolled in primary classes across the country. In 2008-09, the share of Muslim enrolment was 11.03% and in 2007-08, it was 10.49%.

Like primary classes, the percentage of Muslim enrolment in upper primary classes also improved to 11.47% in 2009-10 from 9.13% in 2008-09 and 8.54% in 2007-08. Of the total 54.02 million enrolment in upper primary classes in the country in 2009-10, Muslim children totalled 6.20 million (against 4.87 million in 2008-09).

Girls, both at primary and upper primary level, have done exceptionally well. Of the total Muslim enrolment in primary classes, Muslim girls contribute 48.89% which is similar to the share of girls in overall primary enrolment (48.44%) at the all-India level. At the upper primary level, Muslim girls to total Muslim enrolment in upper primary classes is 49.97% which is above the national average of 48.04%.

Both at the primary and upper primary level Muslim enrolment has increased in Assam, Bihar, Delhi, J&K, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, UP, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.

NUEPA data for 2009-10 also reveals that there are certain pockets in the country which have a high percentage of Muslim enrolment. There are about 1,01,484 schools which have got more than 25% Muslim enrolment (to total enrolment in elementary classes) which is 7.91% of the total schools that impart elementary education in the country. Similarly, 72,053 (5.62%) schools have above 50% Muslim enrolment as compared to 54,355 schools (4.84%) having 75% and above and 43,809 schools (3.41%) even having a share of 90% and above Muslim enrolment to total enrolment in the country.

Because of the high percent share of Muslim population to total population in the state, 11 districts of J&K have above 90% Muslim enrolment in 2009-10 in primary classes which is also true for enrolment in upper primary classes. On the other hand, 34 districts have more than 50% Muslim enrolment in primary classes in 2009-10 compared to 30 such districts in case of upper primary enrolment. Twelve districts of J&K, one each in Bihar, Lakshadweep and Kerala, two in West Bengal and eight districts in Assam have more than 50% Muslim enrolment in primary classes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

500 more teachers soon for Chandigarh schools

500 more teachers soon for Chandigarh schools
Chandigarh Education Department has decided to hire 500 teachers on regular posts to maintain the prescribed student teacher ratio
Published on 07/27/2010 - 09:51:52 AM
By Hemant Singh

Chandigarh: To overcome the shortage of teachers in the government schools, the Chandigarh Education Department has decided to hire 500 teachers on regular posts soon.

“Considering the fact that 13 new government schools are under construction and existing schools have admitted more students due to the Right to Education Act, more teachers will be required in the near future. We are through with the process of hiring guest teachers. Very soon, we will come out with a public notice mentioning the recruitment details for permanent posts,” Public Instructions (Schools) Director Sunil Bhatia said.

UT Education Secretary Ram Niwas has already emphasised on sprucing up the infrastructure of existing schools by providing more faculty and facilities to all of them by October 2010.

No interview will be conducted for appointing regular teachers. Recruitment will be based on the database. Interviews will not be held this time as last year’s recruitment was marred by the controversy,” a senior official of the UT Education Department said.

This year all the existing 107 government schools have admitted more number of students due to the Right to Education Act. As a result, most government schools are facing the problem of limited rooms, inadequate furniture and fewer teachers.

The Education Department wants schools to maintain students and teachers’ ratio of 1:40, which is, under present circumstances, difficult to achieve.

Hiring of more teachers is a step to bring down the students and teachers’ ratio in all government schools from 1:60 to the prescribed limit.

Impractical Bill

COMMENT
Impractical Bill
Jul 20, 2010, 12.00am IST

Good intentions alone are never a sound basis for public policy and legislation. The proposed Prevention of Offences Against The Child Bill, 2009 has fallen into this trap. From a broad perspective, there is a lot it does right as an umbrella legislation that is expected to cover issues pertaining to social, physical, economic and sexual exploitation of children. It also makes corporal punishment meted out by educational as well as corrective institutions, friends and neighbours punishable by fines and prison sentences. So far, so good; corporal punishment by teachers and ragging by peers are both serious problems. But where the Bill goes too far is in including parents within its ambit.

There are both practical and ethical problems with criminalising corporal punishment defined as physical penalty on a child for disciplinary purposes in a parent-child context. From a practical point of view, it is simply not enforceable. Passing a law is pointless when the support systems needed to implement it from child protection services to courts equipped for dealing with parent-child litigation are entirely absent. And from the ethical point of view, such legislation is dangerously intrusive. Child abuse is another matter entirely, but by defining corporal punishment in a parent-child context as broadly as it does, the Bill criminalises a broad spectrum of parent-child interaction that is not intended to, and does not cause any harm to the latter. And it also sets up the state as a primary caregiver able to overrule the parent in even the most unwarranted situations. When the Bill is tabled before the cabinet, those debating it would do well to temper good intentions with common sense.

Principals, teachers to receive training on RTE

Principals, teachers to receive training on RTE
TNN, Jul 26, 2010, 11.57pm IS

CHENNAI: Now schools can no longer hide behind the fact that the government has not informed them about the course of action to be taken with regard to the implementation of the Right To Education Act. Copies of the government order giving directions with regard to the implementation of the Act were handed out to principals of all matriculation schools in the city. The GO, issued on July 12, talks about compulsory admission, attendance and completion of education under the Act.

School heads and teachers will soon have to gear up for periodic training to help implement the Right to Education (RTE) Act. After the government issued the GO detailing the salient points of the Act, such as the provision that no student be held back till class VIII, school heads had expressed concern that this might lower the standard of education.

"When a recent judgment in the Madras high court came out in favour of promoting a student to class VII as per the provisions of the Act, I came across an instance of a parent pulling a student out of an instant supplementary exam to qualify for class VII saying there was no need for the boy to write the exam since he would now be promoted under the Act anyway. This is the condition of parents and students," said R Arthanari, president, Tamil Nadu Higher Secondary Headmasters' Association, Chennai district.

However, others such as D Jagannathan, chairman of the advisory committee for the RTE Act, said it was the responsibility of schools to ensure that quality did not suffer since they could not ignore the terms of the Act. "We had convened a meeting of chief educational officers (CEOs) from 10 districts recently to discuss the provisions of the Act. The issues confronting the implementation of the Act may be taken up by them with school principals of their respective districts during the monthly meetings," he said.

According to school education director P Perumalsamy, it was important to take steps to ensure the quality of education did not suffer. "We will arrange for periodic training for teachers through the SSA. We cannot have a situation wherein students' education is affected because they are all promoted to class VIII and are then unable to cope in class IX. We will definitely take concrete steps to ensure that this does not happen," he said.

The GO also says that any child above six years of age who is not admitted to a school or unable to complete his/her elementary education shall be admitted to an age-appropriate class. A child so admitted will also have the right to receive special training to be on a par with others in school. If a birth certificate is not available to provide proof of age for admission, the hospital/auxiliary and midwife register, the anganwadi record or the declaration through an affidavit of the age of the child from a parent or guardian will serve the purpose.

The extended period of admission will be six months from the date of commencement of the academic year, according to the GO. The order also states that no school should collect any capitation fees while admitting a child or subject the child or his/her parents to any sort of screening procedure.

Kapil Sibal to seek expert view on ‘screening’

Kapil Sibal to seek expert view on ‘screening’
27 Jul 2010, 0506 hrs IST,Urmi A Goswami,ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal has decided to hold consultations with experts, including those involved in framing the Right to Education Act, on the issue of “screening” in admissions. There has been a lack of clarity on whether schools like the Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas, on the one hand, and private unaided schools, on the other, can screen the students they admit.

The ministry is clear that there can be no selection criteria for students admitted through the 25% quota for weakers sections and disadvantaged groups in the neighbourhood. There is, however, lack of clarity in the method through which schools may select the remaining 75% of students. Explaining the need for the consultation, Mr Sibal said: “A government cannot be involved in dismantling structures as it takes forward the social agenda.”

The proposed consultations will seek to understand the context of the Right to Education Act, ground realities of the elementary education sector. The aim would be to set out a transparent system of admission, through a well-established process. The system won’t be one based on discretion. The well-defined process of admission would be done in a manner that doesn’t undermine the basic aim of the Right to Education, which is to ensure quality elementary schooling for all children.

In arriving at a system that would be acceptable to all, the ministry will take into account the fact that private institutions only account for 7-8% of the total number of schools in the country. It will also keep in mind the “purpose” behind setting up certain categories of schools. This would take into account the Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas which were set up for specific reasons. In working out what constitutes “screening”, the minister said the ground realities must be taken into consideration. “We need to accept that private schools, though they form a small segment of the education system, are here to stay and there is no question of targeting Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas to bring them down to the level of other schools. There is no intention to dismantle these schools,” the minister said.

The need to work out what constitutes screening takes on added urgency after the law ministry made it clear that there can be no screening in the 6,000 model schools that are in the pipeline. The law ministry has said that screening of students for admission runs counter to the Right to Education. These schools will begin intake at class VI, which falls within the purview of the Act. Of these 3,500 schools are being set up by the government and another 2,500 through public-private partnerships. These schools are modelled on the Navodaya Vidyalayas, which admit students in class VI through an admission test. The Navodaya Vidyalayas have already written to the ministry seeking an exemption. Similar exemptions can be sought by Kendriya Vidyalayas, Sainik schools and other schools set up for a specified purpose.

Experts involved with the work on the Right to Education over the last six years said that the question of “screening” has been a cause of concern to the drafters of the legislation. However, screening was broadly understood to mean “admission or entrance test” not admission according to a preset selection criteria.

Mayawati hits back at Sibal,calls his remarks irresponsible

Mayawati hits back at Sibal,calls his remarks irresponsible
TNN, Jul 27, 2010, 06.36am IST

LUCKNOW: Chief minister Mayawati on Monday went full blast against Union human resource development minister Kapil Sibal. Taking a strong exception to Sibal's statement that the state government was keen to construct memorials and parks rather than implementing the Right to Education (RTE) Act sincerely, the CM said Sibal's remarks were not only irresponsible but also politically uncouth.

Sibal, she said, was not only blissfully ignorant about the state's initiatives, but also seemed keen to rake up the issue for vested political interest to malign her government. The state government, Maya said, had increased the basic education budget to Rs 12,412 crore for the current financial year and also allocated additional Rs 15,175 crore under the RTE Act. This was 10% of the total budget of the State, she added.

Compared to it, Maya said, the Central assistance was only a pittance, adding that in the face of it, Sibal's statement was only directed at creating confusion and misleading the people. Sibal, she said, should have sought the details on the subject before making such remarks.

Taking a dig at the Congress-led UPA government, chief minister said it was in the habit of thrusting upon the states its half-baked plans without making provisions for requisite funds for them. All this is being done to take political mileage out of cheap popularity, she said.

Mayawati said education is in the concurrent list and hence essentially it's a state subject. But if the Centre chooses to formulate any law in this regard, financial burden on account of this should not be passed unnecessarily to states, she said. In this context, she also pointed out that this was also the view held by the task force constituted at the behest of the Supreme Court for the impact assessment of various programmes. The Centre, she said, was free to make laws on subjects included in the Union and the concurrent lists as well. But in such cases, the task force had put the onus of financial burden on the Centre and not on the states, she pointed out.

As for the implementation of the RTE Act, she said the state government had sought a Central assistance of Rs 22,868 crore for the first three years for its proper implementation. Instead of conceding the demand, she said, Sibal had rather chosen to engage himself in cheap politics.

Mayawati said UP was not the only state to have asked for additional funds for implementing the RTE Act. A similar demand, she said, had also been raised by states like West Bengal, MP, Karnataka, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and the Congress-ruled Andhra Pradesh which too had expressed their inability to bear the financial burden needed for the implementation of RTE Act.

She said Sibal should not shift the responsibility for failure of the Central government, but should sincerely think about implementation of RTE Act by arranging the funds for all the state governments for this purpose.

High level jockeying for child rights panel posts

High level jockeying for child rights panel posts
Himanshi Dhawan, TNN, Jul 27, 2010, 04.00am IST

NEW DELHI: The who's who of Delhi is pitching for their nominee in the child rights' panel. The women and child development (WCD) ministry has received as many as 130 recommendations for the six-member National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) with the Prime Minister's Office, senior Cabinet ministers and Congress leaders all lobbying to get their man in the position.

Incidentally, the maximum number of recommendations have been sent by NCPCR chairperson Shanta Sinha at 10 while Congress treasurer Motilal Vora and senior AICC functionary Oscar Fernandes have recommended nine names each. The PMO has forwarded three names including those of former NCPCR member Sandhya Bajaj, NGO Butterflies' Gerry Pinto and social activist from Arunachal Pradesh Jarjum Ete. Cabinet ministers including Veerappa Moily, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Vayalar Ravi and A Raja have also sent names of their nominees.

While Sinha was reappointed chairperson in May, appointments for the rest have been hanging fire since the last two months. The high-level screening committee headed by WCD minister Krishna Tirath is expected to meet on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

Among other contenders for the posts are Delhi child rights panel chief Amod Kant, SOS Children's Village national director Pradeep Singh, National Advisory Council member Harsh Mander and Unicef advisor A K Shivakumar.

In response to an RTI query by NGO Pratidhi's Raaj Mangal Prasad, the WCD ministry said the selection process was still underway. Prasad, who has also applied for the position, had asked for the number of applications received, details of names recommended and by whom. The eligibility criteria for NCPCR members is a person of eminence with experience and expertise in subjects like child psychology, child health, development and welfare, juvenile justice and laws related to children.

Pratidhi had earlier challenged the appointment of NCPCR members citing selection through a non-transparent process with eligibility criteria being given a backseat in the face of political compulsions.

Dress code for Orissa school teachers

Five years after Orissa started uniform dress code for college students, the state government, now, is all set to impose a similar code for the teachers of elementary and upper primary schools.

Orissa’s School and Mass Education Department which governs the state’s primary, upper primary and high schools, on Monday asked the male teachers to start wearing black pants and sky blue shirts and woman teachers pink sari and black blouse. The dress code for teachers of Class I to Class VIII would come into effect from August 15.

School and Mass Education Secretary Aaparajita Sarangi told The Indian Express that the dress code was an attempt to curb teacher absenteeism, a major cause behind falling education standards in schools. “Apart from checking absenteeism, the dress code would raise the self esteem of the teachers. The idea of uniform was liked by several teachers,” she said. In the first phase over 10,000 teachers in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Berhampur would follow the dress code. “Depending on the response, we would ask teachers in other cities to start wearing uniforms,” she added.

In the second phase, the dress code would be applicable in Puri, Nayagarh, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Balasore, Dhenkanal, Sambalpur, Bargarh, Deogarh and Bolangir districts.

Sarangi said plan for dress code for high school teahers is also in the pipeline.

In 2005, the then state higher education minister Sameer Dey had banned girls from wearing short clothes on the campuses of 23 autonomous colleges of the state.

'Sidelined school panels played big role in SSA rollout'

'Sidelined school panels played big role in SSA rollout'
Akshaya Mukul, TNN, Jul 27, 2010, 01.33am IST

NEW DELHI: There may be a move to give an advisory role to School Management Committees under the Right to Education Act but a study conducted for the HRD ministry across 14 states shows that SMCs -- known by different nomenclatures like village education committee/school management committee/parent teacher association etc -- played a crucial role in monitoring the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan at the grassroot level.

In fact, the study recommends legislative measures to accord statutory status to these committees with larger representation of parents. Under RTE, SMCs have a crucial role but there is a move to give them an advisory role in case of minority institutions and aided schools. Since SSA is being aligned with the RTE, SMCs will replace similar committees that have existed under different nomenclatures so far.

The study done across 42 districts and 1,006 schools shows 22.2% parents feel that such a committee helps to a large extent in improving the functioning of the school, 30.5% feel it helps to some extent and only 10.3% feel it does not help at all. As for teachers' perception, 33% of them feel such a committee fully helps, 53% feel it partly helps and 14% feel it does not help at all. As for committee members, 74% said they are satisfied with the functioning while 26% were not. However, the study shows that when it comes to functioning of teachers these committees are not so effective.

The study shows that the children were being persuaded to come to school by the committees through door-to-door campaigns, discussion with parents, prabhat pheris, and meetings with community leaders.

The study also shows that 32.2% members of these committees make daily visits to schools while 42.7% of chairpersons of the committees went to school on a daily or weekly basis. Discussions between teachers and committee members are frequent in case of 43% schools.

As for the awareness about the role and functions of the committees, Uttarakhand is on top with 90.4% respondents aware about them followed by 87.5% in Jharkhand and 76.3% in Haryana. Madhya Pradesh is at the bottom with only 26% people aware of it, West Bengal at 36% and Bihar at 40.8% are three least aware states.

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1100727/jsp/northeast/story_12296174.jsp

Tripura faces teacher crunch
- School upgrade without infrastructure adds to woes
SEKHAR DATTA

Agartala, July 26: The Tripura government’s much-touted success in creating infrastructure for higher education and raising the state’s literacy level is all set to be overshadowed by a crippling shortage of schoolteachers and unplanned upgrade of schools.

Though a teacher recruitment drive is on, the shortfall in teaching staff will persist as teachers are not being taken in adequate number despite vacancies sanctioned by the finance department.

Tripura has 4,287 schools, including 311 higher secondary schools. The number includes schools under the Autonomous District Council (ADC), but there is a shortage of 14,875 teachers cutting across all categories of schools, according to information provided by the department of school education .

The shortfall is being addressed by the recruitment drive being undertaken, but sanctioned vacancies will remain even after that.

“There is a shortage of 8,707 graduate teachers but the school education department has issued offers of appointment for only 4,856 teachers leaving a shortfall of 3,851 graduate teachers. Besides, posts of 4,951 undergraduate teachers and 1,217 post-graduate teachers are lying vacant but less than half the number will be recruited after the ADC polls,” the deputy director of education, D.K. Basu said, adding despite the current recruitment drive the problem of shortage will continue to dog the schools, particularly those in rural and hilly areas of the state.

There are 116 schools without a headmaster while 55 higher secondary schools continue to be short of subject teachers.

“With the right to education becoming a fundamental right, the problem will be more acute as we will need many more teachers though it is a national problem; in the context of Tripura the upgrade of schools without proper human and material infrastructure has emerged a big problem. Last year, of 2,378 junior basic schools, 205 have been upgraded to senior basic level while 43 senior basic schools, mostly in hilly and interior areas, of a total of 1,139 have been upgraded to high schools,” Basu said, adding that besides teachers, many schools were without proper toilets and other essential facilities.

In most cases, upgrades were enforced in response to local demands without creating facilities.

During the past decade, the Tripura government has created a strong infrastructure for higher education by setting up two medical colleges and a number of higher technical colleges including agricultural and fishery college, nursing college, paramedical college and two engineering colleges including the NIT, Agartala.

The erosion in school education standard and lack of quality teaching have emerged as major bottlenecks. The literacy rate in the state has also grown over the deca-de rapidly despite insurgency.

“In the 2001 census, Tripura’s overall literacy rate had been recorded at 73.66 per cent but with effective implementation of programmes like Sarva Shiksha and literacy mission, the literacy rate rose to 81 per cent by October last year.

“The net gain is bound to be reflected in the ongoing census operations and Tripura is likely to emerge as the second most literate state in Northeast after Mizoram but the standard of school education is not what it should have been as falling success rates in the school-leaving exams conducted by the Tripura Board of Secondary Education,” Basu said.

Elaborating how even a well-intentioned programme like midday meal could create a problem, Nirmalendu Ghosh, headmaster of Debipur High School in West Tripura and an office bearer of pro-CPM Tripura Government Teachers Association, said for providing midday meals to students up to Class VIII, two teachers are assigned the task of supervision and a lot of time is “wasted” in preparing the meal and serving it.

“To add to our woes, keeping an account of the entire process saps my energy daily, the midday meal programme is a real headache now,” Ghosh said.

“All the students of altogether 3,517 designated junior and senior basics and students up to Class VIII in 459 high schools are covered by the midday meal programme which tells upon the teaching atmosphere but the programme is mandated by the apex court,” said Ghosh.

The quality of teaching staff and deployment of teachers for extra-academic functions like census operations, below-poverty-line survey, election duty also affect proper functioning of schools. “Maybe the problem exists in every state but that does not solve our problem, every year teachers have to be sent on deputation for other government functions and the plethora of elections from panchayat to Lok Sabha. Even now teachers have been put on duty in census operations. This affects proper functioning of schools,” the deputy inspector of schools in tribal-dominated Jampui block, Sabita Debbarma, said.

She said the current strength of 34,985 teachers in Tripura would soon rise to over 40,000after the ongoing recruitment drive is over but that would not solve the problem of school education.

“Actually what is needed is a thorough overhaul of the system and insulation of school education from extraneous matters like deployment of teachers in non-academic work.”
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Soon, educational institutions to have own panel to check food quality

Soon, educational institutions to have own panel to check food quality

Following the mid-day meal incident that left 127 civic school students ill on Friday, the civic health department has decided to direct all educational institutions to constitute a committee to check quality of food served to students on their premises. The incident has also brought to focus lack of coordination among departments concerned.

“It is mandatory for food-related business in the civic jurisdiction to have a licence. The education board never consulted or intimated the health department on appointment of women self-help groups for supplying mid-day meal,” said PMC health department chief, R R Pardeshi.

The urban community department had recently asked the health department to check whether the cooking by self-help groups was hygienic. “The health department, after inspection, conveyed to the urban community department that the cooking place of was not hygienic,” Pardeshi said.

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There was no system to check food quality, he said. “All educational institutes would be asked to ensure no agency be allowed to serve food on their premises if they don’t have a licence from the civic body. The respective committees of the educational institute should check food quality as it is not possible for the civic administration to keep a check.”

Vilas Kanade who is in charge of the PMC urban community department on the other hand, said there was no clause in the agreement signed the education board that the agencies should have a food licence.

Education Board official Ramchandra Jadhav said they were not responsible for appointment of agencies for mid-day meal. “We have been complaining to the civic body about the poor quality food served in mid-day meal scheme. There was no response from the administration,” he said, adding that the process for appointment of new agency has been started.

The board has sought expression of interest from agencies that meet set norms, Jadhav said.

Monday, July 26, 2010

SC seeks response on public funds for schools

SC seeks response on public funds for schools

Primarily, they all may be Government schools, but annual expenditure on a child in Kendriya Vidyalaya (Central schools) works out to Rs 11,000 per annum whereas in an ordinary Government school, it adds up to merely Rs 1,800 a year. On Friday, this was brought to the attention of the Supreme Court which sought a response from the Union and all the state governments on the evident “discriminatory provisions using public funds”.

A Bench, comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam, was informed of how different sets of schools, existing in the public education system, were engaging in “unjust and arbitrary discrimination” against children.

“State cannot adopt discriminatory provisions of schooling to cater to different groups using public funds as it would violate the basic principles of equality and social justice,” contended the PIL filed by Social Jurist, an NGO based in Delhi.

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Advocate Ashok Agarwal, the petitioner’s counsel, submitted that using public finds, the state had to provide schools of comparable quality to all the children who seek education through state or state-supported schools.

Seeking replies from the Ministry of HRD and all the state governments, the court also sought a response as to why so far Article 21-A (right to education) had not been enforced. Agarwal essentially sought a direction for enforcement of the Fundamental Right to Elementary Education.

The PIL also brought out the deplorable state of elementary education in India, with a large number of schools lacking both academic and physical infrastructure, resulting in large-scale dropouts among children in the age group of 6-14 years.

The state had failed to provide good quality education to all the children, especially those belonging to backward classes and minorities, the petition further stated.

Karate training scheme for girls gets nod

Karate training scheme for girls gets nod
TNN, Jul 18, 2010, 11.46pm IST

PANAJI: Several schemes that the Directorate of Education (DoE) has proposed over the last two years are finally set to see the light of the day under the Centre's Rashtriya Madhaymik Shiksha Abhiyan.


Among those that have already been approved under the central programme is martial arts training for girls from classes VIII to X, sources said. It is set to be launched in the state within the next couple of years.


The DoE had also proposed the revival of the Infrastructure Loan Scheme which was discontinued in 2004. Under the scheme, the DoE proposed to provide government-aided schools with grants as per their individual requirements in order to upgrade infrastructure.


The DoE has also proposed a revision of the Opportunity Cost Scheme wherein the yearly grant provided to students from classes I to XII belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) will be raised. While the aid given per student at the primary level will be increased to Rs 750 per annum, the grant provided to SC and ST students from class V to VIII will be hiked from to Rs 1000.


All these schemes will now be put forth to the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan for approval.


While the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is for the universalisation of elementary education, Rashtriya Madhaymik Shiksha Abhiyan will serve the same purpose for education from class VIII to XI. Its aim is to make quality education accessible, affordable and available to those in the age group of 14 to 18 years. tnn

Orissa fares worse than many African countries

Orissa fares worse than many African countries

Sanjeev Kumar Patro
First Published : 20 Jul 2010 07:29:23 AM IST
Last Updated : 20 Jul 2010 11:34:36 AM IST

BHUBANESWAR: Here is a shocker. Orissa now fares worse in poverty than African countries like Kenya, Republic of Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is worse than Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The state of affairs has been revealed by the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) of UK-based Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative.

In the MPI, Orissa has been assigned a value of 0.345. In terms of head count, a whopping 64 per cent of the population has been categorised as poor. The average intensity of deprivation here is measured at 0.54, which is higher than Chhattisgarh. Orissa’s contribution in India’s composite MPI stands at 4.3 per cent.

The figure is seven per cent higher than the 57 per cent BPL population identified by the Tendulkar Committee recently. Orissa was the poorest in the Tendulkar Committee report but MPI has put the ‘poorest’ tag on Bihar. It has placed Orissa ahead of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar.

Why this discrepancy? MPI is different to the income poverty index. It has three dimensions like education, health and standard of living. A household is identified as multidimensionally poor if, and only if, it is deprived in some combination of the indicators like schooling, child enrolment, child mortality, nutrition, electricity, sanitation, drinking water, flooring, cooking fuel and assets.

In Orissa, the proportion of the poor deprived of schooling stands at 0.23 and child enrolment at 0.19. Here Orissa fares worse than Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and UP. The deprivation proportion stands at 0.24 in child mortality and 0.45 in nutrition. Orissa is way ahead than the BIMARU states except Rajasthan. In the barometer of standard of living, Orissa fares better than the BIMARU states. But, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan show better results than Orissa in electricity connections.

However, the coverage of education and health to the poor households has increased in Orissa, thanks to Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and National Rural Health Mission. The provisioning of sanitation and potable water too has improved. And these improvements have helped Orissa carving a higher rank than other BIMARU states in the multidimensional poverty index.

Article 30 and RTE Act need to be reconciled: Jamiat Ulama-e-Hindc

Article 30 and RTE Act need to be reconciled: Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind


New Delhi, 26th July: “The Right to Education Act is a welcome step because it will revolutionize education system in India, but some aspects of this Act clash with the Article 30 of the Constitution of India, and this needs to be amicably resolved through amendments.” said Mahmood Madani, leader Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind while addressing media persons in Delhi on Saturday.

The Article 30 of the Constitution of India allows minorities “the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.” It was largely due to Article 30 that till now, madarsas have been fairly independent from the government.

They didn’t have to, necessarily, take recognition from the government. RTE Act defines “school” whether government, aided or private as any “recognised school” imparting elementary education. All the problems arise from the fact that this definition does not include madrasas. Now the question arise that how the government is planning to deal with madarsa after the enactment of RTE.

Unfortunately neither the RTE Act nor the HRD minister has been very clear on this,leaving the scope for speculation, fear and opposition among the minorities towards this path breaking Act. Interestingly RTE Act also doesn’t have any thing to say on what will be the fate of bodies like National Commission for Minorities Educational Institutions, which make policy for minority education in India.

Although Mr. Salman Khursheed, minister for minority affairs, has dismissed apprehensions of Muslim organizations about future of madarsas after implementation of the act from April 30, 2010 but he hasn’t gone into much detail as to what are the safeguards that madarsas have against the above mentioned stringent provisions of the Act.

Talking to twoCircles.net, Mr. Madani pointed out that “we are concerned here about not only madarsas but also about thousands of private small schools, which impart education to millions of children in India.

They impart education to a class of society, which doesn’t have access to the expensive education of big private schools. RTE Act, in its present form will ensure their closure and thereby deprive millions of children from education." Another problematic aspect is that Section 18 of the RTE Act makes “a certificate of recognition” mandatory for all schools.

And Section 19 prescribes stringent conditions -such as building and classroom pecifications, teacher-student ratio, study hours, library and playground facilities- for obtaining recognition. Mr. Madani pointed out that “ironically if these stringent conditions for obtaining recognition were to be implemented, government schools will be the first ones which will be derecognized.

The fact of the matter is that the kind of country India is, it is almost impossible for small schools to meet condition of teacher-student ratio, study hours, library and playground facilities as envisaged in the Act.” In order to sort out these “negative aspects” of the RTE Act, Maulana Mahmood Madani, M.P leader Jamiat Ulama-i- Hind and Mr, Kamal Faruqui, former chairman, Delhi minorities commission, have convened a common representative conference on August, 5 2010.

It will have representation from major national level Muslim organizations, institutions educationists and legal experts, including 250 leading Ulama. Mr. Kamal Faruqui told media persons that, K. Rahman Khan, Deputy Chairman Rajya Sabha, Mr. Kapil Sibal, Union Minister of HRD, Mr. Salman Khurshid, Minister of Minority Affairs, Mr. Virappa Moily, Union Minister of Law & Justice and Mr.

Ghulam Nabi Azam, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, apart from all Muslim members of the parliament and important official and representative from cross community, are expected to attend this conference.

Mr. Faruqui pointed out that after the conference, a national level working group would be constituted which will, after discussion and debate on August, 6 2010, come out with a road map on how to deal with the negative aspects of the RTE Act. That working group will set the agenda for practical strategy and memorandum of demands to the government.

Source: c2clive desk.