Monday, March 28, 2011

School in Dharavi on closure course over fund crunch

School in Dharavi on closure course over fund crunch
Shreya Bhandary, TNN | Mar 28, 2011, 12.26am IST

MUMBAI: At a time when the Right to Education (RTE) Act is assuring students free education till elementary school (Std VIII), the primary section of a school in Dharavi plans to shut down due to lack of funds.

This and other minority institutes in the state are facing similar problems after the government stopped grants to students from backward classes since 2007. Also parents of most students cannot afford the fees.

Ganesh Vidya Mandir is the only Marathi medium school in Dharavi and being a minority institute, most students there come from backward classes.

"Earlier, grants from the government covered students' fees and teachers' salaries. Now, the situation is very bad," said Mahadev Khandare, a school employee.

Since 2007, parents have been paying only Rs 50 a month, instead of Rs 350, and the management claimed it had exhausted its funds. "Almost all parents are daily wage workers. They can't afford to pay more," Khandare added.

The school authorities have approached various officials for help but to no avail. "Our teachers have not been paid salaries since June last year as the management is running out of funds. The teachers stopped receiving provident fund almost 18 months ago," Khandare added. Staff members are looking for sponsors to keep the school running. "The teachers don't have much of an option, so they are trying their best," Khandare said.

The government stopped grants to minority institutes after the matter went to court in 2007.

The court questioned the criteria on the basis of which a school was declared a minority institute. The government was also questioned about the unequal distribution of minority schools in the city.

"Some areas had more than three to four such schools while other areas had none. The government was forced to rethink the policy and since then, minority institutes across the state stopped receiving grants," said Naseem Siddiqui, chairman, State Minority Commission.

Over the past few years, several minority institutes have been given permission to be set up but on a conditional basis- no grants from the government.

"We have tried to persuade the government to resume the grants, at least small amounts, so that schools don't shut down. We are waiting for a positive reply," Siddiqui added.

RTE: Schools asked to fall in line

RTE: Schools asked to fall in line
Madhuri Kumar, TNN | Mar 27, 2011, 09.43pm IST

PATNA: The district administration, at a review meet held here on Sunday, once again directed the managements of all the 65 private public schools in the state capital to implement the Right to Education (RTE) Act provisions strictly and submit their compliance report to the state government latest by March 31.

"So far 23 schools have submitted the compliance report, while other schools have been redirected to abide by the directive to reserve 25% seats for the underprivileged children in their schools and submit a report by March 31," said Patna DM Sanjay Kumar Singh.

"Now when we have announced our admission lists for Montessori sections and Class I, there is still a lot of hue and cry over it. Many schools have issued their admission list on their website apprehending ruckus on their premises. Anguished parents, whose children have not been selected through this random selection procedure, are now threatening to lodge complaints with the Child Rights Protection Commission constituted under RTE," said the president of Association of Heads of Christian Schools (AHCS), Alfred George D Rozario.

"The schools are still in a dilemma over the definition of underprivileged ," added the AHCS president.

However, the DM added that schools had already been given a clear cut directive on underprivileged quota and there was no scope for any ambiguity. "We have reiterated the point and clarified every aspect at today's meeting," he said.

"Schools should admit candidates from SC/ST, OBC, Dalit and Mahadalit community and these children should be residents of localities falling under a radius of one to three km of the school concerned," said district education officer (DEO), Patna, Kiran Kumari.

"The schools have also been asked not to wait for the SC directive and implement RTE at the earliest," added the DEO.

"Agreed that the schools have been asked to admit children residing in a radius of one to three km. But who will measure the radius and who will certify the accuracy of the residential address of the child filled up in the admission form?," said the principal of a private school .

Meanwhile, chairperson of Bihar Child Rights Protection Commission (BCRPC) Nisha Jha said she has received several written complaints from aggrieved parents citing flaws in the admission process.

"We are again organizing a meeting on Monday with the aggrieved parents and school managements to decide on the admission criteria," added Jha.

12,000 Right to Education violations in New Delhi Monday, 28 March 2011 01:01

12,000 Right to Education violations in New Delhi Monday, 28 March 2011 01:01

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The case was resolved after the commission intervened and issued a notice to the school. “Then again, there were complaints that after obtaining registration form free of cost, parents were not invited to witness the draw of lots under the EWS category. IANS

UP govt protecting education mafia: BJP

UP govt protecting education mafia: BJP

LUCKNOW: UP BJP came down heavily on the state government for protecting education mafia and its activities during the ongoing board examinations.

In a release issued on Saturday, party spokesperson Dr Manoj Mishra demanded to know as to why a record number of over 8 lakh students left the exams mid way. "This development calls for some serious rethink and the government must launch an enquiry to get to the bottom of the mystery," he said.

The party spokesperson also shifted the blame for wide scale copying to the officials of the higher secondary board and their education directorate. The Maya government has been following the money making agenda relentlessly since the very beginning and this is the reason it is forced to turn a blind eye to the nefarious activities around, he alleged.

"This is also the reason why the education department has not been able to check the copy mafia. Education sector is one of the most lucrative field for the BSP, therefore no action is expected against the culprits," he said.

The party, Mishra said demands a probe into the charges of mass copying and also stringent action against the guilty including incompetent officials of the UP Board.

Parents have the right to choose the language of their child’s education

Parents have the right to choose the language of their child’s education
Tomazinho Cardozo, TNN | Mar 27, 2011, 06.06am IST

PANAJI: The massive rally of parents at Azad Maidan in Panaji recently demanded in one voice that an option be given to them to choose the medium of instruction in government-aided primary schools. Some newspersons distorted the content of the demand and published that the parents want English only as the medium of instruction at the primary level of education. Such distorted information gave the impression that parents wanted to stop primary education in Konkani and Marathi. This was intentionally done to create anti-English emotions among the people.

The content of the demand put forth by the Forum for Rights of Children's Education (FORCE) is crystal clear. Today there is an option to choose between Konkani and Marathi as the medium of instruction at the primary level. Parents have demanded that this option be extended to English as well. In other words, parents want the government to give them the right to chose between Konkani, Marathi and English instead of just Konkani and Marathi at the primary level of education.

There is no doubt that the universal pedagogy is to have primary education in the mother tongue. This concept is very effective because the rest of the child's higher education is also done in the same language-the mother tongue. Most European nations are concrete examples in which elementary as well as higher education, including professional education, is done in the mother tongue. Is it appropriate to make this concept applicable to educational situations in our country, including Goa, where the education from Class V onwards is in English?

For argument's sake, let's consider that the mother tongue is the best language for primary education in Goa. Is primary education in Goa imparted in the mother tongue? In 1990 the government made Konkani or Marathi the languages of primary education in Goa through the circular (No. DE/Acad.I/Policy Decision/Medium/Pry/344/90/1234 dated May 21, 1990).

I quote the first statement of that circular: "The medium of instruction at the primary stage in all government and non-government recognized schools shall be the mother tongue of the child i.e. Konkani/Marathi/regional language of the state." From the sentence it appears that "Konkani, Marathi and regional language of the state" are all mother tongues.

How many mother tongues does Goa have? As far as I am concerned the mother tongue of Goans is Konkani, so how can Marathi fit into the pedagogic concept of primary education? Mind you, I am not against primary education in Marathi at all because it existed even during Portuguese rule.

Can educationists who are the protagonists of elementary education in the mother tongue explain to us in clear terms the position of Marathi as far as the universal concept of primary education in the mother tongue in Goa is concerned? Otherwise accept that Goa has two mother tongues-Konkani and Marathi-or else do not apply a pedagogical definition to primary education in Goa.

If the Goa government can give grants to have primary education in any language other than the mother tongue of Goans then where is the hassle in giving grants to primary education in English, which is also not the mother tongue of Goans? What parents are asking for is their democratic right to secure a better future for their children. Are the parents of students demanding their right to choose the medium of instruction not tax-payers like the parents of students undergoing primary education in Konkani or Marathi?

The accusation by some protagonists of elementary education in the mother tongue that primary education in English will render our children de-nationalized and de-cultured is also a myth. No language inculcates nationalism and love for culture in our children. Therefore language is not important. What is significant is the content of teaching, i.e. the curriculum. Besides it is the influence of teachers, parents and society which helps in inculcating the values of nationalism, patriotism, love for culture, etc, in our children.

Today we observe anti-social activities throughout the country. Terrorism, murders and rapes are increasing day by day. According to me these are the people who are already de-nationalized and de-cultured. I wonder in which language all these terrorists, murderers and rapists had their primary education. Is it not through their mother tongues?

These elements have turned themselves into dreaded human beings not because of the language of their primary education but because of the atmosphere and circumstances in which they grew. Let us therefore not link de-nationalization and de-culturization to the language of the medium of instruction.

The time has come for the government to act decisively. We live in the 21 st century. The government has to keep pace with the rest of the world if it wishes to achieve greater heights for Goa and its people. Hence it is the duty of the government to give all required facilities to its citizens to develop their skills-intellectual, physical, emotional-to face the challenges of the modern world without any discrimination. And primary education in the English medium with one compulsory subject in the mother tongue is one such facility that will help the citizens face the challenges of modern times.

System to contain school dropout fails

ystem to contain school dropout fails
Parvesh sharma, TNN | Mar 27, 2011, 03.30am IST

PATIALA: It was launched to contain school dropout rate of Punjab, but the seeming indifference of the authorities may lead to failure of the child tracking system (CTS) in the state.

Despite clear directions to the education department officers to get the photos of all school dropouts clicked to be put on forms, 39,197 forms of CTS have been filled without photos during the last some months, which has raised serious questions about the process. As per sources around two years ago a door-to-door survey conducted by the education department in Punjab revealed that out of the total 42,70,985 children in the age group of 6 to 14 years in the state, 1,00,457 were not enrolled in school.

The survey had also revealed that the Malwa region had maximum number of children in the state in this age group who were not attending school. To increase the number of young school-going children, the Punjab education department had started the CTS in Punjab and recruited special volunteers to collect the details of all school dropouts in all the districts.

The volunteers were directed to convince poor parents to send their children to government schools for their proper education. Though the education department has been repeatedly directing it's officers to fill all forms of school dropouts with the latest photos of the children, but not a single district out of the total 20 have filed forms of all the dropouts along with the mandatory photos. Ludhiana has the highest number of forms, 7,129, that have been filled without photos, while Moga has a figure of 4,103, followed by Amritsar, with 4,079 forms. After a warning from the seniors in some districts, officers have got the photos of school dropouts clicked, while in other districts, officers say there are no funds for taking photographs of the children.

"Our officers have clicked the photos of all dropout in the age group of 6 to 14 years and are scanning these. This would be completed before March 31," said Patiala district education officer Varsha Shukla. Repeated efforts to contact Punjab education minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan proved futile as his mobile was switched off.

In many districts it has come to light that after enrolling their children in schools with the effort of government officers, many parents took their children out of schools and started sending them to work. In the absence of photos it's impossible for education department officers to keep a check on all dropouts of their respective districts.

Principals' forum to carry out RTE Act effectively formed

Principals' forum to carry out RTE Act effectively formed
TNN | Mar 27, 2011, 12.22am IST

PUNE: A 30-member principals' forum has been formed by the privately-run English medium schools in the city to understand and implement the Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, during a seminar on RTE on Saturday.

The Right to Education Act (RTE) entitles every child in the age group of 6-14 years free and compulsory elementary education in a neighbourhood school.

The idea of setting up the forum was proposed by Malati Kalmadi, secretary, Kannada Sangha, Pune, during the seminar 'Right to Education Act - what does it mean for school heads?' jointly organised by Kannada Sangha's Kaveri Group of Institutes and Shikshangan Foundation.

Kalmadi said, "Though the RTE Act is already in effect and the state government is in the advanced stages of finalising its rules and regulations, the awareness about the law is very low, especially about the responsibilities of schools."

She added that the seminar was the first step in making the school heads aware of the law, so that they are on the right side of the law while abiding by the norms of RTE Act. "The proposed Principals' Forum will serve as common platform for all of them to discuss issues pertaining to its implementation," Kalmadi said.

An expert panel comprising Prakash Parab, education officer, Zilla Parishad; Neelima Mysore; Vijay Gupta and Devika Nadig, founders of Shikshangan Foundation, was constituted during the seminar to address queries of principals of various schools in the city.

Apart from describing the law, under which every school will have to admit 25 per cent students from the weaker sections of the society and provide free education to them, the panel also shared some other important norms like no screening procedure for admission, only random selection, free education, no tuition fees, no capitation fees, no child to be held back till std VIII, no corporal punishment and so on.

Many participants raised questions about promoting the non-performing students to the next levels. Parab said, "It is clearly mentioned that the school needs to initiate the process of remedial teaching for such students."

Fissures in Goa coalition over medium of instruction

Fissures in Goa coalition over medium of instruction
2011-03-26 16:30:00

Panaji, March 26 (IANS) Fissure have begun to appear in Goa's Congress-led coalition government over the controversy related the medium of instruction (MOI) in schools.

The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), a regional party supporting the alliance, has said that they would step out of the coalition if English is made the medium of instruction in Goa's schools.

MGP's working president Narayan Sawant told a news conference Saturday that the party legislators were backing Konkani and Marathi as the MOI.

'We will continue our support to the languages even at the cost of losing ministerial berth in the state government,' Sawant said.

Education Minister Atanasio Monserrate and several Catholic legislators in the state have backed English as the MOI.

'Many people are attracted towards English, but that cannot mean that we should support it with grants,' Sawant said.

'We back the Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM), which has decided to launch an agitation opposing English as the medium of instruction. The MGP will mobilise mass support against English,' Dhavalikar said.

The Forum for Rights of Children's Education (FORCE), a citizens' front backed by a section of Catholic politicians and the clergy, has backed English and have organised massive rallies of parents, while the Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM), supported by a section of the freedom fighters and rightwing protagonists have backed both Konkani and Marathi languages as a medium of instruction.

The debate in Goa comes against the backdrop of the central Right to Education (RTE) Act, which envisions the child's mother tongue - in Goa's case Konkani -- as the medium of instruction in schools.

The act is scheduled to be ratified in the state assembly soon.

At present the Goa government offers aid and grants only to schools in which Konkani or Marathi is used as the medium. Schools with English as the medium of instruction are not provided with government grand-in-aid.

Delhi govt delaying allocation of Rs 80 cr for education: MCD

Delhi govt delaying allocation of Rs 80 cr for education: MCD
PTI | 05:03 PM,Mar 26,2011

New Delhi, Mar 26 (PTI) The MCD today claimed that Delhi government is delaying an allocation of Rs 80 crore to its Education Department and the paucity of funds is putting obstacles in implementing welfare projects for the students. Mahinder Nagpal, Chairman of MCD Education Committee, said that he has written a letter to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Chief Minister of Delhi Sheila Dikshit, seeking their intervention in release of the fund in the current session itself. According to Nagpal, the MCD's Education Department was to get Rs 80 crore of the total grant in the month of January, but it has not been allocated so far. The money was to be spent on different plan heads like Rs 50 lakh on physical education, Rs 12 crore on mid-day meal, Rs 37.5 crore on welfare of the students and Rs 30 crore on construction of school buildings, he said.

Andhra Pradesh government gives English push at primary education level

Andhra Pradesh government gives English push at primary education level
Published: Saturday, Mar 26, 2011, 10:00 IST
Place: Hyderabad | Agency: PTI

With English increasingly becoming the preferred language of education even among the students hailing from poorer sections of the society and also rural areas, the Andhra Pradesh government has decided to lay emphasis on English right from Class I in its schools.

Accordingly, English will now be taught as the second language from Class I from 2011-12 academic year, minister for primary education Sake Sailajanath said.

"The basic idea is to provide access to children from poorer sections as well as rural areas to English education right from Class I rather than Class III (the current policy), so that they compete with students of private schools," Sailajanath told Press Trust of India.

A report by the Regional Institute of English (RIE), (Bangalore) has established that the percentage of enrolment of students in government schools has drastically reduced from 84.48% to 55.72% in primary and upper primary schools, whereas admissions in the private residential schools increased from 17.52% to 44.28% in the period from 1995-96 to 2009-10 in Andhra Pradesh.

In respect of Telugu medium, enrolment percentage in Class I to Class X for the period 2000-01 to 2009-10 in Government schools reduced from 83.47 per cent to 65.54 per cent, while English medium enrolment increased from 13.77% to 31.66%.

"It was observed that most parents in rural areas are withdrawing their children from government Telugu medium schools due to lack of English teaching," the report noted.

RIE has recommended introduction of English from Class I without making it a burden for the children to learn it most effectively in the early years.

The Andhra Pradesh government hopes that the introduction of English from Class I will help in increasing the enrolment of students and helping them at later stage of their education.

The State Council of Educational Research and Training had also proposed the introduction of English as a second language from Class I in government schools and recommended development of effective textbooks from Class I to V reflecting constructive pedagogy as recommended by National Curriculum Framework 2005.

It also recommended development of appropriate reading material and learning cards for effective English language acquisition and developing textbooks in coordination with the RIE.

Maoists blow up school building in Bihar

Maoists blow up school building in Bihar
Barachatti (Bihar), Sun, 27 Mar 2011 ANI

Barachatti (Bihar), Mar.27 (ANI): A group of around 50 Maoists belonging to the Bhakpa group blew up a school building in the Maoist infested Barachatti block of the Gaya District in Bihar using explosives.


The gang also torched the house of Vijay Yaday, one of the members of rival Maoists group Shastra Pratirodh Manch (SPM), as they suspected him of being a police agent.

Veena Devi, wife of Vijay Yadav, said: " They asked us to open the door, but when I refused they threatened to kill us. I opened the door in fear but before I could do that, two of them jumped over the wall, and dragged all our family members out of the house and torched all our belongings by sprinkling petrol and kerosene oil," adding that there were around 50 men present at the time.


None of the Yadav family members have been harmed in the incident.


The Maoist insurgency has gripped nearly one-third of the country in violence, spreading into rural pockets of 20 of India's 28 states.


Initially, the Maoists contended that they were fighting for the cause of the poor and weaker sections of the society.


However, over the past two decades the 'mass struggle for rights' has turned into a violent unrest, with the rebels targeting policemen and government establishments to prove their point. (ANI)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

orced to obey ‘must pass’ norm under RTE, govt schools worried about students’

Forced to obey ‘must pass’ norm under RTE, govt schools worried about students’

Government school teachers and authorities are finding it increasingly hard to implement the Right to Education Act, under which it has become mandatory to pass all students from class I to class VIII.

A school headmaster, however, said, “There are some students who are too weak in class VIII. It would be wrong to promote them in class IX. These students will become a burden to us after reaching Class X and will thus affect our board results.”

Harpal Kaur, District Education officer (Elementary) Ludhiana said, “We have already issued circulars to all the government schools telling them not to fail any students till class VIII under the RTE Act and the schools are supposed to strictly follow it.”

A mathematics and science teacher of a government high school said, “The students of class VIII and VII are good in other subjects but quite weak in maths and science. If we pass them and promote them to the next class, it will lead to a chaotic situation for us. It would be difficult to make them learn tough syllabus of the next classes when they had failed the previous ones.”

Meanwhile the schools are feverishly wondering as to whether they should strictly follow the RTE Act, or their own counsel.

Bihar opposition protests lack of salaries to teachers

Bihar opposition protests lack of salaries to teachers
2011-03-25 13:40:00

Patna, March 25 (IANS) Opposition legislators Friday staged a noisy protest against the Bihar government's failure to pay salaries to 2.5 lakh primary school teachers for months.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Lok Janshakti Party, the Congress and the Communist Party of India (CPI) members demonstrated outside the Bihar assembly complex and demanded immediate release of their dues to the primary teachers.

They shouted slogans against Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for spending crores of rupees in the name of Bihar Divas celebrations, but not paying the salaries to school teachers.

'It is the real face of Nitish Kumar's model of development. Lakhs of primary school teachers have not received salaries for months on but the state government celebrated Bihar Divas for its image building,' Leader of Opposition in the Bihar assembly Abdul Bari Siddiqui told IANS.

Basudev Singh, leader of the Primary School Teachers' Association, said: 'These teachers celebrated Holi without money. But the Bihar government is busy propagating that the state is changing and developed. One can imagine the teachers' frustration.'

Bihar Human Resource Development Minister P.K. Sahi admitted that due to work for the three-day Bihar Divas celebration, school teachers were not paid their salaries.

However, primary school teachers in the state say they have not received their salaries for six to 10 months. Some teachers have not received it from almost three years.
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MCD workshop on corporal punishment

MCD workshop on corporal punishment
Risha Chitlangia, TNN, Mar 25, 2011, 12.11am IST

NEW DELHI: With an aim to sensitize its teachers on corporal punishment, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has roped in NGOs. The civic agency along with NCERT is organizing a special workshop on corporal punishment on Friday.

The special training sessions will be part of the ongoing training programme for teachers on Right to Education and understanding behavioral patterns of children. "It is important to educate teachers about the changing needs of students. Teachers often take harsh measures to discipline students. But this is not correct. We have to train them in handling difficult situations without losing their cool,'' said Mahinder Nagpal, chairman, education committee, MCD.

Under this programme, teachers will also be informed about the legal repercussions of corporal punishment. In Friday's session, close to 400 principals of MCD schools will be educated on this issue. With technical support from NCERT, MCD has roped in NGOs like SARD, Save the Children and Plan India to conduct the training programme.

There have been several cases of corporal punishment reported in MCD schools in the past. In 2009, Shanno, a class II student of the MCDprimary school in Bawana, died after she was allegedly made to stand in the sun. "We don't want a child to suffer. We are also encouraging the trend of conducting parent-teacher meetings so that parents can be informed about their child's progress. Through this, teachers and parents can work together in disciplining the child,'' said Nagpal.

The civic agency plans to conduct similar workshops in all its 12 zones from next month. MCD will also organize special discussion with experts on issues related to child development.

Delhi govt wants to implement RTE provisions till class XII

Delhi govt wants to implement RTE provisions till class XII

New Delhi, Mar 25 (PTI) Emphasising on the need to "move beyond" the existing boundaries of Right to Education Act, Delhi Education Minister Arvinder Singh today said he wants to extend its scope up to class XII.
Answering questions from members in the Assembly, he also said the government plans to appoint over 13,000 new employees, including teachers, in various categories in the Education Department, the mention of which has been made in the 2011-12 Delhi budget by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
"We want to move beyond RTE...we also wish to implement its provisions up to class XII," the minister said. The provisions of RTE are applicable till class VIII at present.
He said more than 6,000 posts of teachers are vacant in Delhi government schools but 3,793 guest teachers are there to plug the gaps. The vacancies will be filled soon, he said.
The minister said Delhi has one of the best student-teacher ratios in the country at 38:1.
The government has spent Rs 52.4 crore in mid-day meal scheme last year till September 31, he said adding, each meal for pre-primary pupils contains 12 gram protein and 450 calories while for upper primary students, this goes up to 20 gram protein and 700 calories.
To another query, he said there is no disparity in lowest age criteria specified for nursery admissions for students from economically weaker section in various schools.
On complaints of some schools built on government land not admitting EWS children, he said three such institutions were identified in 2009-10 but they started complying with the condition after being sent notices.
Singh said the number of students admitted under EWS quota has shown a gradual increase -- from 6,000 in 2007 to 9373 in 2009 and 17,552 last year.

Govt may extend RTE provisions till Class 12

Govt may extend RTE provisions till Class 12
HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 25, 2011

Delhi education minister Arvinder Singh on Monday said the government is planning to extend the scope of Right to Education(RTE) up to Class 12. At present, the provisions of RTE are applicable till Class 8. Singh said this while answering to questions by several members in the Delhi Assembly’s bud
get session regarding implementation of RTE in Delhi schools.

Singh added that the government plans to appoint more than 13,000 teachers in various categories in the Education department.

“We feel the need to move beyond the RTE. We also wish to implement the provisions of RTE up to class 12,” said Singh. Replying to queries raised by members about shortage of teachers in government schools, Singh admitted that there is a shortage of 6,000 permanent teachers, but 3,793 guest teachers are there to fill in the gap.

“We will soon fill up all vacant posts,” he added.

Giving information about the implementation of RTE in Delhi Singh said Delhi has one of the best student-teacher ratios, at 38:1, in the country.

“No other city in the country, including Kerala has that ratio,” he said.

The government has spent Rs52.4 crore in mid-day meal scheme last year till September 31, he said, adding that each meal for pre-primary pupils contains 12 gram of protein and 450 calories, while for upper primary students, this goes up to 20 gram of protein and 700 calories.

A number of members raised queries over the disparity in lowest age criteria specified for nursery admissions for students from economically weaker section (EWS) in various schools.

However, Singh said that no such complaints have been received by the education department. On complaints of some schools built on government land not admitting EWS children, he said three such institutions were identified in 2009-10, but they started complying with the condition after being sent notices.

Singh said the number of students admitted under the EWS quota has shown a gradual increase — from 6,000 in 2007 to 9,373 in 2009 and 17,552 last year.
Free and Fair

Right To Education (RTE) Act was passed by the Central government and came to force from April 1, 2010

State governments were asked to frame their own rules for the Act.

According to the Act, every child in the age group of 6-14 years will be provided eight years of elementary education in an age appropriate classroom in the vicinity of his/her neighbourhood.

Also, no child shall be denied admission for want of documents; no child shall be turned away if the admission cycle in the school is over and no child shall be asked to take an admission test.

In Delhi schools, the RTE provisions are applicable till Class 8 at present.

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Govt does little to target locals, rues poor response

Govt does little to target locals, rues poor response
Publication: Indian Express
Date: Thu, 2011-03-24

Instead of spreading awareness about reserved seats in private schools among the economically weaker sections (EWS) of the population, the UT Education Department has found it convenient to extend the deadline for applications twice.

Lack of information on the scheme, which is an offshoot of the Right To Education (RTE) Act, has led to a very poor response, forcing the Department to wait for applications under this category.

Asked why the deadline for applications has been extended twice, District Education Officer (DEO) Chanchal Singh replied that he had much more important issues to explain instead of the problems faced by applicants in getting forms filled. He objected to the use of the term ‘postponed’ by newspapers.

“I do not understand why the media has used the word ‘postponed. We have ‘extended’ the deadline and not ‘postponed’ it. They should have consulted the dictionary before using the word ‘postponed’,” argued Singh.

Then asked to specify the reasons for ‘extending’ the deadline, he had nothing more to say.

Initially, the deadline for applying under the EWS category was March 14. All private schools were directed to submit the details of applications received under the EWS category seats filled as well as vacant by this date. This date was then extended to March 23. Recently, it was again extended to March 26.

It was revealed that due to lack of awareness among many applicants, their applications were declined in the absence of valid income certificates.

“First, we did not know about such a scheme for us. Later, when we were informed by the employer where my wife works as a domestic help, we approached the school. For the income proof, they asked me to get it from the concerned SDM. When I approached, I was told that it would take at least 10 days for the income certificate to be issued,” revealed Ram Charan, a resident of Bapu Dham colony.

According to the data submitted to the department, till March 4 as many as 424 seats were lying vacant under the EWS category in around 75 private schools.

Special status nod to important schools

Special status nod to important schools
Publication: Times of India
Date: Wed, 2011-03-23

RANCHI: The state cabinet on Wednesday accorded some schools "special status" to save them from the ambit of Right to Education Act so that talented children are not deprived of quality education in those institutes.

The step was taken by the state cabinet because Right to Education prohibits any type of written test or interview for admission to schools for children in the age group of 5-14 years. The schools, which were awarded special status, include Netarhat Awasiya Vidyalaya, Indira Gandhi Awasiya Vidyalaya and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya.

Cabinet secretary Aditya Swaroop said the decision was expected to ensure admission of talented students to these schools because they will have to face a screening test. "Now, admission to these schools will continue to be taken after competitive examination," said Swaroop.

The cabinet also approved the proposal of grant of funds for construction of 31 Kasturba Gandhi Awasiya Vidyalaya in different districts.

Among the other important decisions taken by the cabinet was minor modification in the executive rule for appointment of secretary in various departments. Till now, the government appointed principal secretary as secretary. "Now, the government will be able to appoint even officers in the rank of additional chief secretary as secretary of any department," said Swaroop.

Kapil Sibal upset over Rajya Sabha skipping key education bill

Kapil Sibal upset over Rajya Sabha skipping key education bill
Published: Friday, Mar 25, 2011, 15:13 IST
Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI
Kapil Sibal

Human resource development (HRD) minister Kapil Sibal was visibly upset today as a key bill seeking to treat children with disabilities as a disadvantaged group under the Right to Education Act could not be taken up in the Rajya Sabha on the last day of the budget session.

As the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill 2010 was listed in the order paper, Sibal came prepared.

However, to his disappointment he came to know minutes before the start of the proceedings that the bill was not going to be taken up.

While the Left party members were on the keen on passage of the bill, the BJP wanted that there should be enough time for the debate on the important measure. The BJP wanted at least four-hour discussion on the bill.

Later alking to reporters, Karat blamed both Congress and the BJP saying the bill was "sacrificed because of the government managers and obduracy of BJP."

She said that parliamentary affairs minister PK Bansal did not make effort for the passage of the bill.

Karat said that BJP cooperated with the government on the introduction of the Pension Bill but they would not cooperate in the passage of this education bill.

The proposed measures was aimed to include children with disabilities in the definition of 'child belonging to disadvantaged group' in RTE Act.

With attendance on the treasury benches thin in the Lok Sabha during introduction of a bill to regulate pension funds, over 30 members from the BJP had yesterday voted in favour of the bill's introduction.

Sibal upset over RS skipping key education bill

Sibal upset over RS skipping key education bill

New Delhi, March 25, 2011

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal was visibly upset today as a key bill seeking to treat children with disabilities as a disadvantaged group under the Right to Education Act could not be taken up in the Rajya Sabha on the last day of the budget session. As the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Educat
ion (Amendment) Bill 2010 was listed in the order paper, Sibal came prepared. However, to his disappointment he came to know minutes before the start of the proceedings that the Bill was not going to be taken up.

While the Left party members were on the keen on passage of the bill, the BJP wanted that there should be enough time for the debate on the important measure.

The BJP wanted at least four-hour discussion on the bill. Later talking to reporters, Karat blamed both Congress and the BJP saying the bill was "sacrificed because of the government managers and obduracy of BJP." She said that Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal did not make effort for the passage of the bill.

Karat said that BJP cooperated with the government on the introduction of the Pension Bill but they would not cooperate in the passage of this education bill.

The proposed measures was aimed to include children with disabilities in the definition of 'child belonging to disadvantaged group' in RTE Act. With attendance on the Treasury benches thin in the Lok Sabha during introduction of a bill to regulate pension funds, over 30 members from the BJP had yesterday voted in favour of the bill's introduction.

IGNOU, DEP-SSA prepare teachers for distance education

IGNOU, DEP-SSA prepare teachers for distance education

March 25, 2011 | RSS | Tell a friend | Printable Version
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IGNOU, DEP-SSA prepare teachers for distance education
New Delhi: The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) along with the Distance Education Programme - Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (DEP-SSA) organized a three-day national seminar on 'Teacher education through Open and Distance Learning in the context of Right to Education' at the Convention Centre of the University in the capital from March 22-24, 2011.

The main objectives of the seminar were to develop strategic plan of action for improving quality of education through Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode.

It identified appropriate skills and competencies required for empowering teachers and other SSA functionaries in providing meaningful education to children at the elementary level.

As a part of capacity building activities under SSA, the seminar documented and shared innovative practices in Teacher Education Programmes for in-service teachers.

"Teacher education system is a power plant and if it works efficiently and proactively, the health of the system will be in accordance to what the society demands. The teachers and educators themselves have to ask if he or she is a professional in real sense of the term. Is the education set-up turning out the right professionals into the system? Do the qualifications insisted by the NCTE bring about a change? If yes, then do we have a system to give the entire professionals a chance to enhance their personality?" said Prof. Suman Karandikar, Director, Centre for Educational Studies (CES), Indian Institute of Education (IIE), Pune

She was addressing the challenges of teacher education in the context of the RTE during the seminar.

The seminar included plenary sessions with paper presentations in parallel sessions. Teachers, teacher educators, officials of state SSA units, researchers and academicians attended the seminar which also talked about promoting technology enhanced collaborations for developing social networking among them at national, state, district and block levels for strengthening capacity building activities through ODL mode under SSA and RTE.

Pro-VC Latha Pillai, IGNOU along with Dr. Anita Priyadarshini, Project Director, DEP-SSA were also present among others.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Maharashtra budget: Allocation for school education up marginally

Maharashtra budget: Allocation for school education up marginally
Published: Wednesday, Mar 23, 2011, 23:52 IST
By Yogita Rao | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

The state government on Wednesday allotted Rs1,280 crore for two central government projects related to school-level education — Rs780 crore for the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) clubbed with the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), and Rs500 crore for the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shikshan Abhiyan, which addresses secondary education. According to sources in the state education department, this marks a marginal increase in allocation for the school education sector since last year.

According to an official from the department, the total requirement to carry out projects under the SSA and the RTE is around Rs3,500 crore. Seventy-five per cent of the funding is to be borne by the Centre. This budget outlay, which was proposed to the Centre, included the cost of infrastructure projects, recruitment of teachers, and quality improvement projects.

The official said, “Thirty-three per cent of the funding goes for construction-related work. New training programmes will be designed for teachers. Projects aimed at better sanitation and drinking water facilities have also been taken up.”

While higher education has been completely neglected in the budget, an amount of Rs90 crore has been kept aside for construction works of Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), vocational schools and polytechnic colleges.

A provision of Rs224.97 crore has been proposed for 2011-12 under the golden jubilee pre-matric scholarships for tribal students. This is to prevent students from dropping out and to ensure regular attendance of scheduled tribe (ST) students of Stds I to X.

The state has also made a provision of Rs40 crore for this financial year for pre-matric scholarships for economically weaker meritorious students from minority communities. Thirty per cent of this allocation would be earmarked for girl students.

Usha Rane, director, training, at NGO Pratham said: Usha Rane, Director, training, Pratham:“The state has performed well in terms of providing infrastructure in schools. They have been giving a good sum of money towards the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan scheme. However, there are some important aspects like facilities for teachers and drinking water facilities that need to be looked into.”

She added: “Also, while the state is looking at providing good primary education, it should also focus on secondary schools. If students are promoted to higher classes and there are no schools available in the vicinity, students will have to discontinue education. The ideal allocation towards education should be 6% of the total budget, but at present it works out to be a little less. However, Maharashtra is performing better than other states in terms of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.”

In a first, HRD to launch survey on state of higher education

In a first, HRD to launch survey on state of higher education
Akshaya Mukul, TNN | Mar 24, 2011, 03.36am IST

NEW DELHI: Faced with inadequate information on the subject, the HRD ministry will, for the first time in more than 60 years, launch a massive survey on the state of higher education in the country.

The task has been given to the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) and is likely to be completed in a year's time.

"Higher education in the country is plagued by lack of reliable data. It has hampered policy initiatives that need to be taken. For instance, the data on Gross Enrolment Ratio does not get updated properly taking into account the private sector's increasing intervention in higher education," an official said.

The decision to undertake the mammoth exercise was taken by a task force headed by a senior HRD official. The collection of data is expected to begin shortly and NUEPA would seek the help of educational institutions throughout the country to carry out the survey.

The aim of the survey is to provide adequate and reliable data on higher education. The survey intends to cover all institutions of higher education – both public and private — in the country. These include all universities, including deemed universities, institutions of national importance and other institutions of university level, general and professional/technical including engineering, medical, dental, veterinary, agriculture, computer, management, law, pharmacy, teacher training, etc. Even colleges and institutions that offer post-secondary education like polytechnics will be included in the survey.

"It would give us a real picture of higher education in the country," the official said. This exercise would be loosely based on the model of survey of elementary education that is carried out by NUEPA every year.

"Once we have the basic data, the plan is to update it annually just the way it is done for elementary education," the official said. The survey would collect data on basic profile of institutions like management, affiliation status, courses offered, and income and expenditure of the institutions, besides the data on enrolment and faculty.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Delhi High court orders crackdown on child labour

Delhi High court orders crackdown on child labour
Harish V Nair, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 23, 2011

The familiar sight of children slogging at roadside eateries, vehicle workshops, scrap industries and power looms in Delhi will hopefully be a thing of the past. The Delhi high court has ordered a crackdown against deployment of child labourers in the capital and directed the Centre to coordinate wi
th all authorities in this regard.

The court wanted strict implementation of its July 2009 order, under which anybody could be fined R20,000 on the spot on a simple complaint and get three years' in jail if found guilty of engaging child labour.

Till then, the labour department had to wait for a conviction to recover the fine.

"Put an end to child labour in factories, small-scale industries, local units and establishments. Young children can never be exploited for such purpose. Action shall be taken as per the scheme which is accordance with the law laid down", ruled chief justice Dipak Misra and justice Sanjiv Khanna.

The court, for the first time, affixed accountability in the matter on one of central government's top law officers, additional solicitor general AS Chandhiok, who has been asked to coordinate with all agencies concerned.

NHRC seeks answers for missing children

New Delhi
NHRC seeks answers for missing children
Satya Prakash, Hindustan Times

As thousands of children go missing from the national capital, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Tuesday asked the Centre and the Delhi government to file separate reports on the issue. Taking cognisance of media reports that 17,305 children allegedly went missing in Delhi between
2008 and 2010 and 2,366 of them were yet to be traced, the NHRC said: "the contents of media reports, if true, raise serious issue of violation of human rights of children and negligence on the part of the State to provide protection to them."

The media reports were based on information given by the minister of state for home affairs Guru Das Kamath in reply to a question in the Lok Sabha and also talked of involvement of organised gangs of criminals in the matter.

The commission issued notices to ministry of home affairs secretary GK Pillai and Delhi chief secretary Rakesh Mehta asking them to file "detailed reports" in the matter within four weeks.

"According to reports, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had unearthed a nexus of organised crime with identification of over 800 gangs engaged in child trafficking," the NHRC said.

Concerned over the rising number of cases of children going missing in the Capital, Delhi high court has already asked the Delhi Police commissioner to constitute a task force to probe whether a gang is involved in trafficking children.

Taking cognisance of media reports on Delhi's missing children, a bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra had on March 16 asked school authorities not to strike off names of missing students without approval of the Department of Education.

Deputy commissioners of police of the areas concerned will have to personally oversee investigation if a child aged between 3 and 8 is reported missing since the last six months and trafficking was suspected, the High Court had said, adding, "If a missing child is not rescued or found for a period of six months, the case should be handed over to the anti-kidnapping cell for effective investigation."

The CBI had in 2006 told the Delhi high court that there were 815 gangs comprising 4,289 members involved in the kidnapping of children for prostitution, begging and ransom in India.

Over 60,000 children were reported missing in India in 2009, the NHRC noted.

Mullah in Debate of Tradition vs. Modern Schooling

Mullah in Debate of Tradition vs. Modern Schooling
Daniel Etter for The New York Times

Mullah Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi at his residence in Akkalkuwa, India. "If we stay fixated on the old things, how can we move forward?” he has said.
By JIM YARDLEY
Published: March 20, 2011

AKKALKUWA, India — On opposite sides of a dusty road, thousands of Muslim students in this remote farming town are preparing for very different futures. On one side, inside a traditional Islamic seminary, teenage boys in skullcaps are studying ancient texts to become imams. On the other, students are hunched before computers in college classrooms, learning to become doctors, pharmacists and engineers.

Mullah Vastanvi has built a network of religious schools, like the one in Akkalkuwa, above.

The distance between them is about 50 feet, but it could be five centuries. In the middle is a bearded Muslim cleric, Mullah Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi, who has spent the past decade bridging the divide between traditional and modern education for Muslims. From his main campuses here in Akkalkuwa, he has built a network of religious schools, hospitals and colleges with more than 150,000 students across the country, and earned a reputation among India’s Muslim clerics as a reformer.

His success here led to his selection in January as vice chancellor, or rector, of India’s most prestigious and influential Islamic seminary, Darul Uloom, in the city of Deoband. Darul Uloom is known for its Orthodox rebukes of modernity, and the mullah is now in a struggle for its control.

Ordinarily, an internal dispute among Muslim clerics over an Islamic school, or madrasa, would attract limited attention in India. But Mullah Vastanvi has stirred a debate among Indian Muslims about the need for reform in Islamic society while tapping into the frustrations of those eager for religious leaders more attuned to the modern world.

“People are tired of the old ways,” said Shahid Siddiqui, editor of Nai Duniya, an Urdu-language Muslim newspaper. “People want development. People want growth. We need people like Vastanvi who can be a symbol of the fight to bring Muslims into the modern world.”

Founded in 1866, Darul Uloom has trained thousands of imams who, in turn, have founded madrasas throughout South Asia and Africa as part of the Deobandi Islamic Movement. Deobandis advocate a conservative form of Islam, and some Deobandi mosques in Pakistan and Afghanistan became radicalized in recent decades.

Many members of the Taliban call themselves Deobandis, even though the Indian leaders of Darul Uloom have strongly condemned them, rejected extremism and organized meetings of Islamic teachers to denounce terrorism. During India’s independence movement, Deobandis supported Gandhi and later rejected joining a partitioned Pakistan.

Today, Darul Uloom is better known in India for issuing so many provocative fatwas, or religious opinions, that it is often derided in the Indian news media as a “fatwa factory.” These opinions, often ignored by mainstream Indian Muslims, have included edicts against women wearing blue jeans; against women and men working together in offices; and against the practice of collecting interest on bank deposits.

Mullah Vastanvi had already proposed reviewing the fatwas when he became embroiled in controversy. In an interview in the Urdu press, later repeated in the English-language media, he was quoted as saying that Indian Muslims needed to focus on economic progress and move beyond the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat in which Hindus rampaged through Muslim areas, leaving about 1,000 people dead.

In media accounts, he was also quoted as condoning Gujarat’s chief minister, Narendra Modi, who has long been accused of abetting the violence against Muslims. But the mullah said that his comments were misrepresented and that he had never given a “clean chit” to Mr. Modi.

“My statement was presented in a distorted manner,” Mullah Vastanvi said. “I do not say forget the past. I told the journalist that to my mind, today Muslims should move forward in education and business. If we stay fixated on the old things, how can we move forward?”

A media firestorm erupted, as rivals attacked Mullah Vastanvi in the Urdu press in what his allies regarded as a smear campaign. The mullah responded by offering his resignation but then received an unexpected outpouring of support: several media commentators argued in his favor and blamed the conflict on an internal struggle between his supporters and the powerful Madani family, which has long dominated Darul Uloom.

In late February, the school’s governing council appointed a committee to investigate the controversy and placed daily operations under a temporary rector until a final decision is made.

Meanwhile, many young Muslim clerics, including some from Darul Uloom, have since rallied behind Mullah Vastanvi as a symbol of reform.

“Most of the students are very happy with the appointment,” said Mohammad Asif, 22, a student at Darul Uloom. “Some powerful people did not like the progressive ideas of Mullah Vastanvi. They felt threatened by his taking over.

“He talks of good education, modern education. He is doing good things for the Muslim community.”

India has at least 161 million Muslims, the third largest number of any country, but Muslims remain a largely marginalized minority in a Hindu-majority nation, disadvantaged economically and educationally.

Education is regarded as a critical issue, though often ignored by many clerics. Darul Uloom offers courses in English and computers but the rest of the curriculum is drawn from the ancient Islamic texts. Only a small percentage of Muslim students attend madrasas in India, yet scholars say these theological schools exert broad influence on Muslim society.

Yoginder Sikand, a scholar who has written extensively about Indian madrasas, said Darul Uloom trained students in an ancient worldview, using centuries-old commentaries to teach the Koran or other texts, rather than more contemporary analyses that try to apply Islam to modern concerns. “The syllabus is not reflective of contemporary demands,” he said. “It doesn’t equip students with the knowledge of the contemporary world.”
The New York Times

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Times Topic: Islam

Mullah Vastanvi is hardly a wild-eyed liberal. He was born in Gujarat, trained in a Deobandi madrasa and arrived in Akkalkuwa three decades ago, where he established a one-room religious school with six students using the same syllabus as Deoband. But as his school grew, populated by children from poor families, the mullah said he realized that students also needed a way to earn a living. He began including training for imams in tailoring and other skills.

But his biggest step came when he started a parallel system for so-called modern education, soliciting contributions from Muslim business leaders to build vocational institutes and, later, certified colleges of medicine, engineering and pharmacy. Many Muslim families struggle to afford mainstream Indian universities, which often demand large advance payments and tuition; in Akkalkuwa, advance payments are not required.

“If you want to move ahead in the world, you have to go where the world is moving,” Mullah Vastanvi said. “And education is critical for that.”

To some secular Muslims, the attention on madrasas is misplaced. Abusaleh Shariff, an economist and co-author of a major 2006 government report on Muslims in India, said resources, attention and energy should be focused on government schools where a majority of Muslim students attend class with Hindus and others.

“We don’t want ghettoism in education,” he argued. “We want secular education.”

But at Akkalkuwa, Mullah Vastanvi seems to be trying to find a balance between Islam and modern schooling.

“Vastanvi tells us this is the era of globalization and competition,” said Mohammad Farooque, a mechanical engineering student. “When you are here, he says try to do your best. Then you will progress.”

English, regional languages battle it out in Goa

English, regional languages battle it out in Goa
2011-03-23 19:20:00

Panaji, March 23 (IANS) The battle between English and regional languages as the medium of instruction in Goa is heating up.

After thousands of supporters of the English language as the medium of instruction for school students marked their turf Monday, a new front Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM) has vowed to back regional languages Konkani and Marathi.

The BBSM, which comprises freedom fighters, a former chief minister and a section of the clergy, has now threatened a statewide agitation against making English as the medium of instruction.

'We want the education minister to resign for being part of a meeting which demanded that English should be made the medium of instruction,' former chief minister Shashikala Kakodkar said.

Underlining the importance of the mother tongue, Kakodkar said a massive statewide agitation would be organised by the BBSM to 'end attempts made by vested interests towards cultural annihilation of Goa and de-linking Goa from the national mainstream'.

On Monday, thousands of people, mostly parents of school-going children and nearly all of the state's Catholic legislators, converged in the capital, demanding state grants to primary schools offering English as medium of instruction.

The rally organised by the Forum for Rights of Children's Education (FORCE), comes against the backdrop of the central Right to Education (RTE) Act, which envisions the child's mother tongue -- in Goa's case Konkani -- as the medium of instruction. The act is scheduled to be ratified in the state legislative assembly soon.

The meeting also demanded that the state government should de-link grants from medium of instruction clause and that grants should also be given to schools offering English as a medium of instruction, not just Konkani or Marathi.

The 'taleem' debate

The 'taleem' debate
Nikhila Henry, TNN | Mar 23, 2011, 12.14am IST

HYDERABAD: The girl child drop out rate in the Old City is a stubborn statistic, fixed at a disheartening 60 to 70 per cent for the last many years. But over the last five years, the dropouts are gradually heading towards another educational institution — the madrassas— which are reporting higher enrolment of girls which is more or less directly proportional to number of girl students dropping out of regular schools.

Until 10 years ago, thousands of boys attended these traditional schools imparting a religious education. Now, it is the Muslim girls who are opting for them in large numbers with as many as 64 madrassas dedicated to girl students coming into existence in the Old City. An estimated 15,000 girls are studying in the centres.

Those closely observing the trend say many students who drop out of schools because they have to travel too far enrol in madrassas. However, educationists feel that the increase in demand for these institutions of traditional learning is a paradox of sorts. They say that the majority of these madrassas cater to girls because most boys are now being sent to private English medium schools. "Parents feel that they should educate the boys in English medium schools.

The girls are usually sent to government schools or madrassas. When the female child drops out of a regular government school, the next best option is the madrassa which also offers regular schooling," said Ayesha Fathima, a social scientist and professor, Maulana Azad National Urdu University. She said that madrassas should not be the only option left for bright girl children.

However, there are concerns about the future of these girls studying at the madrassas. Mohammed Moin, a social activist who works with slum dwellers in the old city maintains that regular schooling with English medium instruction is probably the only way to uplift the poorer sections of the community. "The girls who opt for madrassa education may be opting for higher education. While this could be considered a success story, it should be understood that their opportunities are still limited when compared to Muslim boys," said Moin.

Thus the debate on the value and the fate of those studying at the madrassas continues in academic circles. Girl students, however, are hopeful. Khadeeja Mumtaz, for instance, a class III student from the Hasan Nagar madrassa said that she had dropped out of a government girls' school located in Bandlaguda region two years ago. After her current enrollment at a madrassa, she now aspires to become a doctor.

Similarly, another student, Ayesha Sultana who is to appear for SSC-2011 set to begin on March 24, has already decided she wants to opt for the MPC (maths, physics and chemistry) stream for her intermediate studies.

Meanwhile, government officials like to believe it is their 'modern curriculum' initiative that has turned madrassas into these sought-after institutions. In 2010, 56,000 girl children were covered by the Rajiv Vidya Mission (SSA) madrassa initiative, a number expected to go up by another 9,000 in this coming academic year. Officials say a total of 1,109 madrassas have adopted the state school board curriculum so far and about 70 per cent of them are those catering to girl children. The officials expect that another 200 madrassas may opt for "modernisation" in the coming academic year.

For now, the figures give some hope of literacy to a section of Hyderabad where girls were dropping out from Class IV. Around 70 per cent of the girls who take up school education in these madrassas appear for SSC examination and of the portion that get through them, 50 per cent opt for higher education.

But what makes for an interesting change in policy for them is that these madrassas have adopted the part time regular state schooling offered by the Rajiv Vidya Mission (SSA). "With many students who have got madrassa education going for higher studies we feel that the trend is definitely helping those from the economically backward sections of the community," said V Madhusudan, state coordinator, SSA.

Taking education to the next level of human reformation

2011-03-23 15:10:00

"Educational refugees" is a term, which aptly describes scores of Ladakhi students pursuing higher education, far away from home in places and cities unfamiliar to them.

They have no choice as there are no worthwhile educational institutions in Ladakh after students complete their matriculation.

The concept of leaving home itself has many exciting possibilities of learning, of coping with different cultures and situations, of stepping out of the world. Yet it does not quite work like that.

I have spent several years of my student life in Jammu. I did experience a sense of independence, but the craving for the love and care at home never really left me.

What made it even more painful was the fact that students from other regions in the country were able to go home more frequently or their parents or guardians could come often to meet them.

For me, it was different. I could go home just once a year and this was true for most of my fellow Ladakhis. While my non-Ladakhi friends could just take a train or a bus and some lived close enough to go over even during a weekend, for us we had to either book a flight or wait for the road to open via Manali or Srinagar.

In the long winter months, the roads remain closed. For most Ladakhi students or their families, taking a flight was not an option. It was simply unaffordable.

At a recent seminar, I heard the words of a prominent leader of Tibet "The purpose of education is to make you a better human being and to help us to make a good living ". Reflecting on this, I realized that the schools in Ladakh especially the government schools only focus on the latter aspect.

The words of a Ladakhi social worker, concerned about the more expansive, qualitative aspect of educational system of Ladakh, still ring in my ears.

"Firstly, do you think what you are learning is really relevant to you, to the environment, to society? Does it teach you to live and contribute to all this in a better way? We need a different education system that is relevant to our values, culture, environment, livelihood."

If the pursuit of education makes you unhappy, if you are unable to get the direction for your life, unable to give back to society what you are capable of, then is such an education worthwhile? I do not think so.

What is lacking is the feeling of one's own worth . How does it matter if a person takes to the medical profession or to gardening? As long as he or she is happy, using their potential and contributing to society, it should not be an issue.

Our educational system needs to cater to this kind of thinking. Only then it will advance in a way that will make it relevant to peoples' lives. The previous generation clearly saw education as a source of earning money, of having a secure life.

In Ladakh, this means getting a government job, thus reducing the wider purpose of education to the narrow purpose of a government job! They simply cannot conceive of other aspects of education, nurturing the talent of a child, providing channels for his or her growth in what he or she is interested in. Instead, the emphasis is on marks and certificates, of learning mechanically, sans the joy of learning.

Each generation brings with it a freshness of ideas, a questioning of the old mores. This generation has dreams and their own interests. But the channels open for this exploration still remain limited, constrained and this is what needs to change fundamentally.

Tsewang Norboo, a qualified engineer from a remote village called Wakha is one of the few people, who can be part of this change. Despite his qualifications, he did not try for the 'coveted' government job instead opted for teaching at a public school in his village.

It was his passion and he had the courage to stand up to his family and to societal norms, which lay out a different life-path for the young. His advice is to stick to your dreams and do what you believe in, what makes you happy. " Today my friends are stuck in jobs which they are doing merely for the sake of doing a job. I feel I have progressed beyond that and find joy in my work?

There is much to be done to correct the educational system in Ladakh and open out this wider perspective. The Students Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL), an organisation that came up in the late 80's sought to do this in collaboration with the Ladakh Hill Council.

Sadly, this did not sustain due to several conflicting interests within the society and polity of the region. The impetus for such a change however still remains. Primary Education is the core area since it broadbases education and forms the basis for continuing education.

It is vital that government schools improve their infrastructure, resources and teaching methodology to bring creativity and innovation. In fact there is much to be learnt from the private schools, a view that Konchok Paldan a Ladakhi scholar at JNU Delhi upholds.

Such a revamping of the education system will hold the Ladakhi economy also in good stead in the long run. The present system, which according to Norboo "creates merely machines", leads to a mind-set of 'job seekers', who cannot conceive of anything beyond a government job. Instead, we need young people, who can blaze new trails in new endeavors by honing their capacities and talents. We need people who can be 'job creators'.

The entrenched mind-set, which does not permit one to take this leap of faith, is in dire need of change. Youngsters need to be taught to dream big and follow that dream, to explore and not fear life. With myriad avenues opening up, perhaps one day, we would be able to see a Ladakhi taking part in talent-based reality shows on TV and inspire others to do the same .

Charkha Development Communication network feels that each generation brings with it a freshness of ideas, a questioning of the old mores, but the channels open for exploration still remain limited, constrained and this is what needs to change fundamentally. y Stanzin Angmo (ANI)

‘Dropouts need re-integration’

‘Dropouts need re-integration’

Monitoring of methods for right implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act need to be strengthened from the grassroots levels, said Shanta Sinha, chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

Speaking at a workshop on the RTE Act in the city today, she said there was no clarity on whom to approach for grievances and issues related to the Act. She added this responsibility should not be left to teachers alone.

“Teachers or those in the education department are mostly involved in their duties. The responsibility in such case should be pinned on some functionary or a department that can help implement the Act smoothly,” she said.

Speaking on the issue of out-of-school children, she said, “All levels at every department should work towards bringing out-of-school children back. There are more than 1 lakh such children in the state. We should try to stop school dropouts completely.” She informed the NCPCR had identified two representatives for every state who will be the link between civil societies and the government. Highlighting the apathy towards a large number of child workers in the country, she appealed to people to actively take part in implementation of the Act.

Calling the RTE Act as the most important social legislation after Independence, Amitabha Bhattacharya, advisor, Panning Commission elaborated on the Centre’s role. “The Sarva Siksha Abhyan project is jointly funded by state and central governments. For 2011 and 2012, the central government will fund almost 65 percent while the state government will fund the remaining 35 percent. Starting from 2011, `2,700 crore is allotted for implementation of the Act in the next five years.”

Eminent educationist and MLC Chukka Ramaiah expressed concern over implementation of the Act as he said though huge money was being spent there were not much results to talk about. D Sambasiva Rao, principal secretary, School Education department informed admission tests have been banned in residential schools and replaced with a transparent open lottery system. He also said efforts were on to fill up teachers’ posts according to vacancies.

Chandana Khan, principal secretary, School Education, V Nageswara Rao, additional state project director, SSA and MLC K Nageshwar attended the workshop.

m expresshyd@expressbuzz.com

No proposal to set up madrassa board: Kapil Sibal

No proposal to set up madrassa board: Kapil Sibal
Published: Wednesday, Mar 2, 2011, 17:33 IST
Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI

Denying reports that the government proposed to set up a madrassa board, HRD minister Kapil Sibal on Wednesday said there was little support to the formation of such a regulatory board from the Muslim community.

"There is no proposal, because unless the community wants it, why should we intervene... unless the community comes forward we will not discuss it," he said at a function in New Delhi.

The minister, however, said he had discussed the issue with MPs after a proposal was made in this direction by the National Commission for Minority Education, "but the MPs opposed it".

Making it clear that the government has never proposed to set up such a board, Sibal said the board is a suggestion of the Sachar Committee that felt that the functioning and modernisation of the madrassas should be supervised by a body which has more academics than theologians.

He added that there are special programmes for the minority community in the country.

"Wherever there is a concentration of the minority, we have programmes for setting up institutions of higher education. We are moving forward in that direction," he said.

A delegation of Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind had recently met the minister seeking the setting up of a board for madrassas modelled on the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination.

Talking about emerging trends in higher education, Sibal said the broader objective of the government is to move towards a system where there is an element of regulation and little role of "inspection raj".

He said legislations like the Malpractice Bill and National Accreditation Regulatory Authority Bill would improve quality in higher education and stop institutes from "duping" students and parents.

Sibal also dismissed apprehensions that the influx of foreign universities into the country following the passage of the Foreign Universities Bill will lead to "cultural invasion".

The bill has enough provisions to keep away non-serious players and fly-by-night operators from the country, he said.

The HRD minister released two books on the occasion --'Emerging trends in Higher Education in India: Concepts and Practices' edited by KN Panikkar and M Bhaskaran Nair and 'Quality Access and Social Justice in Higher Education' edited by KN Panikkar, Thomas Joseph, Geetha G and MA Lal.

Confining childhood in India

Confining childhood in India
Havovi Wadia

Do child rights activists need to step out of the boxes of ‘development’, ‘survival’, ‘protection’ and ‘participation’ into which they have confined India’s children? Do we need to interrogate child rights programming and the somewhat limiting notions of childhood around which it is built?
By many accounts, childhood in India consists of various conglomerate experiences that get clothed in ‘universal’ beliefs about the nature of children and the ‘essence’ of childhood. Many of these ‘universals’ are echoes of the colonial past of this country, and emerge from the fact that the middle class is routinely brought up on Rousseau-esque notions of the innocence of childhood through our education system. Some of these notions have been reinforced in the last few years with the urban upper-crust moving towards an increasingly ‘globalised’ lifestyle.
Structures and agencies that engage extensively with children also demonstrate a more or less unitary approach to children and childhood. NGO interventions, for instance, approach children and their worlds largely through the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), a document that was ratified in 1992 and which reinforced the duties of the state towards the children citizens who inhabit it. The document, while internationally lauded, is often critiqued for generating a standard of childhood that has come to be seen as the norm and on which all interventions are modelled (1).
The education system plays a crucial role in institutionalisation approaches to childhood. A cursory look at textbooks reveals that they too are by and large written for the normative child -- male, upper-caste, middle class, urban. In many, there continues to be a gender bias with most stories/narratives/pictures excluding girls or reinforcing stereotypes about girlhood. Not only this, tribal children, children from dalit families, children from rural India might find it difficult to identify with the children in these books because they are inevitably modelled on a dominant image of childhood.
In cinema, children continue to be cute voices of conscience, with very few roles written for children as persons rather than instruments in the unification of the male and female heroes. Coverage in newspapers invariably focuses on stories of children being violated in some way -- children dying of malnourishment, children run over by vehicles, children neglected by parents, children committing suicide. Of late, with the focus on the Right to Education Act, 2010, it often seems as though childhood and the rights of children all centre on and are determined by the schooling system.
So what does childhood in India mean? And how do we understand it?
Perhaps it would be best to start at the beginning and ask, instead, why we are asking these questions.
Over the past two decades, children have made a significant contribution to the consumer market, with specific segments of goods being made available to them. In order to ensure the success of these goods, there has been extensive investment in advertising and here the visibility of children has increased manifold in the last 20 years. They are cast in the role of salesperson (in advertisements, convincing people -- not just other children but adults as well -- to buy particular goods) as well as consumer. Given the monumental takeover of public mindspace by the audiovisual media over the last 20 years, this means that even at the most superficial level, children have a much higher presence in public life than they did in the pre-liberalisation years.
Aside from their presence in advertising there is also an increasing visibility of children in television serials, reality shows, cinema, game shows, etc. This has been a particular kind of visibility, associated with many things that are part of the globalised image of India -- intense competition, high drama, bright lights and costumes and, on several occasions, what many see as an uncomfortable masquerading of children as miniature adults. All this has sparked off debates on how children are growing up too fast, and of how much and what kind of exposure to media is desirable for children, at what ages. This discussion is grounded within the discourse of concern and protection that is frequently in use when matters pertaining to children are brought up.
Simultaneously, and in almost diametric opposition to the lifeworlds of children portrayed in the electronic media, there is increasing light being thrown on the great numbers of children who get insufficient food, medical treatment, shelter, water, access to quality education and so on. Currently, funds are being mobilised both by the government and non-government sector in the name of these children of the country. Most funds are generated based on sectoral interventions -- for food, education, vaccination, play space, etc -- and interventions designed accordingly.
When NGOs write about their work, or go into a field area for an assessment of the situation with regard to children, children’s lives are bracketed into the compartments of ‘development’, ‘survival’, ‘protection’ and ‘participation’. While most people accept that these four categories of child rights often intersect and overlap, few think of childhood outside of these compartments, mostly because the UNCRC remains the framework within which funding strategies are built and proposals structured. In other words, children who are seen as requiring state intervention in their lives (less privileged or marginalised children) get broken down into their ‘needs’, which fit within the UNCRC format, and are then addressed by various policies, programmes and schemes.
Olga Nieuwenhuys very rightly asked in a 2009 editorial in Childhood, “Is there an Indian childhood?” (2). Her argument is that childhood in India continues to be thought about mainly in terms of issues that children face, and problems that they may create. The focus on issues, according to her, casts “Indian children’s lifeworlds in a series of binaries that divide their childhood into what is undesirable and therefore must be addressed and rectified, and what is not and can therefore be ignored” (3). So, for instance, that children go hungry or remain uneducated is something we as a society find ‘undesirable’ and therefore there are engagements in place from government and non-government bodies, as well as individuals, to address these issues or at least address these problems for one/two children. There is also the belief that children should not be alone or in child-headed families -- so interventions ensure that children are ‘sheltered’ by putting them in institutions, in foster care, etc. However, play is an aspect of children’s lives that often gets ignored. One assumption may be that all children find time to play in some manner or the other, so this aspect of a child’s life is rarely seen as a feature of NGO programming (4). Another possibility is that play is not seen as an essential component of the lives of ‘deprived children’, and therefore is an issue that can be ignored (5).
In India, where there continues to be a reluctance to engage with the politics of deprivation, perhaps it can be argued that there is a need to focus on ‘important’ issues and ensure rights to all children. What Nieuwenhuys’ question offers us is an opportunity to reconsider how we engage with this politics of deprivation. It is a chance to see whether we are able, at some point in the process, to put all the sectoral interventions together and to understand if, in their totality, they are able to engage with the nature of, the reasons for, and the existence of deprivations of childhood in the country. What she also compels one to do is think about whether indeed children are at the centre of these interventions, as is regularly claimed, or if children are incidental to the programmes.
Some writers and activists have engaged with concepts of childhood in India -- with issues of inconsistency in the constitutional engagement with children, hidden inequalities that bias policymaking and implementation and a concern over the continued engagement with polarised understandings of childhood.
In 1996, Asha Bajpai (6) listed the various ways in which the Indian Constitution engages with childhood and showed how there are variations in the age of maturity/boundary of childhood depending on the legislation. Interestingly, a male person aged 18 can vote but is not free to marry. He is not considered capable of managing an inheritance at 18 either; the suitable age for that is 21. The age at which a person can begin to earn money legally is 14. The age until which the government takes responsibility for one’s health is 6. The age at which one is held accountable for one’s criminal offences is 18. Enveloping all these legal boundaries at which activities are allowed/disallowed is the UNCRC, the international document that stipulates that all individuals aged 18 and under are to be considered ‘children’. In the context of legislation, therefore, there are several ambiguities regarding the age at which children are considered vulnerable/capable and with reference to what aspect of their lives. A closer interrogation of this might reveal a few biases regarding sexuality, wealth and citizenship which possibly have their basis in colonial and brahmanical notions of identity. The relationship of the state and the child is also ambiguous -- till what stage in life the state is willing to take responsibility for different aspects of a child’s life varies from 6 to 21.
Krishna Kumar is among those who have written about the essentially masculinist bias of the education system in the ways it precludes and excludes girlhood in India. Work done by activists such as Debolina Dutta and Oishik Sircar in West Bengal shows that children of sex workers conceive of themselves in terms that emphasise the dignity of the lives of their mothers -- a very different vision from the perennially exploited colours the NGO world paints them in (7). Authors from Anveshi (a Hyderabad-based NGO) have recently brought out a series of storybooks that engage with everyday issues in the lives of non-mainstream children. Purnima Mankekar (8) analyses the incident of a very young Muslim girl (Ameena) to show how, in public discourse, the identity of childhood seems to subsume all other identities -- in doing so she unveils some of the politics in which children’s identities are deployed as nation-building exercises in the public sphere.
There are a dedicated few in India who are committed to grappling with the paradoxes and nuances of childhood in the country, to develop an understanding that will both allow for and engage with the plurality of experience as well as the many commonalities that cast children as a structural category.
In Europe, almost all scholars agree that there was a surge of interest in the study of childhood following the publication, in 1967, of Philip Aires’ work Centuries of Childhood. He argued that the notion of childhood as a distinct and separate stage from adulthood is a modern one, and that in medieval times children were understood more as little adults rather than separate beings altogether. Aires’ work has been engaged with at multiple levels, with critiques of his assumptions, methodology and framework. But it does seem to be largely accepted that this work initiated an interest in childhood as a concept that had not been seen before in the study of the social sciences. This interest is often called the Social Studies of Childhood.
Discussions about childhood within the Social Studies of Childhood have been centred along the structure/agency axes, with scholars invariably arguing that childhood is a social structure that determines the way power is shared within society. However, within this structure there is engagement by children at the individual and collective level, which is what allows us to engage with childhood in more than simply deterministic terms. So, for instance, two of the most widely published authors in this field write: “Childhood is imaged as a social space that is continuously located within and shaped by the social structure of a given society, but that is also shaped by the actions of successive generations of children who succeed in creating and re-creating diversity within this common socially constructed category.” (James, Allison and Adrian. 2001. p 34)
Leena Alanen sees childhood as a generational structure in which, through a set of processes, some people get characterised as children and others as adults. This then becomes the basis through which one can understand inequalities pertaining to access to resources, children’s subordination and the general underestimation of their contribution to society. Her approach allows us to explore ways in which power gets shared in our society using the yardstick of age.
Alan Prout makes a case in The Future of Childhood (2005) for moving beyond the structure/agency, child/adult, capability/vulnerability arguments on childhood. He argues for making childhood studies truly interdisciplinary by suggesting the use of understandings of juvenility from biology, the possibility of understanding childhood using the framework of the Actor-Network Theory (taken from Deleuze and Guattari) and Complexity Theory, and enabling a questioning of the polarisations that childhood studies often finds itself swinging between.
In her recent editorial in Childhood, ‘Keep Asking, Why childhood? Why children? Why global?’ (9), Olga Nieuwenhuys also makes this last argument. Insisting on keeping the field fresh and critical she exhorts researchers to continue to ask the fundamental questions regarding childhood and to keep questioning whether indeed “children are interesting otherwise than as carriers of traits that turn them into the target of global childhood governance…” (p 295)
With that last statement we come back to the question that was posed by the same author a year ago -- Is there an Indian childhood? To this we must add our own questions -- Is childhood to be studied, understood, and engaged with only insofar as it impacts the future of the nation? Is there an intrinsic instrumentality in our engagement with childhood that comes from our belief that children inevitably become adults and that is when their participation in the socio-political fabric of society becomes real? Is there a need for practitioners in the field of child rights and child welfare to engage with issues pertaining to the dominant understanding of childhood, and does that need interrogation? How does legislation shape childhood in the country and how has legislation and its implementation in India impacted our understandings of equity and justice as they pertain to childhood?
Child rights programming is inevitably driven by a certain understanding of who children are, what they need, and how these needs should be addressed. Only rarely are organisations in touch with the fact that in designing a certain kind of programme they are also endorsing a certain kind of idea of childhood. For example, while many who work with children under the age of 12 focus on the need for safe spaces/shelters, schools, anganwadis and healthcare services, people who work with adolescents are seen to focus more on ‘life skills’, ‘vocational training’, ‘anger management’, participatory citizenship and other such issues. Few focus on the need for health and education rights for adolescents. Simplifying somewhat, there is an endorsement in this manner of at least two assumptions regarding a phase of life that loosely gets called ‘childhood’:
• Children below the age of 12 need protection; children above the age of 12 need disciplining and guidance.
• Children below the age of 12 need health and education; children above the age of 12 need to be trained to become ‘good citizens’ by ensuring a set of behaviours and skills which will make them amenable to civilised society.
It is possible that these are not the beliefs of those who run programmes or work with children in some way. It is also true that both kinds of work are necessary with both age-groups. What one is trying to illustrate here is that an objective look at the manner in which child rights programming happens reveals that there are patterns to the work that reinforce somewhat limiting notions of childhood, and that these need interrogating.
Legislation in India also seems to perpetuate this dichotomous understanding of childhood. Children below the age of 14 are to be protected from child labour and must be in school. These issues are addressed both by the Right to Education Act, 2010 and the Child Labour (Prevention and Regulation) Act, 1986. However, neither of these Acts addresses the rights of children between the ages of 15 and 18. Children in this age-bracket are therefore not protected by these legislations and can indeed be legitimately deprived of their rights to education and against employment.
Until we begin to think about and engage with some of the issues listed above, programmes and legislation that are ostensibly for all children may continue to address only those who fit within the dominant understanding of childhood. It is only when a problematisation of this conception of childhood happens that one can begin to engage with real children in real spaces, rather than with a generalised notion of what children ought to be.

(Havovi Wadia is a development professional with experience in the field of child rights and human rights. She is currently a PhD student at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences)
Endnotes

Cabinet nod for bill on free education

Cabinet nod for bill on free education
Mar 23, 2011, 07.06am IST

JAIPUR: The state cabinet on Tuesday gave its approval to the draft Rajasthan Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2011 Bill. It also approved the notification regarding Engery Conservation Building Code (ECBC) which would be applicable to big commercial buildings whose connected load is more than 100 kw. Compliance with these directives would help in 30-40% energy conservation.

The cabinet meeting was held in the morning before the assembly session. The Rajasthan Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2011 will be enacted for the implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 of the Government of India. Under these rules, provisions have been made to open a primary school within one kilometre walking distance and upper primary school within two kilometres walking distance. To open schools in hilly regions, desert and remote areas, provisions have been made regarding minimum population and number of students.

It has also been made that all the non-government schools whether they are government-aided or unaided will give admission to a minimum of 25% students belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged group and no fee would be charged from students belonging to these sections.

The state government would also constitute a State Advisory Council for protecting child rights. The council would be chaired by the education minister. In the meeting, approval was given to the State Litigation Policy. This policy would streamline the state litigation and ensure efficient and effective execution of the litigation and quality improvement. It would also help in minimizing the burden of unnecessary litigation.