Sunday, March 31, 2013

Central Advisory Board for Education to meet on April 2

Central Advisory Board for Education to meet on April 2

Review of RTE implementation, ICT in higher education, proposed Education Commission on agenda
The Central Advisory Board for Education (CABE) will hold its 61st meeting under the chairmanship of Union HRD Minister MM Pallam Raju on April 2, 2013 in New Delhi.  According to an HRD ministry statement, the issues to be discussed in the meeting include review of Right to Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, National Higher Qualification Framework and use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in higher education. The CABE is the highest advisory body to advise the Central and State Governments in the field of education.

CABE is looking to evolve a National Higher Education Qualification Framework (NHEQF) on priority. The NHEQF essentially seek to provide a standardised framework in terms of minimum entry qualification, programme durations, teaching learning processes and learning outcome aimed at national, and ultimately the universal, acceptability, recognition and equivalence of not only the degrees but also the qualifications.

It said that the NHEQF shall be an structured instrument for the development, classification and recognition of knowledge, skills, competencies and learning outcome associated with a qualification. Consequently, it will indicate the comparability of different qualifications and path of progression from one level to another and also from one institution to another.

In terms of ICT in education. the advisory board is looking to increase internet connectivity in education, provide low cost computing and content generation though schemes like the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT). This scheme,  has been envisaged as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme to leverage the potential of ICT, in teaching and learning process for the benefit of all the learners in Higher Education Institutions in any time any where mode.

CABE will also discuss the formation of an autonomous 'National Textbook Council' to monitor textbooks. This council would represent civil society and academia. It would provide ordinary citizens a forum to register complaints regarding textbooks to be followed up by an investigation by the Council. The RTE Act implementation would also be reviewed, in terms of the implementation, status of untrained teachers and curriculum renewal in states.

The government has decided to set up an Education Commission to make recommendations for improvements at all levels of education. The new Education Commission will be tasked with providing the framework of a national policy that would address the needs and challenges of the present education system.

The other issues in the agenda include discussing best practices adopted by states in mid-day meal scheme and best practices in implementation of school sanitation and hygiene education, apart from elimination of gender and social gaps in school enrolment.

Excluding unaided minority schools from RTE quota unfair, says forum

Excluding unaided minority schools from RTE quota unfair, says forum

Puja Pednekar, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, March 25, 2013
First Published: 03:23 IST(25/3/2013) | Last Updated: 03:25 IST(25/3/2013)
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Angry that unaided minority schools have been exempt from the Right to Education (RTE) Act, the Forum for Fairness in Education (FFIE) plans to file a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay high court. FFIE is challenging a notification exempting schools from reserving seats for children from economically weak families.

The latest RTE notification, uploaded on a government website on March 20, said unaided minority schools will not have to set aside 25% of their seats for children from economically weaker and disadvantaged groups. FFIE, an NGO working against corruption in education, said the notification is against the spirit of the RTE Act. The Forum alleged that if the notification is enforced, the burden for implementing RTE will fall only on a few schools, as over 80% of schools in Mumbai fall under the minority unaided category. 
“With just a handful of seats available to them, very few poor students will be able to secure admission in good quality schools,” said Jayant Jain, president, FFIE.
The Forum also said unaided minority schools, many of which claimed minority status to escape obligations under the RTE Act, are flouting all norms of being a minority institution.
“A minority institution is supposed to have 50% students belonging to that minority community, but in most such schools there are hardly 5 to 10% minority students. If they do not mind admitting students from non-minority groups, why are they opposing students from weaker sections?” he asked.
Jain said the notification is contrary to the state’s interpretation of the amendment to the Act. Earlier, the former project director of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan interpreted the amendment to mean that only vedic pathshaalas, madrassas and other schools offering theological education would be exempt from RTE. Now, the interpretation is that schools that do not receive aid from the government and are run by a minority group will be exempt from the Act.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bangalore schools may get choice: RTE or derecognition

Bangalore schools may get choice: RTE or derecognition

, Posted on Jul 04, 2012 at 11:13am IST
Bangalore: In what may be considered as the first statement alluding to the possible action the state government may take on private schools, which are threatening closure protesting the Right to Education (RTE) Act, Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education G Kumar Naik on Tuesday hinted that the recognition of these schools “will be in peril”.
Answering questions from the media on RTE at a press conference to announce the Shaalegagi Naavu Neevu programme, Naik said, “All schools have to comply to the RTE Act. Even the judiciary is monitoring the progress of its implementation. If schools resort to protest methods, their recognition will be in peril.” He was referring to the decision taken by the Karnataka (Recognised) Unaided Schools Managements’ Association (KUSMA) to shut schools from July 16-22 to protest the implementation of the RTE.
Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri said, “The Act has been cleared by Parliament, and it is our duty to ensure education to every child. Schools cannot take the future of children for a ride. Then, the government will definitely take action.” The Minister called upon the agitating schools to come forward to discuss their problems.
Minority Status: Minority status of schools, which is the most contested aspect of the RTE Act, is likely to be cleared in the upcoming Monsoon Session of the State Legislature.
Without revealing what the Education Department has planned on that front, Kageri said, “Our proposal on minority status has moved from the Law and Finance Departments, and it will be placed before the House in the next session. I am hopeful that it will be passed.”
According to highly-placed sources, minority status of a school will be determined based on the composition of students.For instance, a school will be considered “minority” only if more than 50 per cent of the students belong to a minority community.
“If a school is hesitant to admit even 25 per cent because it wants to maintain the minority status, the remaining 75 per cent students should be ideally from a minority community. In the interest of the children’s right to education, we have proposed this move,” a top official told Express.

State can't violate Supreme Court directive on RTE

State can't violate Supreme Court directive on RTE

TNN Jun 28, 2012, 12.51AM IST

HYDERABAD: Protecting private schools from implementing the Right to Education act is a state government order, according to which seats in neighbourhood government and aided schools should be filled before private schools are approached for admission under RTE. The order has been a key reason for private schools to steer clear of earmarking 25 per cent seats under the RTE Act. But Supreme Court advocate Ashok Agarwal, who has been spearheading the RTE implementation, says that the GO is in violation of the Act.
In the city on Wednesday, Ashok Agarwal told TOI that he had been travelling to various districts across Andhra Pradesh to meet lawyers and create awareness about the act so that they can take up cases of violation. "Section 12 of the RTE Act makes it very clear that it is a child's right to get admission in a private school and such a government order (issued by the state government) is in contradiction of this provision. The state while framing the rules cannot violate the act, they don't have power. This amounts to repealing section 12," Agarwal said.

He said another problem in AP is in the rules framed by the government on RTE's implementation. "They have applied reservations in this 25 %. This is reservation within reservation which is not permissible," he said.
Agarwal, who has been actively involved with MV Foundation, has toured districts including Kurnool, Khammam and Nalgonda over the last few days speaking to lawyers. "We are telling our lawyer friends about RTE provisions and asking them to adopt one school and then find out violation of the act. People can go to taluka and even district court... they needn't move the high court. We are getting a good response," he said.

RTE Forum to spread wings in state

RTE Forum to spread wings in state

Vinobha K T, TNN Jul 13, 2012, 04.13AM IST
MANGALORE: RTE Forum, a national-level platform of people's organizations working towards effectively mobilizing the community to ensure the implementation of the Right to Education Act, (RTE) 2009,is planning to expand its activities in the state.
The forum, which is an informal alliance of various organizations like Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL), Child Rights and You (CRY), UNICEF, UNESCO and others, has already begun its work in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

CACL activist Udaya Kumar told TOI that a preliminary meeting to chalk out plans to set up the state branch of the forum will be held in Bangalore on Friday.
"NGOs and all stakeholders will take part in the meet and about 300-400 organizations are expected to join hands for the initiative," he added.
According to educationist Renni D'Souza the forum is a collective national initiative of civil society. "The major role of the forum is to defend its ideological stance on a host of issues related to education. The forum seeks to address issues related RTE implementation at different levels. It works towards demanding the governments upgrade all government schools on par with the standards of Kendriya Vidyalayas. This is the first step towards building a national system which ensures quality education to all children," he said.

RTE complaints go unaddressed


RTE complaints go unaddressed




NEW DELHI: Only 19% of complaints of violations of RTE Act that have come to monitoring body National Commission for Protection of Child Rights in the year 2012-2013 have been closed. Since the first year of RTE (2010-2011) when the commission closed over 57% cases, the percentage of cases it has managed to solve in a year has dipped considerably despite decline in their numbers, data from replies to an RTI query filed by activist Rashmi Gupta has shown.

With states being nowhere near meeting the deadline for implementation of the Act set at March 31, activists are demanding a monitoring body that can take action; not just recommend it.

The percentage of complaints closed has dropped from 57.6% (2010-2011) to 21.54% (2011-2012) and 19.21% (2012-2013). Shantha Sinha, chairman, NCPCR, argues that "is not something to be alarmed about". "There is a procedure for closing," she explains. "We are very careful to not just close without the complainant is fully satisfied." The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights is not faring much better having solved 116 of 557 cases (20.82%) registered with it.

Interestingly, the number of complaints registered with NCPCR has declined drastically in some states over the three years. In Andhra Pradesh, it fell from 780 in 2011-2012 to 39 in the last year; in Maharashtra, the number of cases was 132 in 2011-2012 and 14 last year and the number of cases dropped from 771 (2010-2011) to just two in Rajasthan (2012-2013). The total number of cases NCPCR dealt with last year — 687 —is less than half of what it was the previous year (1,768).

This, however, is not indicative of improved conditions and increased compliance on the part of institutions.

For one, launch of state commissions has eased the strain on the national body. "Several state commissions have been set up in the last year and complaints are going directly to them," Sinha said. But activists argue that the decrease in complaints registered despite greater awareness has more to do with people losing faith in the body's ability to effectively deal with complaints. The number of complaints from Delhi, which has had a state commission, has also fallen from 517 (2011-2012) to 320 (2012-2013).

"We have been demanding from the start that NCPCR be made a statutory committee with the authority to taking direct action," RTE Forum convenor, Ambarish Rai, said. Though Sinha maintains that the recommendations are complied with, Rai argues that until the national and state commissions are allowed to take action, they will remain toothless as monitoring agencies. "If nothing has been done on recommendations, the commissions can take judicial action, taking the party to court," he said, adding, "But there is no evidence of their having lodged any case."

Nagpur state board schools report 98% vacant free seats under RTE quota

Nagpur state board schools report 98% vacant free seats under RTE quota

Last Updated On: 06 Jul 2012
With the closure of admission process for free quota seats under RTE (Right to Education) on July 5, 2012 in Nagpur, about 98% of the seats available in state board schools were left vacant. Sources from education department revealed that the city has about 450 private unaided state board schools (English medium) to which 25% free RTE quota seats were applicable and total intake capacity is 11,000. About 634 applications were received by the schools of which only 272 admissions were made till last date.
The rest of the applications are under consideration due to lack of essential documents to be submitted. The department also declared that the admission process will remain open till all the vacant seats under RTE quota are filled. The earlier deadline of July 5, 2012 was only the first round to get the process started in schools. The CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) and other board schools are yet to submit the final figures for the total admissions to the local education office; however, the sources expect the overall percentage to remain same.
The schools of Nagpur had decided to follow a ‘common plan’ under which the admissions for the free 25% RTE quota seats were reopened.
The city has been repeatedly appraised for being a pioneer in implementing the RTE quota. Despite of having only 2.5% admissions against the free RTE quota seats, Nagpur is still called the leader. This shows how poorly other states have been performing in implementing RTE.
CBSE school principals of the state called a special meeting on July 6, 2012 to discuss the implementation of RTE in detail. Till now no CBSE school has submitted the details of number of applications received and admissions made against the free seats under RTE to the education office.
Also South Point School received the first certificate of recognition (CR) on July 5, 2012 as made compulsory by RTE. Sources from the school revealed that all schools irrespective of their affiliated boards must apply for a CR and get it renewed yearly. As per RTE, schools can lose their recognition and charged a fine of Rs. 1 lakh along with an additional amount of Rs 10,000 daily for not having a CR.
Royal Gondwana and Bhavan's Group of Schools are the only CBSE schools which have applied for CR till now. The last date to apply for CR was June 30, 2012. Now the deadline has been extended to July 31, 2012 and after that strict action will be taken against the defaulters.
Source: Times of India

Centre: Identify EWS, fix income cap before implementing RTE Act

Centre: Identify EWS, fix income cap before implementing RTE Act

  |
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Express news service : Chandigarh, Fri Jul 06 2012, 04:03 hrs

UT administration has failed to make drafts for notification
In response to an RTI query filed by city private schools, the central government has clarified that for the implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, it is mandatory for all UTs including Chandigarh to first identify the disadvantaged group.
The officials have also noted that the UT Administration needs to specify the income levels for defining the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category. The Administration, then needs to get the drafts notified from the central government.
As per the provisions of the RTE Act, it is mandatory for all private unaided schools to reserve 25 per cent seats for students either from EWS or disadvantaged groups at the entry-level classes.
"For the notification, the UT concerned has to send us a proposal fixing income limit for weaker sections and specifying children belonging to disadvantaged groups, after which the Centre will notify the Act for it," reads the reply to the RTI query.
There are 67 private schools in the city which come under the purview of the RTE Act. Of these, only 30 schools have filled all the RTE reserved seats. The Independent Schools' Association (ISA) has long been reiterating the provisions of the Central government pertaining of notification of income levels and identification of disadvantaged groups.
The UT Administration, however, in the last two years since the RTE Act was implemented has failed to draft either of the notifications.

File contempt petition against UT: HC

File contempt petition against UT: HC

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Express news service : Fri Jul 13 2012, 03:28 hrs

Alleging that schools in Chandigarh had failed to comply with the directions of the Supreme Court on the issue of granting admission to students belonging to the economically weaker section (EWS), social activist Hemant Goswami on Thursday demanded strict action to be taken against the erring schools.
During the resumed hearing of a public interest litigation filed by Goswami, the petitioner argued that the Supreme Court directions to reserve 15 per cent admissions in all classes had not been complied with. A division bench suggested that in wake of non compliance, the petitioner could file a contempt of Court petition against the schools and Administration.
Goswami submitted that he would file a contempt petition against the schools on account of non compliance of Court directions.
The petitioner had moved the High Court seeking directions to private schools to fill the vacant seats under the EWS category.
The High Court on a previous date of hearing had made it clear that the Right to Education (RTE) Act would have an overriding effect on all other regulations regarding reservation of seats for the economically weaker section. The High Court had directed the private schools to comply with the RTE Act and the latest Supreme Court judgment on the Act.
Disposing of petitions filed by private schools challenging various schemes of the UT Administration and demanding reimbursements, the High Court had 'left open' the dispute pertaining to concessions awarded to private schools at the time of allotment of land.

Now, no school in Maharashtra can dodge RTE

Now, no school in Maharashtra can dodge RTE

Published: Friday, Jul 13, 2012, 8:15 IST
By Puja Pednekar | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

The state education department has said schools which have received concessions from the government on land, water, tax and others should not be able to escape from implementing the Right to Education Act (RTE).
The department has suggested that such schools cannot call themselves “unaided minorities”, as they have received help from the state government in some form or another. The department is now conducting a survey of city schools to find out the kind of concessions that have been given to such unaided schools.
According to the Supreme Court judgment in April 2012, schools that are unaided minorities will be exempted from the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. But in Mumbai, this clause is creating problems in the implementation of the Act as majority of the schools are claiming to be unaided minorities.
Sanjay Deshmukh, nodal officer for RTE and special project director of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, said most of the schools that are claiming to be unaided have received government help. For instance, several schools, which have received land on a concessional rate, are exempted from paying water tax, and are even provided concessions in electricity bills.
“Why should such schools call themselves as unaided? They might not be receiving salary and non-salary grants from the government, but they could have benefitted from the government help for raising infrastructure. Hence, they should not refuse from admitting 25% poor students under the RTE. Other aspects of the RTE should also be binding on these schools,” he said.
Echoing his views, Jayant Jain, president of the Forum for Fairness in Education (FFE) said that it was a good move to include such schools in the RTE.
“Some schools are even exempted from paying income tax or service tax, although they make profits. Though the schools are claiming to be minority, there are less than 50% minority students on their rolls. It would be a good idea to include such schools, otherwise RTE will be a failure as majority of schools would not fall under it,” said Jain.
The forum is also going to file a Public Interest Litigation in the Bombay high court against such schools.

States must ensure free education to children: Rights body

Governments should provide free and compulsory education to children under the age group of 6 to 14 years, NCPCR member Justice B Subhashan Reddy said.
He was addressing a press conference after conducting a public hearing on the issue of children's right to education here in Andhra Pradesh.
He said the commission members conducted public hearing on 16 cases. Most of the complaints pertained to lack of adequate schools as per the RTE Act, shortage of teachers and lack of basic infrastructure like drinking water and toilets in schools.
"We have issued instructions to authorities concerned to solve these problems by July 31 and send us a report," Justice Reddy said.
The commission, set up in March 2007, heard the complaints from four districts of Srikakulam, Viziangaram, Visakhaptnam and East Godavari.
Another member of the panel, Deepa Dixit, yesterday visited some villages in the tribal-dominated areas of Visakhaptnam district to examine the implementation of the landmark Act.

Only 60% of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan funds used

Only 60% of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan funds used

TNN Jul 12, 2012, 01.56AM IST

AHMEDABAD: The central government allocated Rs 1,360.35 crore for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, but Gujarat has only spent Rs 790 crore. The spending was less than 60 per cent of the allocation.
Manish Doshi, spokesperson of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee said that in the last 10 years, the union government has allotted Rs 1,360.36 crore, out of which the state government has spent just Rs 461.66 crore for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in 26 districts and another Rs 325.55 crore in Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot and Vadodara.

He alleged that the major part of the central funds had been used for civil work, which included repairs of school buildings.
Doshi said that the under-utilization of funds speaks of the education policy of the state government. He said the government is not worried about children from low income groups.
He said that the government, by not utilizing the funds properly, has thus taken away the Right to Education from poor students.
Doshi added that according to the annual report published, the government has allocated only 28 per cent of the funds for Vadodara, 21 per cent for Surat, 35 per cent for Rajkot and only 69 per cent for Ahmedabad city.
"It is crystal clear that this BJP government is not bothered about the future of poor children in cities," alleged the GPCC spokesperson.

Right to Education awareness campaign kicks off today

Right to Education awareness campaign kicks off today

TNN Jul 11, 2012, 12.50AM IST

PANAJI: The central government's Shiksha ka haq abhiyan campaign, to raise awareness at the grassroot-level about the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, will begin on July 11 with Sattari, where village panchayat members and school heads will be trained and prepared to launch the campaign.
"The block-level training to implement the campaign will begin in all blocks of the Goa Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) starting with Sattari on Wednesday and will end at Canacona on July 20. All village education committee and urban education committee chairpersons, who are heads of local panchayats, etc, and heads of local government and government-aided schools will be familiarized at the training programme with the concept of shiksha ka haq abhiyan," Farell Furtado, Goa SSA project director, said.

The programme will also train the village heads and school heads in survey tools to identify the requirements of the neighbourhood schools as per the provisions of the RTE Act.
"The law gives states time till 2013 to ensure that infrastructure in schools meet the requirements of the RTE Act. We are hoping that a sustained campaign at the community-level will ensure that the RTE delivers. With the help of a questionnaire, volunteers trained by us will first check if schools meet the major provisions of the RTE Act. In January 2013, the data gathered will then be compiled to prepare a report for us to analyse the extent of RTE-compliant schools," Furtado said.
The campaign, after the first training programme ends on July 20, is set to be flagged off by chief minister Manohar Parrikar by July-end. "After the campaign is launched by the chief minister, we will begin our media campaign to raise awareness on the RTE. Para-teachers, cluster and block resource persons of the SSA will be roped in the campaign and survey," Furtado said.
The campaign's idea is to involve local communities to create community awareness about the provisions of RTE, which is about the legal entitlement to basic education for children up to the age of 14 years. The trained SSA personnel will visit schools in teams in each neigbhourhood and hold discussions with the school staff and local community members to draw the requirements of the school to become compliant to the provisions of the RTE by January 2013.
The campaign will cover 905 schools in North Goa and 595 in South Goa starting from the last week of July.

Theni collector looks into progress of school dropouts

Theni collector looks into progress of school dropouts

Padmini Sivarajah, TNN Jul 12, 2012, 01.55AM IST

MADURAI: School dropouts who were enrolled in Theni district under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) are being invited for a meeting with the Theni district collector Dr K S Palanisamy, who wants to ensure that they continue their education without any hurdles.
Fifteen students from the RC school in Theni, including fifth standard student Selvameenal, who was identified by SSA members and enrolled back in school this year after she dropped out of school in the third standard, second standard student Jagadeeswaran and fifth standard student Divya interacted with the collector on Monday, telling him about their difficulties and future goals. Selvameenal told the collector that she was forced to drop out after her father deserted their family. But the little girl expressed her eagerness to study.

Chief Education Officer M Ravichandran said the district had been allotted Rs 29.09 crore under the SSA for the year 2012 - 2013. The SSA staff conducted a survey in the month of April and May this year, identifying 525 dropouts and other children above the age of five who were not attending school. They were then enrolled in the five residential and 15 non-residential SSA schools in the district. The dropout rate had been higher with 625 children identified last year.
Sources at the SSA said that most children who had dropped out of school, came from broken families. Some were also orphans like Sahul Hameed, who has now been enrolled in a school with a hostel, where he is pursuing his fourth standard.
The SSA also caters to special education of physically and mentally challenged children through its resource centres which are equipped with therapies like physiotherapy to help them become self reliant. "The SSA is not just for the normal kids, it is a means for educating children from various sections of the society," said SSA members. Theni district has four day care centres for special children in Theni, Cumbum, Periyakulam and Uthamapalayam, where children are ferried by auto rickshaws from their homes to the centres for a day of special care.
The Theni district collector said he would like to interact with all the children identified and enrolled back in school to study their progress. He has also asked officials to ensure that the bright students are brought into mainstream schools and that the rest are made to reach this mark as well.

Teacher torture: Punishment most foul

Teacher torture: Punishment most foul

Hindustantimes.com   July 09, 2012
First Published: 22:13 IST(9/7/2012) | Last Updated: 08:03 IST(10/7/2012)

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In an incident that sent shock waves across the nation, a hostel warden at Visva Bharati University in West Bengal forced a fifth-class student to drink her own urine as a punishment for bed-wetting.

Uma Poddar, the warden of Karabi Girls' Hostel at the University in Santiniketan, was arrested by the police on Monday, after the 10-year-old victim's parent filed a case against her for the heinous act.
The warden was later granted bail but the university authorities wasted no time in suspending her. Describing the incident as 'deplorable', Visva Bharati university vice-chancellor Sushanta Dasgupta said the warden has been suspended.
The University sources however claimed the warden had made the girl lick the bedsheet she had wetted and had not forced her to drink her urine.
http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/7/visvabharti.jpg

We conducted a poll and asked our readers is punishing a student in such a horrible manner right? An emphatic 97.67 %  readers said no agreeing with the fact that bed-wetting is a medical condition and punishing a child for this is unjustified.
Netizens on social networking sites Twitter and Facebook expressed shock and horror at the unfortunate incident, that has left the 10-year-old traumatised.
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A reader, Nishchal P commented, the warden needs some psychiatric help, adding that kids sometimes suffer from different mental disorders like fear from unknown, attention deficit disorder, etc that can make kids pee in their bed. But this kind of punishment harms more than helps them.
Another reader, Salila was of the opinion that the warden...must be severely punished. "There must be several such cases, but may never come to light. Any parent would want to collect their daughter immediately upon hearing such a thing," she commented.
To the question - Should physical punishments in the name of discipline be banned in schools? - 79.75% people responded positively.
The warden told the girl's mother what she did was a 'treatment to stop a bad habit'. However, her defence did not find any buyers.
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Reader Mohan Jain on Facebook commented, "Uncivilized, disgusting, shameful, unbelievable act. This country is going backwards."
Edward Gura commented, "Really inhuman, especially on an innocent blemish less young soul. What a shame for progressive society."
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) immediately got into action and slapped a notice on the West Bengal government asking it to probe the matter and submit a report in the next 10 days. Prime Minister's Office too sought a report on the incident.

CM nominee to head Goa RTE advisory council

CM nominee to head Goa RTE advisory council

TNN Jul 10, 2012, 03.18AM IST

PANAJI: The Right to Education (RTE) rules require that the state education minister head the state advisory council, the body that will help in effective implementation of RTE provisions.
In Goa, chief minister Manohar Parrikar, who is also the state education minister, is set to opt out of the task and hand over the reins to educationists.

The chief minister is set to nominate Louis Vernal as head of the advisory council.
The chief minister had in June announced that Vernal, the former principal of Ponda's GVM college and dean of the faculty of education at Goa University, would advice the government on the issue on medium of instruction for primary education in Goa.
Once Goa notifies state rules for the central government Right of Child to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, the state advisory council, teh 15 members of which, have already been handpicked by the chief minister, will also be notified.
Parrikar has already asked the members to work on recommendations to improve the quality of primary education in Goa. The report will be submitted for consideration of the government 15 days after the state advisory council is notified.
RTE requires that a 15-member state advisory council be formed 'from amongst persons having knowledge and practical experience in the field of elementary education and child development'.
"The functions of the advisory council shall be to advise the state government on implementation of the provisions of the act in an effective manner," states the act.
The advisory council in Goa will compulsorily include four members from the weaker sections -- SC, ST, OBC and minority communities.
Members of the advisory council will hold office for a term of two years.

Nobody need to certify distance, Zila parishad

Nobody need to certify distance, Zila parishad

Anjaya Anparthi, TNN Jul 10, 2012, 12.46AM IST

NAGPUR: Here's another instance of education officers making their own rules with respect to Right To Education (RTE) bill. The Zilla Parishad (ZP) education officer has absolved Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) of all responsibility of certifying the distance of an applicant's home from school. At the same time, it has ruled that schools should not deny anyone admission for want of a distance or proximity certificate.
Following demands of such certificate, NMC's education department (primary) had written on June 25 to education department, ZP, asking it to clarify under what rule or government directive it is required to issue such a certificate. Education officer (pimary), ZP, Someshwar Naitam in his reply on July 2 clarified that NMC had no responsibility for issuing such a certificate. This when no less than education secretary had asserted local bodies should certify the distance.

"There is no mention about responsibility of NMC to issue distance certificate in the rules framed under RTE. A school may not deny admission for want of distance certificate. The respective school has to verify and take a decision in case any dispute arises with respect of distance," he said. Citing the letter, NMC education officer Ram Dongarwar claimed NMC will not issue any such distance certificate. "Clarification coming from Zilla Parishad settled the matter," he said.

This seems hardly the case. Since the act clearly defines a school within 1 km from home as neighbourhood school, problems may arise. In case a school rules applicant does not stay within the stipulated distance, there is no clarity about resolving the matter. A NMC official said the applicant will have to approach the government or the courts. "ZP should write to the government asking it to clarify or appoint an authority to settle the dispute," he said.

RTE: Asking the Unasked Question

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act (RTE) was passed amid great fanfare by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in August 2009, and came into force on, ironically, Fool’s Day - April 1, 2010. The provisions of the Act and its demerits have been discussed abundantly, and there is little that can be seen as positive in the (probably) well-intentioned but train wreck of legislation. In fact, newspapers have been filled with RTE frictions in school since the Act came into force. In this post, I’ll focus on a an equally serious issue that has received considerably less attention (if at all) from the media or critics.
In all the hungama that has ensued, the bureaucratic machinery of the government has succeeded in doing what they are past masters in: changing the topic. The RTE has become more about quotas and minorities than about education. It has become about giving more people the same poor education than actually reforming India’s decrepit education system to produce able citizens; worse, the government is hijacking private infrastructure to do so. Despite constant reminders from industry about the poor quality of students and shameful results of international evaluations (such as PISA), there is little that the Government is doing to actually improve education in India. And the cost of this non-action? A whopping Rs. 1.78 lakh crores (though there are “assurances” that the cost will decrease by 66% within five years).
Here are some of India’s real problems with education: 1. a poor curriculum, 2. poor quality of teachers, 3. insufficient teachers, 4. high truancy of teachers, 5. inadequate physical resources (buildings, blackboards, drinking water, toilets, etc.), and 6. use of teachers to do non-school work, such as election or census work. Low pay, even lower standards, corruption, populism, and the lack of a philosophy of education have leached any semblance of credibility out of Indian education. Lest this be blamed on insufficient funds, let it be known that despite being a Third World country, India is no longer short of money – the education budget has witnessed a rapid climb from Rs. 204 billion in 1997-2002 through Rs. 438 billion in 2002-2007, Rs. 52,060 crores in 2011, to a planned Rs. 61, 407 crores in 2012. Over three-quarters of this is slated for primary and secondary education.
Despite the financial outlays, India’s education, even when done right, is dismal. The lack of Indian professionals at the cutting edge of intellectual endeavours, be it in terms of prestigious awards such as the Nobel Prize, number of patents held, contribution to international efforts such as the space station or CERN, or even scholarly publications in journals of repute, is a simple yet effective indicator of the poor quality of Indian academic training. As has been pointed out umpteen times by many education experts, industry, and even universities, the Indian student survives by rote learning, not genuinely comprehending a concept. The objection to this practice is, or ought to be obvious, and need not be repeated here. To give a glimpse of how badly such obtuseness and myopia can derail a country, Rucha Joshi, a participant in the International Exhibition for Young Inventors (IEYI), 2008, and author of भारतीय बालवैज्ञानिकांची गरुडझेप (Marathi), points out that the average age of Indians at the exhibition was 17, whereas the average age of the Japanese contingent was closer to 10!
Another problem is the state of curricula itself – science syllabi are infrequently updated, and  the humanities are highly politicised in India. In the latter, the emphasis seems to be not to offend any community rather than give students as many perspectives as possible of a controversial issue. Doing the latter, i.e., presenting a multi-perspectival view, not only forestalls bias in the curriculum but also demonstrates to children how to think about a thorny topic. As is often quoted from the Rig Veda, आ नो भद्राः क्रतवो यन्तु विश्वतः (1.89.1).
This wasting away of India’s most valuable resource – its children – does not stop with merely the loss of future pecuniary benefits to the children themselves, but undercuts national growth (not just financial) in the long run. Social problems will remain unresolved; environmental issues will not be taken with due seriousness; economic questions will be slave to petty party politics; and the twin challenges of inclusive growth and quality of life will receive little to no attention. None of these can be genuinely taken up with a closed mind, an attitude that doesn’t question the status quo. But none of this is the focus of the RTE. Aside from the highly politicised issue of quota, here are some more deeply problematic questions that have been raised by Kapil Sibal’s toxic legislation:
  • II.4 – A child above six who has not been admitted to school yet should be found placement according to age, not merit
  • II.3(1) – A child is defined as one between the ages of 6 and 14, yet every other piece of legislation defines age of majority/emancipation as 18. Surely, this is not inconsistency on the part of the government? Furthermore, in such a competitive age, education until the age of 14 (Std. VIII/IX) is simply inadequate and this early end to the programme makes it wholly ineffective
  • IV.13(2)(b) – A prohibition is placed on any evaluation of a child before admission to a school. Had this not been the case, a genuine case might have been mounted that economically disadvantaged children with aptitude would be served by the RTE. However, as it stands, this condition rejects the notion of meritorious admission.
  • IV.23(2) – A teacher is allowed to teach without credentials for up to five years, in which time the required credentials must be acquired. This stipulation spreads the idea of non-merit from children to teachers. Standards have become mere suggestions.
  • III.7(6) does suggest the development of standards for teachers and a national curriculum for students, but this only suggests that either this has not been done in the past 60+ years after independence (!!) or that it has been hopelessly ineffective. In which case, how is restating it going to help?
Obviously, India needs a massive overhaul in not just education, but also the philosophy of education. Universities have become credentialing offices and are seen only in a utilitarian perspective. The notion of paideia has been completely lost. To paraphrase Thomas Browne, no man should approach the temple of knowledge with the soul of a money changer. And yet, with legislation like the RTE, the government is ensuring that more people get poor and incomplete education, most probably at the cost of deteriorating quality for everyone. Piggybacking on private infrastructure as the RTE does is only a few steps away from the nationalisation enacted by Indira Gandhi in the 1970s which brought the country to its knees.
The focus needs to come back on quality, not quantity. Although the latter is important too, one cannot be sacrificed for the other. By distracting the populace with talk of minorities and reservations, the government is only admitting that it is incapable of the, admittedly, Herculean task. The United Progressive Alliance has abdicated all responsibility for governing, while the primary opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party, is absconding. The RTE has caused bitter opposition across the country which it would not have had the Rs. 1.78 lakh crores been sanctioned to raise teacher pay, raise teacher standards, provide better facilities, and create a functional curriculum (by way of example, I’d suggest something similar to the International Baccalaureate). If even 10% of India’s children can learn to think critically, there is great hope for this mutt of a country. Until then, I cannot help but fall back to an episode of Yes Prime Minister: The National Education Service (Key moments - 4:09-5:46: “Who said about children?,” 11:25-11:36: “Look as if we are trying to do something,” 21:54-22:01: “This is what the DES planned?!”).

Centre's permission to relax teacher norms not a long-term solution


Centre's permission to relax teacher norms not a long-term solution



MUMBAI: Even as the deadline to implement the Right To Education Act lapses today, with many states unable to meet the demands of the act, the education system received another blow with the Centre granting permission to 13 states to relax minimum qualifications for appointment of teachers under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
The relaxation was sought, due to the non-availability of teachers possessing minimum qualifications as laid down by the National Council for Teacher Education, under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
The permission is perhaps imperative to prevent the closure of schools for non-availability of teachers, but it also equally important that the states be given a time-frame within which the targets of providing trained teachers can be met.
The states in question include Bihar, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh.
The Centre on its part announced that it has sanctioned grants of over Rs 6,300 crore to strengthen teacher education during the 12thPlan. But it is essential that these funds trickle down for their intended purpose. It has also given permission to respective State Governments for training of the over 5 lakh in service untrained teachers through distance mode.
The country perhaps needs to also incentivise its teaching profession to be able to plug the shortage of teachers in a sustainable manner.
Of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)'s 19.82 lakh sanctioned teachers, only12.86 lakh teachers have been recruited till December, 2012.

Relaxation on minimum qualification for hiring teachers under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan


New Delhi: The central government on Thursday gave its green signal to 13 states that had sought permission to relax the minimum qualification criteria for appointment of teachers under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan. The states are Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

According to a statement from the Human Resource Development Ministry, the relaxation was sought due to non-availability of teachers possessing the minimum qualifications as laid down by the National Council for Teacher Education under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.

The government has also sanctioned over Rs.6,300 crore to strengthen teacher education in the 12th Plan, the ministry said.

"The main components of the revised scheme are the setting up of new District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs), Colleges of Teacher Education (CTEs) and Institutes of Advance Study in Education (IASEs), as well as strengthening of existing DIETs, CTEs and IASEs," an official from the HRD ministry said.

"The scheme also envisages establishment of Block Institutes of Teacher Education (BITEs) in 196 identified Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and minority districts as elementary pre-service teacher education institutes," the official said.

In addition, National Council For Teacher Education (NCTE) has given permission to states for training of the over five lakh in-service untrained teachers through distance mode.

"The central government has requested the states and the union territories to expedite recruitment of teachers as well as carry out redeployment of existing teachers to ensure all schools have pupil-teacher ratios as laid down under the Right to Education Act," the official said.

According to ministry figures, under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, 19.82 lakh teachers have been sanctioned to states and union territories against which 12.86 lakh teachers have been recruited till December 2012.

Vadodara village gets remedial training centre for special children

Vadodara village gets remedial training centre for special children

 Vadodara, Mon Jul 09 2012, 05:34 hrs

Bajwa, which is surrounded by industries on the outskirt of Vadodara city, has become the first and only village in the district to have a remedial training centre for children with disabilities in the age group of six to 18 years.
Formally inaugurated on Sunday, Bal Gopal Multiple Disability School started functioning last month, thanks to joint efforts of the Bajwa village panchayat and a non-government organisation (NGO).
The centre provides remedial training and education to 53 differently-abled children (mostly mentally challenged) of workers living in Bajwa, Karodiya, Karachiya, Undera and Chhani villages.
"Early this year, I had a survey conducted in the village to find out children who were not attending schools. We came across 65 children who were not going to school as they battled various disabilities," Suresh Thakkar, the then sarpanch of Bajwa said. Subsequently, he contacted a few NGOs to do something for these children but did not receive a favouralbe response. In the meantime, an NGO surveyed Bajwa and some other villages for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan of the state education department.
"We found around 100 children who were not going to school and needed special attention. We approached Bajwa village panchayat to start the centre and they readily agreed to help," said Jayshree Chaudhary, founding president, Astitva Foundation.
Under an agreement, the panchayat gave four rooms to the NGO in the Primary School No 1 to use free of cost. The school authorities had surrendered the rooms to the panchayat as they were not used for lack of students. The centre charges each child Rs 50 per month "to ensure sustained interest from parents".

Govt schools to start LKG, UKG

Govt schools to start LKG, UKG

Bangalore, Jul 7, 2012, DHNS :
Government schools in Bangalore Rural district are all set to extend education to the kindergarten level as well, with 31 of them preparing to start LKG and UKG classes.

At the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) district meeting on Saturday, Labour and Sericulture Minister B N Bache Gowda said private schools had attracted the attention of parents because of the kindergarten education they offered.

Due to this, the enrolment in government schools had dropped.

With the introduction of kindergarten education, admissions in government schools will go up too, said the minister.

The department of public instruction is starting the programme in co-ordination with the women and child welfare department.

In schools where anganwadis are run in their premises, kindergarten classes will be held in the same place.

The 31 government higher primary schools will also begin class 8 as part of the continuous comprehensive evaluation system, which seeks to consider class 6 to 8 as higher primary, while class 9 and 10 will be high school, Gowda said.

The budget for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan this year is Rs 29.82 crore, which is more than twice the previous year’s Rs 13.82 crore.

Of this, nearly Rs 7.5 crore has been set aside for buildings of 210 schools, the minister said.

Department of public instruction deputy director H V Venkateshappa, Bangalore Rural zilla panchayat president Bhagyamma, education and health standing committee president Kalpana and others were present.

NCPCR seeks inquiry into non-availability of books in schools

NCPCR seeks inquiry into non-availability of books in schools

TNN Jul 8, 2012, 05.30AM IST

JAMSHEDPUR: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, (NCPCR), the monitoring agency for the implementation of the Right to Education (RTE Act, 2009) at the national level, has sought inquiry into non-availability of books in the state-run public schools.
In a letter sent to NCPCR, the state unit has recommended an inquiry into the issue.
"We have sought a probe from the national commission into the alleged negligence of the state government (human resources department) into the issue of non-availability of books even after four months into the session)," said NCPCR state representative, Ganesh Reddy.

Expressing disappointment over non-implementation of RTE guidelines in private and public schools the NCPCR representative said its unfortunate but, at the same time urged upon the government to abide by the RTE guidelines.
"By and large the impression is that RTE Act has not been realized properly in the state and I hold the state government largely responsible for the current situation," said Reddy who is on a visit to the district to hold interaction with RTE activists. Talking to the press at the local circuit house, Reddy said soon the government will hold siksha samvad (dialogue with all stake holders in the field of education) at the panchayat and block levels to address doubts regarding RTE and its implementation.
"RTE is not merely about ensuring free and compulsory education to the economically and socially deprived people but also about sound school infrastructure, efficient running of mid-day-meal scheme and providing hygienic school environment," said Reddy referring to the points where the HRD department in the state has failed to perform at par with expectations.
Taking a strong view of the private unaided English schools that have refused to entertain economically poor children on one pretext or the other, Reddy said: "It just reflects the attitude of these schools towards the under privileged sections of the society."

Official language in unspeakable crisis

Ashpuneet Kaur Sandhu, Hindustan Times
Bathinda, July 07, 2012
First Published: 12:45 IST(7/7/2012)
Last Updated: 12:49 IST(7/7/2012)

Punjab's government schools are short of Punjabi teachers.
In contrast, private educational institutes that so often get the rap for not teaching the official language, do a better job of introducing children to their mother tongue. In all central, Navodya and army schools
affiliated with the central board of secondary education (CBSE) or Indian certificate secondary education (ICSE), Punjabi is a compulsory subject from class 1 to 10. Via a notification on March 22, 2010, the state government amended clause (e) of Section-2 of the Punjab, Punjabi and Learning of Other Languages Act, 2008, to make its teaching mandatory. Where private schools have obeyed the rule, many government schools, especially in Bathinda district, don't have even one teacher of the subject, thanks to vacant posts. "The state government is responsible for all the recruitment," said district education officer (senior secondary) Hardeep Singh, when reached for answers.
Of the 310 posts of Punjabi teacher in the district, 130 are vacant. "Earlier my son read Punjabi as an optional subject," said Gurpreet Singh, father of a private school student. "Now it is mandatory, even to students from outside states."
The government schools require teachers of many other subjects as well, as many sanctioned posts are vacant. "Every week, we write to the education minister about vacancies," said DEO Hardeep Singh.
Education minister Sikander Singh Maluka was unavailable for comments.
Violates RTE Act
Under Section 9 (f) of the Right to Education Act, 2009, local authority has the duty of providing schools with infrastructure, teachers, and learning material.

Why were they at construction site and not in school?

Why were they at construction site and not in school?

Tanu Kulkarni
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TOO POOR: A migrant worker said he was too poor to miss even a day’s work and so couldn’t afford to pick up and drop his children from school. File Photo: K. Gopinathan
The Hindu TOO POOR: A migrant worker said he was too poor to miss even a day’s work and so couldn’t afford to pick up and drop his children from school. File Photo: K. Gopinathan

Migrant labourers’ kids are left with no option but to stay with their parents

On July 5, the fire force personnel rescued three children — Malashree (7), Bagamma (6) and Kanakashree (an infant less than a year old), when a three-storey building caved in at Garudacharpalya in Mahadevapura.
It was 11.15 a.m. on Wednesday and the trio should ideally have been in classrooms or in an anganwadi rather than playing at the construction site where their parents were working.
About 15 minutes later, the building caved in, trapping the three.

Plight

Their parents are among several migrant labourers in K.R. Puram who have no alternative arrangements to park their children while they work. Beerappa, an uncle of one of the children, said: “We have nobody to take care of them. So we bring them to the construction site.”

Drought situation

Asked why the older children were not in school, he said: “We are poor people and we cannot miss even a day’s work. We can’t afford to drop and pick them up every day.”
There are hundreds of such youngsters who are deprived of basic education because of parental constraints. A large number of construction workers in the city are migrants from other districts of the State.
With the drought situation being severe, their numbers have spiked this season. The children and their families at Garudacharpalya are migrants from the drought-hit Yadgir district in north Karnataka.
The presence of the children at the construction site raises several questions on the grand promises made about bringing disadvantaged children into the mainstream, especially when the Right to Education (RTE) Act guarantees free and compulsory education till the age of 14.

Crèche facilities

Labour Commissioner S.R. Umashankar said: “When there are more than 20 children at a building site, we ask the construction company to provide crèche facilities. But we cannot prescribe standards for small residential buildings.”
Tushar Girinath, State Project Director of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, admitted that bringing migrant children into schools was a tough call. “Most of the construction workers are migrants; we are not in a position to track these children.”
Mr. Girinath said that help from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and co-ordination between departments is required to ensure that the children of migrants are enrolled into schools.
At a recent press conference, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri had said that about 4,000 children — especially from migrant families — have never been enrolled in schools in Karnataka.

Seamy side of schooling

Seamy side of schooling

- Residential cradles for the poor stun child rights panel
Ranchi, June 18: If you are a needy child — boy or girl doesn’t matter — from the margins and are lucky to have bagged a berth at a government-run residential school, welcome to textbooks but please don’t expect toilets.
This shocking truth is revealed by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in its scathing report following visits to Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya, Gumla, and Residential School for Tribal Boys, Baridih, under Ranchi district. These schools, tucked in the grimy, poverty-ridden folds of the hinterland, makes a mockery of the Right to Education Act due to the sheer hardship shorn of dignity that comes hand in hand with basic schooling.
Windows lack curtains, staircases railings, toilets running water. Soaps, bulbs and brooms are unheard-of luxuries. This is life at the girls-only Kasturba Gandhi residential school in Gumla, which the national child rights panel does not know what to make of, even after examining its Palamau counterpart that ran out of a boys’ observation home.
The panel’s visit was a link in a greater chain of events. A minor Gumla girl was abused for days at a New Delhi home where she worked as a maid, raising nationwide outrage. A national commission team comprising members Dinesh Laroia and Vinod Kumar Tikoo, registrar B.K. Sahu and senior consultant Ramanath Nayak came to Gumla to understand how mechanics of poverty, migration and trafficking force minor girls out of homes. The team visited the Kasturba Gandhi school on April 28 as part of this visit.
In its report to the state government, the members said Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya at Bharno, Gumla, some 50km from the capital, had a pucca building with a boundary wall, but that’s where the good news ended.
One hundred and sixty-eight girls — against the sanctioned strength of 240 — stay in rooms with uneven floors, uncovered windows and no doors. The school does not have proper electricity connection. A generator set operates for three hours a day, from 6pm to 9pm. Most young girls stayed on the first floor where the stairway does not have railings. Girls told the commission members that staying on the first floor was risky during bad weather and they were “scared” at night. The commission found the toilet complex “unusable”.
In its report, the commission has asked the administration to ensure power, proper doors and windows, railing for stairs, toilet facility, gas or kerosene lamps and solar torches, as well as repair the ground floor toilet complex.
The Gumla administration responded with a mixed bag of half-hearted work, excuses and explanations.
Gumla deputy commissioner Rahul Sharma assured “prompt action”. But district superintendent of education Arjun Prasad said the building was under construction and had not been handed over to the government by the Gram Siksha Samiti, which was facing a financial bungling probe.
Prasad added that the administration had constructed a toilet complex and completed electric wiring. “But fitting doors will take time,” he said.
At Residential School for Tribal Boys at Baridih, Ranchi district, which the commission visited on the same day, 248 boys were found to be staying in utter filth, said the commission.
The school lacked basic facilities like water, toilets, floors, bulbs, brooms and soaps.
The building was dilapidated. A section has been declared by the government as “unfit for use”, but the open kitchen lies within the danger zone.
The school lacks a functional toilet complex. Irrespective of season or time of day, boys go to the river, 1.5km from the building, to bathe and relieve themselves.
The commission asked the state government to immediately get the toilets functional, ensure running water, replace fused electric bulbs and arrange safe electric wiring in the hostel rooms.
The then tribal welfare commissioner Pravin Toppo had assured “immediate action”.
Ranchi welfare officer Dasrath Raut, however, sounded practical. “We have written many times to the state government for funds. Where is the money?” he asked.

NCPCR bats for strict implementation of RTE in disturbed areas

NCPCR bats for strict implementation of RTE in disturbed areas

PTI | 01:06 PM,Jun 24,2012 New Delhi, Jun 24 (PTI) Citing increasing instances of children being targeted in Jammu and Kashmir and the North- East, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has called for strict implementation of the Right to Education Act in such places to check the practice. The national child rights body also described as "disturbing" and "worrying" reports of children being recruited by extremist groups and targeted by officials in "encounters". "Adolescent girls and boys in areas of civil unrest are increasingly falling prey to trafficking, child labour and underground groups. "This clearly shows the lacuna in the education system in these areas," Shanta Sinha, chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), told PTI. "These children are far more vulnerable also because we don't have a universal secondary education system. RTE must be strictly implemented in these places to give newer opportunities and scope for newer dreams," she said. Refusing to name any particular group, Sinha said there are increasing instances of children being recruited by "underground" groups and "in rare cases targeted by officials in encounters". "Children are being made scapegoats in the crossfire between officials and underground groups. While the former recruits them, they are in rare cases targeted in encounters by officials, who suspect them of being part of some extremist group, even if they are actually not. This is worrying and disturbing," she said. Sinha's observation is buttressed by the annual report of the UN Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, submitted to the Security Council last week, which said that information had been received on recruitment and use of children by naxalites, particularly in Chhattisgarh and some districts in adjoining states. The child rights body also expressed concern about the influx of children from "disturbed" areas to other states in search of better education and livelihood. "This is a displacement of sorts. Children are separated from their families, culture and environment in a manner that is quite exploitative as their parents are usually poor. This only shows the need to bolster the education system, which has been weakened by the unrest," Sinha said. She said the government and the child rights body are leaving "no stone unturned" in addressing children's needs comprehensively in 'disturbed' areas and schemes like 'Bal Bandhu', implemented in 10 states, have met with "astounding success". "Besides, we had in the earlier stage done social audit in 12 states and developed a template to train communities on how to audit schools and to see how RTE is being implemented and it has turned out well. "We started it as a pilot project and now we are trying to introduce this pilot to all the educational departments and asking them to replicate it," she said.