Tuesday, March 12, 2013

'State yet to enforce RTE amendments for disabled'

'State yet to enforce RTE amendments for disabled'

Swati Shinde Gole, TNN Oct 7, 2012, 04.33AM IST

PUNE: Right to Education (RTE) activists in the city have claimed that the amendments made in the RTE Act for children with disabilities in April this year have still not been enforced by the state government. Activists have written to the state education department urging the authorities to include the amendments in RTE rules that are being implemented in the state. One of the major amendments in the Act states that disabilities, such as autism, cerebral palsy, and mentally-challenged students should also be included in the framework of the RTE.
City-based organisations such as Action for the Rights of the Child (ARC), a network of 30 non-governmental organisations in the city working for child rights, Centre for Learning Resources (CLR), and Abled Disabled All People Together (ADAPT) have urged that the state government

adopt the amendments made in the act so that children with disabilities benefit from the concession given to them.
John Kurrien, director emeritus, CLR, said, "The amended RTE Act incorporates a broader and more holistic view of the rights of children with disabilities, and has far-reaching implications for policy, curriculum and classroom pedagogy. We need to ensure that as more and more disabled children enter into government and private schools, they receive the education they are entitled to."
The activists in their letter pointed out that a limited perspective on children with disabilities is reflected in the present RTE rules implemented by the state.
The Rajya Sabha passed the amended RTE Act on April 24 this year while the 'Right to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2012' was passed by the Lok Sabha a month later. "The RTE rules that are being implemented by the state government were issued before the new amendment came into force. Hence, new notifications need to be issued by the state government, which would enable them to implement a broader and more inclusive perspective on children with disability," Kurrien said.
Nakul Kate, coordinator of ARC, said, "The amended Act broadens the definition of disability. In the original Act, the definition of disability does not go beyond physical disabilities. It now includes The definition of disability is now broadened to also include autism, cerebral palsy, mentally-challenged children, among others."
Kate added: "It is important that the state government takes notice of this and enforce the rules so that schools and institutions in the state are aware of the specific disabilities that are now covered in the amended RTE act."
The amended RTE Act constitutes under Section 3, a new sub-section which explicitly refers to the right of children with disabilities to free and compulsory elementary education in a neighbourhood school. It also notes that children with multiple disabilities may also opt for home-based education. The amendments also
explicitly note that a child with disability is a 'child belonging to disadvantaged group', along with SC, ST and other groups.
Mithu Alur, founder chairperson, ADAPT, said, "Both these rights and their implications need to be communicated to the concerned through a government notification. Awareness campaigns among schools and principals need to be conducted by the regional offices of the education department so that children with disability get their due. The state government is being very lethargic in implementing these amended rules."
S Deshmukh, state project director, RTE, said, "We are implementing RTE in phases across the state. There are several changes to be made in the education system under the RTE and all cannot be implemented all at once. Implementation of RTE rules for children with disabilities is also on the cards and will come forth in due course of time."

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