Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bring Unaided Minority Schools within the ambit of RTE Act- AIPA

Bring Unaided Minority Schools within the ambit of RTE Act- AIPA

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N4E Correspondent
New Delhi.
All India parent Association has Request for taking up the issues like Amendment of the Constitution to bring Unaided Minority Schools within the ambit of RTE Act, 2009, Amendment of RTE Act, 2009 to include Pre-primary Classes and Framing of National Policy on Fees in Unaided Private Schools.

In a letter written to Dr. M.M. Pallam Raju, Union HRD Minister, AIPA has said that The Hon’ble Supreme Court in its Judgment dated 12.04.2012 in Society for Unaided Private Schools of Rajasthan v. Union of India, have held that Article 21-A of the Constitution of India does not apply to unaided minority schools and therefore, the provisions of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act, 2009) do not apply to Unaided Minority Schools.

The forthcoming meeting of Central Advisory Board of Education scheduled to be held on 02.04.2013 at New Delhi.

"However, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has pointed out that Unaided Minority Schools can be brought within the purview of Article 21-A if an amendment is made in the Constitution of India to include the unaided minority schools within the purview of Article 21-A of the Constitution of India. It is submitted that keeping unaided minority schools out of the purview of Article 21-A of the Constitution of India has not only resulted in discrimination amongst the children but has also resulted in depriving the children attending such private schools of various valuable rights as incorporated in the RTE Act, 2009," AIPA has said.

According to AIPA President Ashok Agrawal, It has also been noticed that after the aforesaid Judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, many non-minority private schools are converting themselves into unaided minority schools to avoid the obligation of admitting 25% children belonging to disadvantaged group/EWS and to grant them free ship. It has also resulted in schools becoming exclusive schools instead of inclusive schools. It is therefore, necessary that the Constitution of India be amended so to include Unaided Minority Schools within the purview of Article 21-A of the Constitution of India so that the provisions of RTE Act, 2009 become applicable to unaided minority schools as well. (ii) Amendment in RTE Act, 2009 to cover Pre-Primary Classes as well Your attention is invited to para 43 of the Judgment dated 19.02.2013 of a Division Bench of Hon’ble Delhi High Court passed in Writ Petition (C) No.8533/2010 entitled: Social Jurist v. GNCT of Delhi & Another’ which reads as under: “43.

In the letter AIPA has said, Though we have held that Right to Education Act is not applicable to nursery schools, in our opinion there cannot be any difference yardstick to be adopted for education to children up to the age of 14 years irrespective of the fact that it applies to only elementary education. It is the right time for the Government to consider the applicability of Right to Education Act to the nursery classes as well, as in many of the States admissions are made right from the nursery classes and the children so admitted are automatically allowed to continue from Class-I. In that sense, the provisions of Section 13 would be rendered meaningless insofar as it prohibits screening procedure at the time of selection. Importance of education is per se applicable to every child right from admission to nursery classes till it completes the eighth standard.

It is common knowledge that though the there is obligation on the State to provide free and compulsory education to children and the corresponding responsibility of the institution to afford the same, educational institution cannot be allowed to run as “Teaching Shops” as the same would be detrimental to equal opportunity to children. This reality must not be ignored by the State while considering the observations made in this judgment. Hence, we only observe that to avail the benefit of the Right to Education Act to a child seeking for nursery school as well, necessary amendment should be considered by the State. We hope and trust that the Government may take the above observation in the right spirit and act accordingly.”

It is submitted that the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in the above Judgment has emphasized upon the importance of bringing within the ambit of RTE Act, 2009 not only the children in the age group 6 to 14 but also children below 6 years to make the Act meaningful qua the rights of the children. It is therefore, necessary that the Government should bring amendment in the RTE Act, 2009 to include the children below 6 years of age and particularly the children in the age group of 3 to 6 years so as to save them from harassment at the hands of unaided private Schools.

As of now, in view of the said judgment, it is open to the private schools to subject children below six to screening procedure for admissions at the entry level, despite the prohibition of Section 13 of the RTE Act, 2009. Inclusion of 3 to 6 years of age children within the purview of RTE Act, 2009 is also necessary to prevent commercialization of education in Unaided Private Schools. (iii) Framing of National Policy on Fees in Unaided Private Schools. A Division Bench of Hon’ble Delhi High Court in its Judgment dated 12.08.2011 in case of ‘Social Jurist v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi & Others (Writ Petition (C) No.7777/2009) has asked the Central Government to frame National Policy on fee-regulation in private unaided schools. It is submitted that the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in the said case was dealing with a PIL highlighting the arbitrary and unjustified fee hike every year by Unaided Private Schools in Delhi and the Government has failed to check the menace of commercialization of education.

It is submitted that the parents all over the country whose wards are studying in unaided private schools are agitating against arbitrary fee hike every year by the private schools and therefore, this problem is not confined to one state or another but exists all over the country. It is submitted that so far, the States of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra only have enacted legislation regulating fee and other charges chargeable by unaided private schools. In other States, there are no legislations regulating fee and other charges chargeable by unaided Private Schools.

Even the legislations enacted by the states of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra are not much satisfactory as they have not been able to check the menace of commercialization of education in unaided private schools. It is submitted that in fact there is a pressing need of a Central Legislation regulating fee and other charges chargeable by unaided private schools all over the country, ensuring prevention of commercialization of education by these schools. In order to ensure prevention of commercialization and to provide an opportunity to the parents to intervene in school education, it is necessary that such enactment may also provide at least 50% representation of the parents in the Managing Committees of such schools.

It is needless to say that in regard to the state-funded schools, the RTE Act, 2009 has provided to the extent of 75% representation of the parents in the School Managing Committee. It is therefore, requested that a Central Legislation be enacted for regulation of fee and other charges in Unaided Private Schools and the legislation should ensure at least 50% representation to the parents in the Managing Committee of such schools. We sincerely hope and expect that the afore-mentioned issues of great public importance would also be taken up in the forthcoming meeting of Central Advisory Board of Education scheduled to be held on 02.04.2013 at New Delhi.

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