Academics, schools and parents have welcomed the notification of the rules under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, but say much of the emphasis now lies in creating awareness about RTE.

As stakeholders had to wait for at least six months since the draft rules were thrown open to discussions, Tuesday's green signal for final rules came as a relief to many. The notification also came just in time, as kindergarten admission is set to begin in most schools from next month.

The rules have a role for every stakeholder. Director of School Education P. Mani said more awareness programmes would start soon and what was needed was the people's participation to achieve compulsory education for all children. “Our immediate agenda would be to ask schools to form School Management Committees,” he added.

Most of the recommendations proposed by civil society members have been incorporated. The composition and functions of the School Management Committee (SMC) have been given more strength. The rules mandate that every school, other than an unaided school, should have not less than nine members within its jurisdiction on the committee, with 75 per cent of the strength comprising parents or guardians of children.

As local authorities have also been included in the SMC, there is a need to amend the stipulations for the role of these local bodies to make the provision effective, said K. Shanmugavelayutham, convener, Tamil Nadu Forum for Creche and Childcare Services. P.B. Prince Gajendra Babu, general secretary, State Platform for Common School System, said the biggest boon in the rules was that it gave more recognition to the role of a teacher. “Whether it is in textbook formation, curriculum design and development of syllabi, a teacher's role is better defined now,” he said.

Talking on behalf of the unaided schools, N. Vijayan, correspondent and principal of Zion Matriculation Higher Secondary School, said school managements were happy that clarity had been given on how schools that make admissions under the 25 per cent reservation for children from disadvantaged groups and weaker sections can reimburse fees. The safety of children was ensured as they would be admitted in schools located close by.“But, there is no clarity on how students will be admitted when a school gets hundreds of applications for a particular class – how do we select?” he asked.

The challenges ahead are many. “Government should work from now onwards to ensure implementation of 25 per cent reservation for disadvantaged and weaker sections and create consensus amongst private school managements for a win-win situation,” said A.Narayanan, social activist.

Keywords: RTE Act

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