More awareness about the provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act needs to be created among the public, according to civil society groups.

It was pointed out that only the NGOs and civil societies had created awareness while the government had not organised campaigns or taken any initiative. They were participating in a two-day State-level consultation organised from Tuesday by Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL) in collaboration with UNICEF.

The set of recommendations was handed over to senior officials of the School Education Department, including the Director of Elementary Education, State Project Director for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Director of Teacher Education Research and Training and Chairman of the State government's Advisory Committee on the RTE Act.

The draft rules for the RTE Act should be in line with the model rules put forth by the Centre, one of the recommendations said. The active participation of panchayat representatives and members of civil society should be included in the rules of the State government.

The role of the State Management Committee (SMC) should be clearly defined in the State rules, said Vidyasagar Ramamurthy, Child protection specialist, UNICEF.

The Central model has a clear mention of the responsibilities of the SMC, which is a salient feature of the Act, but this is yet to find a clear mention in the State rules.

Similarly, the functioning of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) and the obligation such as conducting meetings every month have been skipped in the State-drafted rules, the speakers said.

The recommendations were arrived at after discussion over the suggestions made by 21 district-level consultation reports submitted earlier.

The State representative of NCPCR for RTE in Tamil Nadu, Henri Thiphagne also held a discussion with the Director of School Education on Wednesday. They have agreed to follow up on the various cases that came up at the public hearing conducted by the NCPCR recently.

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