School Education Department is aware of challenges in implementing the Act, says Secretary

A helpdesk to offer clarifications, when sought, on the Right To Education (RTE) Act has been set up at the Directorate of Teacher Education Research and Training (DTERT) here.

For any query on the implementation of the Act, or clarification on specific clauses one could contact the help desk on 044-28278742, said D. Sabitha, Secretary to the School Education Department.

She was addressing senior officials of the department, school heads and teacher-trainers as part of a training session on the Act organised by the DTERT on Thursday.

The department was aware of the challenges before it in implementing the Act, but was fully geared up to meet them, she said. “We have to ensure that homeless children and students living in hilly areas also receive uninterrupted and quality education. As a team, we acknowledge these challenges and will do our best to meet them.”

School Education Minister N.R. Sivapathy said education was a priority area for the government. “The Chief Minister had indicated that school education would be given a lot of emphasis even before the elections, in her election manifesto,” he said.

Urging teachers, parents and school managements to ensure that every clause of the Act is diligently implemented, he said: “Teachers must ensure that there is no gap between them and the children. They should be role models and treat students like their own children.” As many as 12 Government Orders pertaining to the RTE Act have been issued so far.

Highlighting some key initiatives, Mr. Sivapathy said nearly 65 primary schools had been upgraded to middle schools. As many as 210 middle schools had been upgraded to high schools and 100 high schools to higher secondary schools. Around 53,000 teachers were being recruited this year.

The trimester and Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) to be implemented by the department would go a long way in reducing the burden on students, he said.

The Minister released a manual with guidelines on the Act, applicable to different stakeholders. It also outlined the punishments and disciplinary action that would be initiated in case of violation of the clauses. The training on RTE Act would be extended to as many as 1.25 lakh teachers in the coming weeks, organisers said.

While the 12 GOs in regard to the RTE Act have taken care of several provisions, the government is yet to constitute the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) mandated by the Act.

The SCPCR, as an independent body, would have the power to investigate into any case that deals with complaints relating to violations of the RTE Act or child rights in general.

On when the SCPCR would be constituted, a senior official of the department said the Social Welfare Department was also involved in the process. The files were in circulation, the official said.

The SCPCR is an important component of the RTE Act. As an appellate authority, it will monitor the implementation of various clauses of the Act and take up issues pertaining to violation of child rights.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in New Delhi has, for over a year, been urging States to set up the SCPCRs swiftly.

When contacted, chairperson of the NCPCR Shanta Sinha said: “Around 12 States have already set up their SCPCR. One would expect a progressive State like Tamil Nadu to have constituted one by now. The State government should do so at the earliest, for the Commission can monitor various aspects such as recruitment and training of teachers, teacher-pupil ratio. It is an absolute necessity in the context of the RTE Act.”

This article has been corrected for a factual error.

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