The six weeks' time given by the Madras High Court to the State government to notify the rules under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, has elapsed and the delay is causing concern to activists and academicians.

It was on June 28 this year that the Madras High Court directed the government to notify the rules within six weeks.

Academicians say notifying the rules is important for the State to implement the provisions of the RTE Act. The draft rules prepared after consultation with various stakeholders in the State for implementation of the Act was submitted in April 2011, after which it was sent to be cleared by different departments, including Law.

At least 13 States, including Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Orissa, Sikkim, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Mizoram, have so far notified their rules.

“Notifying means prescribing the rules precisely on how the Act should be implemented. Also, gaps in the original Act can be filled only through the notification,” said K. Shanmugavelayutham, convener, Tamil Nadu Forum for Creche and Childcare Services (TN-FORCES).

Henri Tiphagne, Special Representative for Tamil Nadu, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said the RTE rules have to be notified not just to get more clarity but for the State to constitute the State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights. “Cases of child sexual abuse and corporal punishment are increasing in the State. In the last 15 days, we received two such complaints. If we had an Act, there would be more clarity on the action,” said Mr. Tiphagne.

“Process is on”

An official of the School Education Department said the process to notify the rules under the RTE Act was still on and would be published soon.

The RTE Act asks private educational institutions to reserve 25 per cent of their seats to underprivileged children from their neighbourhood, not to detain children up to class VIII, to have an ideal student-teacher ratio, constitute school management committees and to offer quality education, among other things. While the School Education Department has issued circulars to schools to implement a few of the provisions of the RTE Act, experts say notification was needed to fully carry out the mandate of the legislation.

“Once the final rules are out, the State should concentrate on appointing more qualified teachers for government schools, and also look at the infrastructure availability in schools – both as per mandated by the RTE,” Mr. Shanmugavelayutham added.

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Liffy ThomasJune 28, 2012