The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill 2010 that widens the net for disabled children bringing under its purview children with severe disability. Such children would have the option of receiving education at home.

It gives school management committees an advisory role in minority schools, both aided and unaided, and puts madrasas and Vedic schools and other institutions providing primarily religious instruction outside the mandate of the Act.

Moving the Bill, Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said it provided the right to receive home-based education to children with severe disabilities.

Mr. Sibal said: “It is a historic piece of legislation and will have a huge impact on quality education to children between classes 1 and 8 in the 6-14 age group.”

“The Bill will change the way we look at education. You can have a legislation but it needs to be implemented,” he said and called for involving key stake-holders, including children, parents, non-governmental organisations and schools and not just the government alone.

Mr. Sibal said parents would have the option of providing home-based education to children with severe disabilities and said the clause should not be used as an instrument by institutions to deny admission.

This is the first education bill to be passed in Parliament in two years. The Minister hoped that all pending education bills would also be passed as these dealt with the future of children. There are 13 pending education bills in Parliament.

Mr. Sibal pointed out that the amendment goes beyond the Supreme Court, which kept unaided minority school out of the purview of the Act. As per the amendment, the school management committee will not have the final authority in all minority schools and its role will be advisory.

Though not within the purview of the amendment, Mr. Sibal responded to issues raised about the 25 per cent quota for children from economically weaker sections. He said that most private schools would be happy for the money that the government would pay for taking these children in, as what the government spent was higher than what these schools spent or charged.

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