Child rights activists have urged the new government in the State to implement the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, beyond the provision that promises 25 per cent reservation for children belonging to “weaker and disadvantaged groups” in private unaided schools.
At a seminar on the RTE Act here on Tuesday, Kumar Sringeri, assistant project coordinator, Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University, said: “The reservation provision is only one section of the entire Act. Other aspects of the Act are completely ignored.”
‘Involve GP members’
Mr. Sringeri said educating and involving gram panchayat members will go a long way in making education accessible to the marginalised sections of society.”
Sharada K.S., State vice-president, Janavadi Mahila Sanghatane, said there was an urgent need to ensure that schools comply with the RTE norms regarding infrastructure and student-teacher ratio. “It has been more than three years of the implementation of the Act at the Central level and a year since it was enforced in Karnataka. There is a need to put pressure and ensure that schools are monitored ward-wise.”
Ananth Naik, State president, Students’ Federation of India (SFI), alleged that the government had colluded with the private school lobby and continued to “exploit” parents on the issue of fees. “There is no regulation on the fee charged by private schools and the management of these schools have taken advantage of this. The government should set an upper limit [for the fees] and ensure that schools don’t charge more than that.” He said the government reimbursement of fees to private unaided schools for children admitted under the RTE quota was extremely high when compared with other States. “The government is funding private schools in the form of reimbursements. It seems like the government is sponsoring privatisation. It should focus on strengthening government schools instead,” he said.
Responding to this, Palakshaiah, consultant at the RTE Cell, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, said effective implementation of the Act called for convergence of various departments, including Women and Child Development, and Rural Development and Panchayat Raj.
The federation will launch a Statewide protest demanding effective implementation of the Act, on June 6. Among its main demands is strengthening the school development and management committees.