Working Group suggests Ministry ask States to establish monitoring and grievance redress architecture

The Right to Education Act’s guidelines need to be strengthened to help end discrimination in schools, whether based on caste, religion, gender, disability, class or language, by setting up an effective grievance redress and monitoring machinery.

This was one of the themes discussed by the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) when it met here on Monday to approve in principle the recommendations of the Working Group set up to look at this issue.

The Working Group, headed by Farah Naqvi, has recommended that the Human Resource Development Ministry ask the States to establish a monitoring and grievance redress architecture from local to the State and national levels; that the Ministry, along with the States, institutionalise mechanisms for dialogue and mediation that ensures the participation of all stakeholders in resolving grievances, individual and systemic; and make provisions for capacity-building of all personnel involved with this task while creating inter-ministerial coordination mechanisms at the Centre and the State level for better convergence.

The Working Group also wants the Ministry of Women and Child Development to strengthen the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and the State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) by undertaking institutional reform measures within the SCPCRs and augmenting both human and financial resources.

On ending discrimination in schools, it wants the HRD Ministry, along with the States, to take steps to define discrimination, preparing an equality declaration and a Code of Conduct for schools and create mechanisms for children to engage with issues of diversity and learn non-discriminatory behaviour.

It has also suggested reforms in teacher education and training for preparing and training teachers to handle discrimination and engaging with issues of identity, diversity, processes of social exclusion and inclusion. Grievance redress, it feels, should be done as far as possible in a non-adversarial manner through dialogue, training of school management committees and local authorities on discrimination and by evolving a time-bound and confidential way of resolution, in which civil society groups could be involved. However, if the non-adversarial route does not work, then it wants punitive action taken.

Small farmers

The NAC also discussed the draft report of its Working Group headed by Ashis Mondal on raising incomes of small and marginal farmers by organising them into collectives and extending to them the benefits of private trade outside the mandis. The report will be finalised in a few days and its recommendations will be sent to the government.

Apart from Ms. Gandhi, others who attended the meeting were Anu Aga, Mihir Shah, Aruna Roy, Ashis Mondal, Mirai Chatterjee, Ms. Naqvi, Deep Joshi and A.K. Shiva Kumar.

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