Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Child Rights and You (CRY) has called for raising the budgetary support for education to at least 10 per cent of the GDP as one of the important measures for addressing shortfalls in the landmark Right to Education Act 2009.

The child rights advocacy organisation, while hailing the promulgation of the Act as a positive step, said the proviso to bring down the budgetary allocation from the inadequate ratio of 3 per cent of the GDP in the Act would be counterproductive to the cause. CRY, which organised a public hearing on “Equal Education for All” on Wednesday, also called for evolving monitoring mechanisms involving local NGOs and child rights activists to supervise functioning of schools and for establishing grievance redressal forums at the community level.

Regina Thomas, CRY Director (South) said another major shortcoming of the Act was the exclusion of children in the 0-6 and 15-18 age groups that curtailed the benefit. CRY urged the Centre to take steps to ensure that there was a school with good infrastructure and quality teachers within one kilometre of habitation.

Earlier, five case studies of underprivileged children being denied the basic right to education were presented at the public hearing. If Selvi (5) and Nithya (4) faced caste-based discrimination at an Anganwadi in Tirunelveli village, children like Kalimuthu, who hails from a hamlet in Tuticorin, have to endure poor standard of teaching. P. Cinnathampi narrated the deplorable condition of a tribal residential hostel attached to a school in Kodaikanal.

At the conclusion of the hearings, Janardhanam, chairman Tamil Nadu Backward Class Commission, said though the Tamil Nadu Government had launched progressive measures for communities like the Arundhathiyars, more had to be done to guarantee quality education to all sections of society.

Vasanti Devi, former Vice-Chancellor, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University stressed the importance of addressing the shortcomings of the 2009 Act in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals on the education front. S. Rajagopalan, educationist and K. Shanmuga Velayutham, department of social work, Loyola College, spoke.

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