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Parents should use RTI for education rights of children

Parents should use RTI for education rights of children
Highlights

The Right to Education Act, 2009, explains that schools have a duty to give information to local bodies or government. Section 12 (3) says: “Every...

The Right to Education Act, 2009, explains that schools have a duty to give information to local bodies or government. Section 12 (3) says: “Every school shall provide such information as may be required by the appropriate Government or the local authority, as the case may be.

If school is established by the Government or aided, it has to provide that information as ‘public authority’ under Right to Information Act, to every citizen seeking that information.

If it is a private school, not getting any aid from the state, not even concession like land at reduced rate, they also should give information as private body funded indirectly by the state, which means that it is a public authority.

The private schools which got such concessional land are not entitled to any reimbursement of fee or expenditure incurred on 25 per cent backward classes, as prescribed by the Right to Education Act under Section 12, which says: where such school is already under obligation to provide free education to a specified number of children on account of it having received any land, building, equipment or other facilities, either free of cost or at a concessional rate, such school shall not be entitled for reimbursement to the extent of such obligation.”

There are three main duties of parents and guardians: to admit or cause to be admitted his or her child or ward to an elementary education in the neighbourhood school, Section 10, to implement the rights of minor children under this RTE Act, and to seek information about implementation of these rights under RTE Act through RTI Act.

Section 2 (c) "child" means a male or female child of the age of six to fourteen years. Thus the parents in their capacity as guardians have to enforce the rights of their children, who are minors. They have:

1.Right/Duty to secure education for their children from Government as per S 3 of RTEA;
2.Right/Duty to get admission to their children above 6 years of age, but not admitted S4;
3.Right/Duty to get School established, s6;
4.Right/Duty to secure proper sharing of funds from Centre and States, s7;
5.Right/Duty to ensure appropriate Government and local authority to fulfil their obligations under Section 8 & 9;
6.Right/Duty to secure duties of schools to be implemented, s12;
7.Right/Duty to information under section 12(3) and also under Right to Information Act, 2005;
8.Right against capitation fee or screening procedure & Right to insist on penalty, and duty to fight against, s13;
9.Right against denial of admission for lack of age proof, and duty to fight against s14(2);
10. Right against holding back and expulsion, and duty to fight against s16;
11. Right against physical punishment and mental harassment to child, and duty to fight against s17;
12. Right/Duty to insist that school should have and to show certificate of recognition, s18;
13. Right/Duty to insist on schools to implement norms prescribed, s19;
14. Right/Duty to ensure proper functioning of School Management Committee, and implementation of its resolutions by the school, s21;
15.Right/Duty to secure that every school shall prepare a school development plan, s22;
16. Right/Duty to ensure schools appoint teachers with prescribed qualifications on terms and conditions of service of teachers, prescribed by appropriate authority, s23;
17. Right/Duty to insist on performance of duties of teachers and redressal of grievances, s24;
18.Right/Duty to demand maintenance of teacher pupil ratio, s25 (as three years lapsed);
19.Right/Duty to demand filling up vacancies of teachers, s26;
20.Right/Duty to demand implementation of curriculum and evaluation procedure, s29;
21.Right/Duty to complain to local authority or appellate authority or State Commission, s32;
22.Right/Duty to demand constitution of state commission for independent adjudication of appeals over decision of local authority on grievances, s 32;
23. Right to information about any of above rights under Right to Information Act, 2005 and duty to secure that information and agitate based on that information;
24.Right/duty to see regular Constitution of National Advisory Council, s33;
25. Right/duty to see regular Constitution of State Advisory Council, s34;

Government has specific duties
As per Section 8, the duties of appropriate Government are: (a) provide free and compulsory elementary education to every child; (b) ensure availability of a neighbourhood school as specified in section 6;(c) ensure that the child belonging to weaker section and the child belonging to disadvantaged group are not discriminated against and prevented from pursuing and completing elementary education on any grounds;(d) provide infrastructure including school building, teaching staff and learning equipment;(e) provide special training facility specified in section 4;(f) ensure and monitor admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by every child;(g) ensure good quality elementary education conforming to the standards and norms specified in the Schedule;(h) ensure timely prescribing of curriculum and courses of study for elementary education; and(i) provide training facility for teachers.

Duties of local authority
According to Section 9, every local authority shall: (a) provide free and compulsory elementary education to every child:(b) ensure availability of a neighbourhood school as specified in section 6;(c) ensure that the child belonging to weaker section and the child belonging to disadvantaged group are not discriminated against and prevented from pursuing and completing elementary education on any grounds;(d) maintain records of children up to the age of fourteen years residing within its jurisdiction, in such manner as may be prescribed;(e) ensure and monitor admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by every child residing within its jurisdiction;(f) provide infrastructure including school building, teaching staff and learning material;(g) provide special training facility specified in Section 4;(h) ensure good quality elementary education conforming to the standards and norms specified in the Schedule; (i) ensure timely prescribing of curriculum and courses of study for elementary education;(j) provide training facility for teachers;(k) ensure admission of children of migrant families;(l) monitor functioning of schools within its jurisdiction; and (m) decide the academic calendar.
Responsibility of school is explained in S 12: (1) For the purposes ofthis Act, a school,- shall provide free and compulsory elementary education to such proportion of children admitted therein as its annual recurring aid or grants so received bears to its annual recurring expenses, subject to a minimum of twenty-five per cent.; shall provide free and compulsory elementary education to such proportion of children admitted therein as its annual recurring aid or grants so received bears to its annual recurring expenses, subject to a minimum of twenty-five per cent.; shall admit in class I, to the extent of at least twenty-five per cent of the strength of that class, children belonging to weaker section and disadvantaged group in the neighbourhood and provide free and compulsory elementary education till its completion:

Need for parents association
There shall be a parents association at every level, state, district, division, mandal and village levels, which combine into a state association. All State associations shall come together to Constitute All India Federation of Parents Associations with a sole motto of securing Right to Education. Any parent or teacher or any other person can seek information about the above described 25 rights through an RTI question or representation or in the form of a complaint.

After giving reasonable time, the applicant can file an RTI application seeking ‘action’ taken on his complaint/representation, along with copy of such complaint, from the school, if a public authority, if not, from the society that is running such school, or from Registrar of Societies or from Department of Education of concerned state, or from Municipality or Gram Panchayat.

Parents or students or any persons can use the tool of RTI to know whether state is performing its duties or not. (Based on my address to the Telangana State Parents Association Meet held on 15th October 2016 at Hyderabad)

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