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India's 90% schools not complying with Right to Education Act, alleges RTE Forum

By Mitra Ranjan*
The Right to Education (RTE) Forum (RTE), along with Campaign against Child Labour (CACL) and the Alliance for the Right to Early Childhood Development, has launched a nationwide campaign on right to education (RTE -- from pre-primary to higher secondary) and abolition of child labour. Addressing media at the Press Club of India, New Delhi, Dr Sayeeda Hamid, former member of Planning Commission of India and Padma Shree, an RTE manifesto, collaboratively developed by the three networks, was also released.
Dr Hamid said, “It is very tragic to see that our priorities have changed. Now education is not figured in the priority list of the governments. Focus has been shifted to trivial controversies. Now the governments want to shun the responsibility of education to private sector.”
Explaining the need and importance of the nationwide campaign, Ambarish Rai, national convener, RTE Forum, said, “As you are aware, 2019 will be a watershed year for India. The upcoming general elections next year will be an appropriate opportunity for the people of this country to demand a commitment from political parties to secure the rights of our children, particularly their education."
Rai added, "In the recent years, we have seen how things have gone from bad to worst in terms of education. If we don’t assert this time and loose this opportunity, the future generation will not forgive us. So, we are morally bound to raise this important issue with full force. It’s shameful that still more than 90% schools are not compliant with RTE norms even after eight years of the enactment of the RTE Act, 2009. ”
Earlier, welcoming the guests and participants, Ashok Kumar, national advocacy convener, CACL, said, “Child labour is a big blot on this country. Without eradicating this menace our country can’t progress further. It is imperative to ban it completely and substantially.”
On this occasion, the three networks presented a charter of demands to ensure complete implementation of the RTE Act, 2009 and extend the purview of RTE Act 2009 from birth to 18 years, asking the government to ensure at least 6 percent budget of the Gross Domestic Peoduct (GDP) for education.
Insising to stop inequality in education and move towards a 'common school system', the network demanded that the government must strengthen school management committees (SMCs) and community participation in education, asking the government to ensure total eradication of child labour up to the age of 18 years.
Seeking concrete steps for universal, quality, and equitable public education in safe and secure environment till 18 years of age from elected peoples' representatives, it wanted a ban on commercialization and privatization of education, even as bringing in a strong regulatory Act to control fee hike and strengthen the accountability of private schools and early childhood care and education (ECCE) centres.
Asking the government not to amend the “no detention policy” provisioned in section 16 of the RTE Act, 2009, the network wanted it to take concrete steps to stop mass closure of government schools in the name of merger and re-open those that have been closed.
Devika Singh of the Alliance for Right to Early Childhood Development, proposed vote of thanks.
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*Coordinator, Media & Research, RTE Forum

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