Category Archives: RTE News

Save Deepalaya

More absurdities of the Right To Education act

There is an appeal doing the rounds to save Deepalaya – a low budget private school running since 1992 that teaches slum children in Sanjay Colony at very nominal fees. It is not compliant with the Right To Education Act, which makes it a (wait for this) criminal offense to teach children in unrecognized schools. That is right. Teaching children can be a CRIME in the land of free and compulsory education if the school is not recognized.

Save Deepalaya

Save Deepalaya

One would be forgiven for thinking it is a terrible school and is not recognized because it doesn’t meet the standards the government has set for the well being of children. One would even be forgiven for thinking that in a world where being ignorant on politics is a sort of fashion statement.

Yet, for a school that proudly claims 100% results for their third grade students in the Open Basic Exams conducted by NIOS where the topper Roshan of class III scored 94%, Abhishek and Rupa from class V scored 94% each and Alka of Class VIII scored 86% – Is this not the schooling system’s grand dream? Big numbers showing that children are being educated well? This, by schooling standards is a result that should make any education authority grin, but the school is not recognized. It has a student to teacher ratio of 30:1 – which I dare say many government schools don’t meet. Their website proudly boastes of students who went to the US on scholarships and returned to add their efforts to the cause of education.

So why is this school unrecognized? It is not recognized, because it operates on leased land. As per theDelhi School Education Act of 1973 (DSEA), schools that don’t own the title to the land they operate on cannot be recognized. As per the Right To Education Act of 2009, unrecognized schools are illegal. For the life of me I cannot fathom how the ownership of the land on which children learn has anything at all to do with the child’s Right To Learn, yet here are parents doing the “CRIME” of sending their children to school. This school is going to be shut down, which brings us to this completely ironic situation of a homeschooling blog speaking to help protect a school from an act that intends to educate all children whether they want it or not.

Save Deepalaya

Save Deepalaya

They have a petition going at Change.org, which I recommend you sign in solidarity, though I don’t have the foggiest on what that will achieve.

Their demands are indeed extremely sensible and practical and it is a bit embarrassing that this has to be asked for:

  1. Issue an ordinance to exempt schools in slums and villages from the land-title requirement for recognition until the law is amended.
  2. Make recognition criteria in the Delhi School Education Act and rules reasonable for quality low cost private schools to operate in Delhi.

This is one way of doing it. I highly recommend that people alarmed by this absurdity in laws that govern the futures of some of the most precious citizens of India use the election frenzy staring into everyone’s faces in Delhi to make a point to political parties that this kind of absurd lawmaking is not appreciated and that all parties should commit to fixing this if they win, because otherwise they simply are not worth voting for.

There are some signs of Aam Aadmi Party supporters supporting the school’s right to function, but a more concrete comment by official spokespersons will be better. BJP and Congress too should agree to do this if they come to power. There is really nothing about the demands that is objectionable. They are a product of absurd laws creating problems for citizens and utility to no one.

The Save Deepalaya campaign also has a Facebook page which you can like and engage with them to keep an eye on what they need and be ready to help in whatever capacity you can.

Notice issued to parents of school dropouts

In an alarming development that comes under the heels of Delhi High Court terming the wihdrawal of a child from school as a criminal offense and forcing enrollment, parents of non-schooling children in Mysuru district have got legal notices from the Education Department. Parents are already feeling the tightening noose in some cases. H.S. NARASIMHA KUMAR reports in the Hindu (December 7, 2014)

Over 5,921 children have been identified as school dropouts in Mysuru district this academic year

The Education Department has served notices to 699 parents in Mysuru district asking them to send their children to school, failing which cases will be booked against them under the Right to Education Act.

Similarly, the department is planning to send out more such notices in the next few days in a bid to reduce the number of school dropouts in the district.

Over 5,921 children have been identified as school dropouts in Mysuru district in 2014-15, 3,220 boys and 2,701 girls.

Mysuru North stands ranks first in the list of dropouts, followed by Nanjangud (898), Hunsur (771), and H.D. Kote (741).

Mysuru Rural accounts for 673 dropouts, Periyapatna (453), T. Narsipur (452), and K.R. Nagar (297).

Repeated appeals by the Education Department to parents to send back their children to school had failed to yield any result.

The government has made compulsory education for children in aged 6 to 14 and has decided not to fail any student till the ninth grade in a bid to encourage them to pursue education.

The department wonders why there dropouts when the government was providing facilities such as midday meals, milk, textbooks, and learning materials to students.

An informal survey by the department points out that many parents particularly where Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities were residing, were yet to realise the importance of educating their children.

Chandra Patil, deputy project coordinator, Sarva Shikshana Abhiyana, Mysuru district, said the government had appointed attendance authority at the hobli-level.

Mr. Patil said that of the 5,921 dropouts, the Education Department had brought back 2,855 children, including 1,606 boys and 1,249 girls, this year.

He said no parent had the right to deprive their children of basic education and it was every child’s fundamental right.

Withdrawing child from school is a criminal offense – the noose tightens

In an alarming development for alternative schoolers hinging their hopes on the interpreted ambiguity of the RTE Act, the Delhi High Court has today termed the withdraw of a 13 year old girl who was not doing well in school as a “criminal offence” – citing the RTE act which makes it mandatory for children between the ages 6 and 14 to be enrolled in school. The child, who is in the custody of the mother after her separation from her father is noted to be in poor health and has studied only till the second class. The child’s father filed the complaint against the mother for removing the child from school. A health examination has been ordered for the child before the next hearing on the 29th.

While it is indeed possible that the mother was guilty of abuse or neglect, there is no mention of any reasons provided by the mother for the withdrawal of the child from school – legitimate or otherwise.

This is a worrying development for homeschoolers and particularly homeschoolers with divorced or separated parents where the parent without custody could force the end of homeschooling by approaching the court.

What is even more alarming is the complete absence of the interest of the child. A 13 year old child who has studied only till the second class is a clear indication that for whatever reason, school is not proving useful to her. Yet the criminalization of exit from school takes education fascism to a whole new level. The complete absence of the mother’s perspective as well as any comments on potential causes of the lack of performance seem to render them as not significant in making such an assessment. Unfortunately, the largest, most unrepresented, powerless minority anywhere in the world is children. This development essentially turns the education system into a forced process – essentially turning “Right” To Education into imposed education.

There is no indication that the mother has mistreated the child in any manner – an assumption I am making, since I assume that  judge would not leave a child in the custody of an abusive parent. So the “crime” seems to be the exit from school alone. This is ominous and puts homeschooling single parents at tremendous risk and gives potentially abusive ex-spouses a weapon of threat even after legal separation.

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday warned a mother of strict action and termed as a ‘criminal offence’ her withdrawing her child from school.

Justice Manmohan asked the Delhi government to admit the 13-year-old girl child to a school in Green Park area by Sep 22 and also get her medically examined Wednesday.

The woman’s ex-husband had moved the court after she withdrew their child from school.

“It’s a criminal offence to withdraw a child from school. You committed an unpardonable act. I am not taking strict action. But if you withdraw the child again, I will take strict criminal action. I will be monitoring this matter,” the court told the mother.

The court took into note that though the girl was 13 years old, she had only studied till Class 2 and was physically very weak.

The court also sought a status report from the government on the admission and medical examination of the child by Sep 29, the next date of hearing.

The court also said that under the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, it was mandatory for a child between six to 14 years to get education.

Justice Manmohan left it to the discretion of the school principal to admit the girl in an appropriate class and asked to monitor her progress and “to give her extra facilities so that she can adjust in the class”.

The Delhi government was also asked to monitor the case.

Three advocates were also appointed as amicus curiae to assist the court.

Dharmendra Kapoor, father of the girl child, told the court that his ex-wife withdrew their child from the Green Field School and did not send her to any other school.

Kapoor said he had admitted their child in DPS Sushant Lok, Gurgaon, but his ex-wife took their daughter with her, while leaving their home after divorce.

Three more children fall victim to the RTE. Does anyone give a damn?

Sachin Desai and his wife Meenal run “School without walls”. Because it is…. a school without walls, it doesn’t fit the vision the education fascists have of what is good for kids. Apparently, a child shelter is better. My rare visit to Facebook brought this heart breaking stunner.

 

three children forcibly removed from alternative school by Indian authorities

Simo, Sonu and Ankush, three innocent children whose only crime was that their school did not have walls… and does not believe in walls.

Finally today our three little children Simo, Sonu and Ankush were taken away from us by CWC. I have no words to express our feelings. The silence here at Syamantak Schoolwithoutwalls speaks in itself.

When will this authorities realise there is a relation of this children with every single element here…Surabhi and Kaveri our cows, Billu the cat, farm, trees, soil and we the family of School Without Walls.

Children wept..the people who came to take them wept but this thick skin officers have no Dharma – of Humankind. They know law…in Marathi we say Kai (what) dya (u will give)..

Yet our daughter Mrunalini and our student Durga is not aware about this issue as she is in Bhopal. Few days back Mrunalini and Durga made handmade rakhis. Rakhis are sent by post from Bhopal. But when rakhis arrive at Syamantak School Without Walls her brothers won’t be there. Our children will be dumped into some government homes or some boarding.

We want to shout loud to these, bureaucrats, law makers, those candle lighting citizens who protest against the juvenile criminals. Please don’t blame these children if they become hardcore criminals in future. No law will stop this crime.

I and Meenal have lost in this struggle.

Alternative schoolers in India are denied the fundamental right of the child to choice of education. And being mostly laid back people absorbed in child centered activities, they lack the organization or instinct to fight while the education fascists tighten the noose around anyone they cannot assembly line into their idea of learning. It is distressing and the situation is invisible, yet dire, as individual alternative schoolers get picked of for not complying with the absurd RTE.

It is difficult for Sachin’s school to get recognition without serious bribery as things stand. It is difficult for me to understand why children nurtured in love and individualized attention need to be abducted by the state and put into childrens shelters along with the children rounded up off the streets, of necessity living in a mindset of survival without the luxury of morals as they thrive in the ugly underbelly of mankind.

And it is a matter of policy. As in the earlier case of the family of George Verghese running into the compulsory enrollment trap that I had reported on earlier, the problem isn’t the people running the system, it is the policies that hobble them from doing anything but the wrong thing.

Here are more updates:

Today early morning kids called us from the Bal Griha. (child refuge home) They are missing us. Tomorrow all senior students are going to visit them with lot of sweets, art books, and post cards to write letters. We have persuaded them that this is their learning journey. The way Mrunalini and Durga went to Bhopal to study Sanskrit. You are here to learn Marathi. It will take 1-2 months for us to register at Mahila Bal Vikas. Till that time kids will have to stay at Bal-griha. We have extended Mrunalini and Durga’s stay in Bhopal as they are unaware about this confrontation. 

I wonder where we as an Indian community are heading to. It was our culture and teaching to parent and educate deprived child for creating better future. Many individuals, couples, ashrams, have been doing this in past. This Indian culture and perspective will get loss in this license raj and NGO culture. So long as you do not achieve social liberty, whatever freedom is provided by the law is of no avail to you.

What are we having this liberty for? We are having this liberty in order to reform our social system, which is full of inequality, discrimination and other things, which conflict with our fundamental rights.

Political tyranny is nothing compared to the social tyranny and a reformer who defies society is a more courageous man than a politician who defies Government.

History shows that where ethics and economics come in conflict, victory is always with economics. Vested interests have never been known to have willingly divested themselves unless there was sufficient force to compel them.

For a successful revolution it is not enough that there is discontent. What is required is a profound and thorough conviction of the justice, necessity and importance of political and social rights.

[…]

Today Meenal visited the juvenile home. Supervisor of the home is very amazed to see our children’s conduct. These three children stand exceptionally different than other children. They discuss with the staff on how they learn through hands on work at School without Walls, and how they learn to stay in family. 

We are very happy to know all these experience from the supervisor. These children have now started valuing the family tradition. Many such beautiful observations to mention.

Is this the world we want to build? Does a single reader here believe that a juvenile home can do a single thing better for these children than Sachin and Meenal who have made it their life’s work to nurture learning and a larger, inclusive philosophy on life?

I’m glad Rabindranath Tagore is dead and doesn’t have to see India brought to this low.

Where the spirit of the law bows before the letter, you cannot expect the law to bring good.