Kids from all categories to benefit from RTE: Government Resolution

Jun 07, 2018, 11:00 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

The state government had earlier modified RTE Act to exclude those whose parents' income was above Rs 1 lakh per annum

Advocate Rajeshwar Panchal whose PIL forced govt to change RTE rules
Advocate Rajeshwar Panchal whose PIL forced govt to change RTE rules

In a noteworthy move, the state education department has released a notification stating that under the Right To Education Act (RTE), all children falling in the OBC/NT/DNT/VJNT/SBC categories will be entitled for free school education. The state government, till date, had extended the benefit under RTE only to SC/ST students and others whose parents' salary was below Rs 1 lakh per annum. The move comes after a PIL was filed in the Bombay High Court, and the court directed the state to pass such an order. Interestingly, the Government Resolution (GR) also directs that children affected with HIV must be accepted in schools with regular students under the RTE quota.

All required online submission changes and new implementations are being done at present, with modifications made to the old system. The petitioner, Advocate Rajeshwar Panchal, who filed the PIL, said, "It is unfortunate that the state education department has come up with this notification now. Had it been done before the summer vacation or before the academic year had ended, thousands of students would have been benefited in the 2018-2019 academic year. Nevertheless, the GR will be applicable to all regional and English medium schools in the state."

Panchal said it was astonishing that the state government had made its own changes to the RTE Act mandate, wherein instead of giving equal rights to education to children from all reserved categories, benefit was given only to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes, children with disabilities and children from Other Backward Classes (OBC). And, it was made applicable only to those children whose parents' income was below Rs 1 lakh per annum. Those who earned more under the OBC category were denied this benefit. It was this grave discrepancy that compelled Panchal to file the PIL in 2016.

Finally, a division bench comprising Justice G S Kulkarni and Justice Naresh Patil directed the state to make necessary changes. Adhering to the directions from Bombay High Court, Santosh Gaikwad, Additional Secretary (Education department) issued a four-page government resolution on May 17 (copy with this paper) addressed to all education departments/offices which supervise the functioning of private, civic-run, government-aided schools across the state for implementation of the order.

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The RTE Act
India, in 2010, became one of 135 countries to make education a fundamental right of every child. The RTE Act, apart from making education a fundamental right of every child between the ages of six and 14, specifies minimum norms in elementary schools. It requires all private schools to reserve 25% of seats for children from poor families (to be reimbursed by the state as part of the public-private partnership plan). The Act also provides that no child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until the completion of elementary education. There is also a provision for special training of school dropouts to bring them on a par with students of the same age. The RTE act requires schools to identify children in their neighbourhoods requiring education, and set up facilities for providing it.

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