To overcome the low level of awareness about the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 — guaranteeing free and compulsory education to all children between the age of 6 and 14 — the Centre has decided to display its main provisions on the walls of all government school buildings.
Speaking at a function here to mark the completion of one year of implementation of the Act, Kiran Bhatty, National Coordinator, RTE, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) said the ‘writings on the wall' will list the basic entitlements for children under the RTE Act and the proposal has been accepted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD).
The Ministry of Panchyati Raj has also agreed to designate a day for special Gram Sabhas on Right to Education, where information regarding the Act would be disseminated. The Ministry has already asked the State Panchayati Raj Departments to hold special gram sabhas on children's entitlements under the law, Ms. Bhatty said.
"Awareness about the Act continues to be extremely low, especially at the levels below the State capitals. While people are not aware at all, teachers and head teachers have only rudimentary information,'' she pointed out. The Commission is in the process of designing a template for the wall writings.
Shantha Sinha, chairperson of the NCPCR called for the creation of a well-defined grievance redressal mechanism to address complaints. While the government has harmonised the RTE and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, there is a need to harmonise various other departments and Ministries to make the implementation of the RTE more effective, she said.
Drawing attention to some laws that were violative of the Act, Ms. Sinha said Prohibition of Child Labour Act, Juvenile Justice Act and some other laws, which prevent children from going to school, need to be amended and harmonised with the RTE Act.
She also called for changes in the books, examination and assessment for children with disabilities to make education inclusive and stressed the need for decentralisation that would also help in grievance redressal at the local level. Ms. Sinha expressed unhappiness over the delay in notifying rules by many States.
The NCPCR has already created a system for people's participation in the effective implementation of the Act by appointing State representatives who initiate a dialogue between civil society networks and the governments, and act as the eyes and ears of the child rights panel. It is working with the school management committees as the basic monitoring unit, conducting public hearings and initiating social audits of RTE.