Right to Education
The Commission has extensively invoked the Right to Education Act, 2009, while dealing with thousands of cases of children in Delhi ranging from denial of education to lack of infrastructural facilities in the schools. Proactive approach of the Commission has resulted in flow of cases of large number of children (about 12000 children till 31st March, 2011), dividing these cases in various categories. Following are some of those categories:
A schedule for issuing registration forms for admission of children belonging to EWS category was notified by the Govt. of NCT of Delhi which was given wide publicity. A number of complaints were received by this Commission alleging that some schools were not issuing registration forms for admission to children belonging to EWS category. Consequent upon receipt of such complaints, notices were issued to these schools after which registration forms were issued. It was ensured that registration forms to such children were issued free of cost and a schedule for draw of lots was notified.
After obtaining registration forms from parents belonging to EWS category for admission of their wards, the Public Schools were supposed to conduct a draw of lots on a particular date and time which was to be conveyed to the parents. The Commission received a number of complaints alleging that parents were not invited to witness the draw of lots. Taking cognizance of the matter notices have been issued against such schools and appropriate action shall be taken if such allegations are found true.
Despite the directions from the Directorate of Education and orders of Hon’ble Delhi High Court, it has not been possible to rule out the incidence of corporal punishment to children in schools. Under Section 17(1) of Right to Education Act, 2009, it has been clearly mentioned that no child shall be subjected to physical punishment or mental harassment. Despite clear directions on the subject from all quarters, a number of complaints have been received in this Commission regarding corporal punishment and mental harassment to children in school. Notices to the defaulting schools were issued by this Commission after which disciplinary proceedings have been started against the erring teachers and other functionaries of school.
Among many complaints received in this Commission, it has been alleged that children in some Govt schools do not have access to basic amenities like usable toilets, safe drinking water, sufficient accommodation to hold classes, safe structures and furniture for children etc. The Commission took suo-moto cognizance of several matters reported in print media as well as the complaints received and notices were issued to the concerned Govt/MCD schools. It is being ensured that MCD and the Director of Education take necessary steps to provide basic amenities in their schools. It is also being ensured that security and safety of children is not compromised in any manner in such schools.
TUnder Section 13(1) of RTE Act, 2009, it has been provided that no school or person while admitting a child subject the child or his/her parents or guardian to any screening procedure. It has been further provided that subjecting a child to screening procedure shall be punishable with fine which may extent to Rs. 25000 for the first contravention and Rs. 50,000 for each subsequent contravention. Though the Directorate of Education has issued clear cut directions to all unaided public recognized schools on the subject, the incidence of conducting an admission test for children by a public school in Delhi was brought to the notice of the Commission. A notice was served upon the concerned school and it was forced to scrap its plan of conducting an admission test. The concerned school was forced to insert information regarding cancellation of the proposed test to this fact in a national daily.
As per a notification issued by the Govt. of NCT of Delhi, children with special needs are to be given the benefit of freeship in public schools under EWS category. In a number of complaints reported to this Commission children with special needs were not being considered for award of freeship under EWS category as per Section 12(1)(c) of RTE Act, 2009. This benefit was denied to a nine years old boy who is 60% handicapped suffering from Cerebral Palsy with Spastic Quadric paresis with Mental Retardation by a reputed school in Ashok Vihar Area. After the intervention of the Commission, the benefit of freeship has been granted to the aggrieved child.
Under section 12(1) (c) of RTE Act, 2009, it has been provided that schools specified in sub-clauses (iii) and (iv) of clause (n) of section 2 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 neighborhood and provide free and compulsory elementary education till its completion. The implementation of the above said provision would bring sea changes in the educational scenario in schools since children belonging to disadvantaged group and economically weaker section shall be studying together in the same class where children belonging to high social strata/ economic status are seated. Schools shall be required to strike a balance between the children belonging to two different/ divergent groups. DCPCR has taken up an exercise of getting feedback from public schools regarding the problems faced/ visualized by them in the implementation of the this provision. After analyzing the feedback received from such schools, an induction program shall be organized/ recommended for all recognized public school in Delhi with a view to sensitize them about the issues encountered by them.
The DCPCR took cognizance of an advertisement captioned “Admission Notice” which appeared in the Hindustan Times dated 28.03.2010 wherein it was indicated that an entrance test was proposed to be conducted for admission in class 6 in Rajkiya Prathiba Vikas Vidyalaya during the session 2010-11. The Commission prima facie found the aforesaid advertisement in violation of Section 13 of the RTE Act, 2009 and other provisions of the same. On 05.04.2010, the Commission issued a notice to Directorate of Education, GNCT of Delhi and Dy. Director Education, RPVV, GNCTD, Delhi mentioning therein the provisions of Section 31 & 32 of the RTE Act, read with the provisions of Section 13 and Section 2 (o) of the aforesaid Act. In the reply to the aforesaid notice, it was stated that there are 19 special category schools in the name of RPVV and the selection of students for these schools is not an infringement of their Fundamental Right to Education. It was also mentioned that an amount of Rs. 25/- was charged as registration fees to meet out the expenditure incurred in conducting the test and that was not any kind of fees for the education of a child.
A meeting of the full Commission discussed the matter threadbare and recommended a fine of Rs. 25000/- to the Director Education, GNCT of Delhi, invoking the provision of Section 13(2) of the RTE Act, 2009. Since charging the process of entrance test has been found in violation of section 13(1) of the RTE Act, 2009, no such examination be held henceforth by the Directorate of Education for admission in class VI in RPVV schools. Since charging of Rs. 25/- towards the cost of application has also been found to be in violation of provisions of section 3(2) of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 the Directorate of Education, GNCTD should not charge any such fee directly or indirectly from the children pursuing their elementary education in future. This Commission has taken the aforesaid duly considered stand keeping in view the fact that the examination in question was held for the first time. It was also decided that children who have already been admitted in RPVV schools should be allowed to continue with their studies. The stand taken by DCPCR has been contested by the Directorate of Education, GNCT of Delhi by filing a Writ Petition before Hon’ble Delhi High Court where the matter is being heard.
The Commission took cognizance of the order issued by the Department of Education, Govt. of NCT of Delhi containing the guidelines for admissions in pre-primary and Class I for the session 2011-12. After having examined and deliberated over the matter, the Commission issued a notice to the Principal Secretary, Education, Govt. of NCT of Delhi to re-examine the order on top priority basis since prima-facie the said order violated the RTE Act. The Commission also sent a copy of the notice to the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Delhi High Court for the information.
The notice reads: “The order containing the guidelines regarding the admission of children in pre-primary classes and class I in unaided schools and schools in the specified categories may be re-examined on top priority basis…”
DCPCR also sent a notice to Ministry of HRD, Govt. of India (MHRD) for issuing guidelines which were not in accordance with the Right to Education Act. Pointing towards the interpretations of guidelines issued by the MHRD, the Commission noted that “in stead of reproducing the guidelines issued u/s 35(1) of the RTE Act 2009 under which the Central Government is empowered to direct the appropriate Govt./local authority (Govt. of NCT of Delhi/MCD etc. in this case) for the purposes of implementation of the ….. Act, the Govt. of NCT of Delhi has given its own interpretations and made obvious changes that directly contravene the provisions of the Act which strictly prohibit any screening procedure….”
The DCPCR was of opinion that whereas both the guidelines issued by the Ministry of HRD, Govt. of India and the Govt. of NCT of Delhi were in conformity with the act in so far as they apply random selection criteria to 25 per cent seats for children from economically weaker section, the said order clearly violated the provisions of RTE wherein it dealt with remaining 75 per cent seats in respect of un-aided and specified category schools.
As per the guidelines issued by the MHRD, under section 12(1)(C) in respect of unaided and specified schools and for all seats of aided schools, the schools were directed to formulate a policy under which admissions were to take place.
As regard to liberty given to schools to formulate their respective admission policy, the Commission was of the view that this liberty would be tantamount to “govt…not having any control over the admission policies of the respective schools” as there was no mention of the date by which they are supposed to submit the policy to the Directorate of Education.
Similarly, the Commission was of the view that the mention of ‘unique background, ethos and objectives of the schools in Delhi’ in the order of Govt. of NCT of Delhi would create “the categorizations of the applicants on the same basis that can include siblings, transfer case, single parent and Alumni, which is nothing but introduction of the so called Point System…”
The Commission, having dealt with a large number of cases of denial of admissions to the children has found the Point System, as applied in some of the schools, highly discriminatory, both prior and subsequent to the enforcement of RTE Act 2009. For example, in the cases related to DPS, Vasant Vihar and DPS, East of Kailash, the Point System was found to be “heavily loaded” in favour of the siblings (25 points), Civil and allied Services/Armed Forces/Govt. Services (20 points), alumni father (10 points), alumni mother (10 points), whereas for a girl child only 5 points and for children in special need only 5 points were assigned. Similarly, while for sibling 25 points were given, the highest points for neighbourhood (for 0 to 0.5 km) were only 20.
In this matter, the DCPCR also took cognizance of various media reports and that quotes attributed to Hon’ble Minister of Education, Govt. of NCT of Delhi. From the statements, it was clear that multiple criteria have been introduced for schools admissions which would create preferences for certain types of categories of children over other category of children which would be clear violation of provisions of RTE act.
Subsequent to this notice, DCPCR has moved a writ petition before Hon’ble Delhi High Court to direct the Delhi Govt. to amend the guidelines in accordance with the Right to Education Act.