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Unpacking RTE
" Honorable Minister Mr. Balasaheb Thorat, School Education Department and State Minister Ms. Fauzia Khan, were addressing a gathering of key education officials who had gathered for a state level consu "

Vidya Kulkarni

PUNE, India, 1 May 2010 – “Be involved and think out of box,” that was the earnest appeal by Ministers for School Education to all educators in Maharashtra as the state gears up toward adopting and implementing the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE).

Honorable Minister Mr. Balasaheb Thorat, School Education Department and State Minister Ms. Fauzia Khan, were addressing a gathering of key education officials who had gathered for a state level consultation to deliberate upon RTE with a view to effectively formulate the State Rules under the Act.

The two-day consultation, on 26th and 27th April 2010 in Pune, was organised jointly by State Department of School Education & Sports and Maharashtra Prathamik Shikshan Parishad (MPSP), in collaboration with UNICEF, Maharashtra.

In order to ensure effective implementation Mr. Thorat asked to give priority to out of school children, children from deprived class, children with special need to bring them in the mainstream education.  “Efforts should be made to minimize their inferiority complex and boost their confidence to retain them in the school,” he added. 

Ms. Fauzia Khan called for motivation and strong will of the officers to see the principles laid down by the Act being translated on ground.

The honorable Ministers Mr. Balasaheb Thorat and Ms. Fauziya Khan attended the consultation on the first and second day respectively. Both of them actively participated and interacted with senior educational personnel of the state before presenting their views.

The workshop that involved key stakeholders in the government and administration laid a great emphasis upon unpacking RTE; to understand the legislation in letter and in spirit and to thrash out doubts and queries concerning newly adopted measures under the Act, before embarking upon framing state specific model rules.

Maharashtra is one of the few states who have adopted such a participatory approach in understanding RTE.

Explaining the significance and vision of RTE the key resource person, Dr. Nalini Juneja, Professor, NUEPA, New Delhi, said, “Education has become a ‘Right’ and is no longer a ‘welfare’.  The Government is duty bound to provide as per the Act and complaints can be made to NCPCR / SCPCR.” In her enlightening presentation she introduced Framework of Model Rules as provided by the Central Act and facilitated participants to adapt them to their local needs. 

Ms. Vijaysheila Serdesai, State Project Director, MPSP, played instrumental role in convening this state level workshop. She also shared that similar sensitization workshops would be held at the Divisional Level with all Education Officers and will also involve education experts and NGOs.  

In the context of no detention policy upheld by the Act Mr. A. M. Bedge, Director, MSCERT, presented the need for Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) with a focus on curriculum and teachers training.

Mr. Tejindar Sandhu, Chief UNICEF Maharashtra reiterated UNICEF’s continuous commitment to work with the government and other partners at community, state and national levels to promote child friendly schools and systems across the country through RTE. 

The two-day deliberations touched upon significant aspects in the Act and culminated in developing a road map with action plan to set the process of RTE execution on a right track.

Subsequently several orientation workshops were organized for Education Officers from all districts in the state, who in turn conducted workshops for district level functionaries. Significantly the state government has also taken concrete steps for action and issued guidelines. Five Government Resolutions (GRs) have been recently issued with regard to School admission/ age appropriate enrollment, Pre service training, No detention and achievement levels of children, Data compilation and Norms on un authorized schools. Also draft on ‘Maharashtra Right of Children to free and Compulsory Education Act -2010 ‘ is ready.

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