ABOUT THE COMMISSION
The historic Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 (RTE Act), that guarantees free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 years of age (Article 21A) passed by the Indian Parliament in August 2009,came into force on April 1st 2010.
This Act makes elementary education a fundamental right of every child between the age of 6 and 14 years.
The RTE Act
Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education, Kerala Rules
The Lida Jacob Commission for Right to Education Act was appointed by the Govt of Kerala in August 2010 to carry out a comprehensive study of the various aspects of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009, also called the RTE Act. The Commission was required to formulate the Rules for implementing this Central legislation in the state of Kerala as also to furnish reports and recommendations for its effective implementation keeping in mind the prevailing circumstances in the state. This Commission which is functioning in its office on the first floor of the Housing Board Office Complex, Thiruvanathapuram started its activities on 6th September 2010.
The Commission studied various reports and documents, especially the following:-
1. The Kerala Education Act 1956 and Kerala Education Rules 1957.
2. Report of the Kerala Education Act and Rules Review Committee (KEAR Committee 2008) chaired by Sri C.P.Nair IAS(Retd), former Chief Secretary to Government of Kerala.
3. The Central Rules on RTE Act, issued in April 2010.
4. Draft RTE Rules prepared by some states viz., Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu.
5. The proposals of the sub-committees constituted by the General Education Department for the implementation of RTE Act.
The First Draft Rules were presented by the Commission to Government on 4-11-2010. Meetings on the Draft Rules were held with Secretary (Gen. Edn), Director of Public Instruction and other Directors of the Education Department and their views were obtained. Meetings were also held with recognized Teachers’ Organizations, and School Managers’ Associations of aided and unaided schools. Besides this, four zonal-level meetings were held to explain the various aspects of the RTE Act and the Draft Rules to the officers of the Education Department from AEO up to Deputy Directors, DIET Principals and faculty and DPO’s of SSA. Public sittings of the Commission were also held at all the four venues. The attendance of the departmental officers was near hundred percent while a large number of members of the public and the media attended the public sittings.
Memoranda containing useful and practical suggestions, observations and recommendations were received from all sections, especially from the educational officers, teachers’ organizations, school managers, parents, members of the public and several non-governmental organizations. All these have been examined in detail and several of the recommendations have been incorporated in the final version of the Rules. These Draft (Final) Rules were presented to the Hon. Minister for Education on 17-12-2010.
A workshop was held on 8-1-2010 to examine the legal aspects of the Act and the Rules under the guidance of a social jurist and senior advocate of the Delhi High Court, Adv. Ashok Agarwal. After incorporating some minor modifications, the final version of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education, Kerala Rules 2010 was handed over to Govt of Kerala on Jan 14th 2011. These Rules have, vide GO (MS).No.13/2011 G. Edn. dt. 27.1.2011 been accepted in principle by Govt and is due for publication in the Official Gazette shortly, thus making the Central Act applicable to the state of Kerala.
The full text of THE RIGHT OF CHILDREN TO FREE AND COMPULSORY EDUCATION, KERALA RULES 2010 can be viewed here.
Important Provisions in the Kerala Rules on RTE Act 2009
Some of the important provisions in the Kerala Rules formulated by this Commission are as below:-
1. Neighborhood school has been defined as a govt or aided school within walking distance of 1 km. in respect of a school having classes from 1 to 5 and 3 kms. in respect of a school having classes from 6 to 8.
2. Elementary education which is defined as education from classes 1 to 8 will be under the jurisdiction of the Assistant Education Officer.
3. The age for admission to class 1 shall be 6 years; however relaxation of 6 months is permissible during a time-frame of two years after which 6 years at the time of admission to Class 1 shall be achieved. All schools should start pre-primary classes so that children between 5 and 6 years would receive early childhood care and education following the national guidelines on this subject. Such pre-primary classes termed as Senior Pre-primary Class, should be held in a child-friendly atmosphere incorporating appropriate inputs of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) under the Social Welfare Department and classes shall be managed by teachers trained in Pre-primary Teacher Training Institutes.
4. Section 21 of the Act requires all schools excluding unaided schools, to constitute a School Management Committee (SMC).
5 Under Rule 8, the Commission has specified that as far as possible, the state should follow the national curriculum and adopt the text books prepared under NCERT guidelines.
6 Emphasis has been given on the education of children with special needs as below:
7 Emotional and psychological counseling and guidance should be made available to all children by engaging qualified persons.
8 The number of working days should be as prescribed as in the Schedule in the Central Act which is 200 working days for classes 1 to 5 and 220 working days for classes 6 to 8. For this it would be necessary to limit the summer vacations to a maximum of 45 days and to work on a few Saturdays also.
9 Malayalam should be taught in all classes from pre-primary and Class 1 upwards. At the same time, the child must be introduced to the English language through songs and stories. NCERT approved books should be used in Classes 1 to 4 where English medium classes has been permitted.
10 Flexibility shall be permitted in the school timings so as to facilitate the required time for co-curricular subjects. This would also be useful to mitigate unsafe traffic conditions.
11 In view of the additional responsibilities of the Assistant Educational Officer (AEO) who will have jurisdiction over elementary education from Classes 1 to 8, Government should enhance and upgrade the manpower and infrastructural facilities in AEO Offices.
12 The local-self government bodies shall be responsible for issuing Birth Certificate for all births within their jurisdiction.
13 Section 18 of the Central Act requires all unaided schools to obtain recognition by filling a self-declaration form as prescribed before the AEO who is to conduct site-inspection of the school before issuing Certificate of Recognition to the school. In cases of lapses or shortcomings in meeting the conditions for recognition, he may withhold recognition and allow time up to 3 years to rectify the defects. The Kerala Rules however provide that schools which have been in existence as on 1-4-2000 and have been presenting their students continuously for the respective Class 10 Board Examinations need not be subjected to site-inspection by the AEO. Such schools would receive Certificate of Recognition based on their self-declaration form. These forms have to be placed in the websites of the AEO so that lapses or shortcomings in fulfilling the conditions of recognition can be brought to the notice of the educational authorities by any member of the public.
14 The National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) has prescribed a pass in Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) for all future appointments of teachers. This Test will be conducted by the academic authority notified by the State Government.
15 The Central Act and the Kerala Rules on the RTE prohibit the following:
Severe penalties are prescribed for violation of the above by any school or person.