Draft seeks to overhaul and expand purview of RTE Act

Draft seeks to overhaul and expand purview of RTE Act

PUNE: With an aim to get more children under the scope of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE), the recently released draft of the National Education Policy has recommended the inclusion of a wider age group under the RTE Act.

While the Act presently covers the children in the age group of six to 14 years, the new draft has proposed the expansion of this group to include children aged between three and 18 years.

“Education starts from pre-primary itself. Hence, the inclusion of classes from pre-primary to higher secondary will certainly include a lot more children in the purview of RTE Act,” said Advocate Anubha Sahai of India Wide Parents Association. She stated that with a focus on the quality of education and teachers, and inclusive nature, the new draft would help streamline the education system in the country. 

The drafting committee has recommended a ‘5+3+3+4’ curricular and pedagogical structure in place of the current ‘10+2’ based on cognitive and socio-emotional developmental stages of children: Foundational Stage (age three-eight years): three years of pre-primary plus Grades I-II; Preparatory Stage (eight-11 years): Grades III-V; Middle Stage (11-14 years): Grades VI-VII; and Secondary Stage (14-18 years): Grades IX-XII.

“This has been our demand for quite some time now. We are now glad that it has finally been taken into account,” said Manish Shroff from an NGO called New Vision that works for the rights of children.

“It is very important to make education free for children until they turn 18 to eradicate child labour. We cannot let the children get out of the education system after 14 years. Similarly, early childcare is the right of every child. Hence, it is necessary that all children are brought into the mainstream since their early age itself,” he added.

The activists have also asserted that this will reduce the number of adolescent out-of-school children. “Many schools have been known to either detain or expel the children when they reach Class IX to maintain the Class X results of the schools. The inclusion of higher classes under RTE will put a full stop to this,” Sahai said.

“While many schools in Maharashtra have relaxed RTE Act norms to include pre-primary children as well, many states have not done so. The cost of pre-primary education is not regulated and thus, is quite high. This will be streamlined under the new policy. If the draft is properly enforced, it will also bring more children under the Early Childhood Care (ECC) as the parents will be able to admit their children to schools under the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota,” she added.

Shroff also added that the NGOs in the State will soon be meeting to make some more recommendations to the drafting committee and the government.

“We like many of the provisions and will also be studying the 5+3+3+4 system, and then give our suggestions on the same,” Shroff added.

- The committee has proposed to rename MHRD as Ministry of Education (MoE). Also, the formation of a National Education Commission under the Prime Minister has been recommended.
- While the State government recently began implementation of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy in school education, a major reconfiguration of curricular and pedagogical structure with Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) as an integral part of school education is proposed.
- While the committee has recommended a 5+3+3+4 curricular and pedagogical structure, it has proposed that the schools will be reorganised into school complexes.
- It also seeks to reduce the content load in the school education curriculum.
- While the National Council of Educational and Research Training (NCERT) has recently recommended integration of arts and sports in school curriculum for the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), the new draft also stated that there will be no hard separation of learning areas in terms of curricular, co-curricular or extracurricular areas and all subjects, including arts, music, crafts, sports, yoga, community service, etc, will be curricular.
- The committee has asserted that the four-year integrated stage-specific BEd. The programme will eventually be the minimum degree qualification for teachers. 
- In higher education, a restructuring of higher education institutions with three types of higher education institutions is proposed: Type 1: Focused on world-class research and high-quality teaching; Type 2: Focused on high-quality teaching across disciplines with significant contribution to research; and Type 3: High-quality teaching focused on undergraduate education. 

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