In addition to the half page feature on homeschoolers in India in today’s Times of India Pune edition, there is an important legal article too on the front page titled – RTE: Homeschooling too is fine, says Sibal
Here is what it says –
RTE: Homeschooling too is fine, says Sibal
But States Must Ensure Education For All: Minister
Neha Madaan | TNN Pune
Homeschooling parents can continue to educate their children at home now that HRD minister Kapil Sibal has clarified the ministry’s stance.“The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 wants every child to be in school,but if somebody decides not to send his/her children to school, we are not going to interfere. The compulsion is on the state, not on the parents. Parents are free not to send their children to school, but teach them at home. We cannot be micromanaging,” Sibal told TOI on Tuesday.
The Act stipulates eight years of formal education for all children between 6 and 14 years of age. Homeschooling parents believe in individual skills and want to nurture them in their children at home rather than in schools. The Act, outlining the duties of the parents,says,“It shall be the duty of every parent or guardian to admit or cause to be admitted his or her child or ward, as the case may be,to an elementary education in the neighbourhood school.”
The 25-odd city-based homeschooling families and scores from other cities have been looking at the implications of the Act and seeking clarifications over whether it is a punishable offence. Educational expert Alok Mathur said homeschooling is not punishable under the Act. Mathur, the director of teachers’ education at Rishi Valley school in Andhra Pradesh, which imparts alternative education, was part of a group which met Sibal a few weeks ago in Delhi. The meeting was initiated on behalf of a Delhi-based homeschooling parent. “I accompanied him for the meeting since a group supporting alternative schooling had sent a letter to the minister along with the homeschooling petition. I was among the signatories,” said Mathur. According to him, the minister, at the meeting, had said that the purpose behind the Act is to make it obligatory for the government to provide reasonable quality education to all sections of society, especially the poorest and deprived sections. In the minister’s view, if parents wished to and had the means, they can homeschool their children.
A Delhi high court division bench in April 2010 heard a PIL which said that the Act infringes on the freedom of parents and should be amended for homeschooling. The petition was dismissed, but the bench asked the petitioners to make a representation to the HRD ministry seeking its views on homeschooling. The homeschoolers group’s letter to Sibal asked him to accommodate homeschooling in the RTE Act or clarify its stand on homeschooling and alternative education. At the meeting, according to Mathur, Sibal had said that he did not feel that the government should enact or provide any special provision to cater to the specific needs of ‘gifted and talented’ children. “The minister associated these children with the betteroff sections of society who are already empowered to provide specifically desired education for their own children in the manner they wish to,” Mathur said. Nyla Coelho, coordinator for the Goa-based Taleemnet, a facility to support meaningful and alternative education, said, “The Act is more about giving the masses a chance to literacy. The government would not intervene if parents wish to homeschool their children. I have wanted to convey this to the parents of homeschoolers in Pune to allay their doubts about the Act.”
Great news, I guess. But what about NIOS ? Still to wait for updates I guess? Would love to have your views on the above article and related legal matters of homeschooling in India in comments.
(on a related note see collection of legal articles)