Experts ask parents to keep tabs on dilution of RTE

April 8, 2013

Schools come up with strange reasons to deny admission

Child rights activists and non-governmental organisations in the City, who came together to observe the third year of Right to Education Act on Sunday, called for keeping a close watch on any dilution of the legislation.


The NGOs including South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), Child Rights Trust (CRT), Radio Active and Sparsha that have jointly constituted an RTE Task Force to monitor the implementation of the Act, held a panel discussion involving beneficiaries of the RTE Act.

Speaking on the occasion, Child Rights Trust director Vasudeva Sharma said the government is still not interested in implementing the provisions of the Act in its full spirit.

“Now that the 25 per cent reservation for children with poor financial background has taken off, we have to closely monitor the implementation for the next eight years till the first batch of students under the provision complete elementary education,” he said.

He pointed out that even though playground is a mandatory specification under the RTE Act for any school seeking recognition, the Union government recently gave a concession to schools in this regard. During October last year, a few private schools approached the Ministry of Human Resources asking them to bail out of this specification as, in urban areas like Bangalore, it is difficult to obtain land for construction of schools.

“The government has obliged and sent out circulars saying that in cases where playgrounds are not available, schools can make use of the municipal grounds in the locality.”

This concession on basic specification for a school indicates a dangerous trend. Schools could also ask for lenience in provision of specific number of teachers, ayahs or toilets. The public must  monitor these issues closely and condemn initiatives detrimental to students’ development, Sharma added.

What is quality?

The government should define in precise terms what “quality of school” is. In a manner similar to how students are tested for progress, teachers too must be evaluated, he opined. 

He stressed that minority institutions too fall under the framework of the Right to Education Act, in spite of being omitted from providing 25 per cent reservation to students from weaker sections.

“Many minority institutions have been misusing this clause to interpret that they need not follow the minimum standards prescribed by the Act,” he explained.

Parents’ woes

On the occasion, parents shared their experiences of enrolling their children in schools under the RTE reservation provision. One of the parents, Indira, who took part in the panel discussion, narrated how the private school in which she had sought admission for her son for LKG in the City denied admission.

The institution said it fell under the minority category and hence was not obliged to provide seats under reservation. “When this was pointed out to the Block Education Officer, it was found that the school was not a minority institution and the management eventually ended up providing as many as 55 seats.”

Another parent, Kumar, said he was shocked to see the poor awareness about RTE in schools. Kumar approached a few schools in the city for admission to his son.

“I came to know about this through newspapers. I did not have a clue about RTE Act before that. To my shock, when I approached one school, the principal did not know what RTE was.”

Further, the school could not provide him application for admission under RTE and the parent was directed to the BEO concerned. At the BEO’s office, Kumar was asked to download it from the department website. “If I was financially sound, tech savvy and had internet connection at home, why would I try to get admission under the reservation quota,” asked Kumar.

Parents also felt that they could ensure that no discrimination was done to their kids at school, if they formed a network.

Source: Deccan Herald; Dated: April 1, 2013


Social Watch report releasing ceremony

August 9, 2012

Arrest of Human Rights Defenders in Bangalore

June 22, 2012

Dear friends, well wishers, colleagues and fellow travellers,

We thank you for the solidarity actions and concerns expressed on the arrest of Mr. Mathews Philip and fellow Human Rights and Child Rights Defenders on 18th June 2012. I think that I should inform you the details of the incident.

SICHREM’s involvement in this case began with a telephone call recieved on the evening of 15th June by Mr. Mathews Philip, Executive Director of SICHREM, from Ms. Emily from San Francisco, the sister of Ms. Suja Jones Mazurier, informing that her sister’s husband had raped his own daughter. She also informed that the police were refusing to take the complaint and not willing to register a case, and sought SICHREM’s help and support. Unfortunately Emily could not give us any more details and told us that she will ask Suja to contact us.

As we waited for the call, the next day’s newspapers reported the case. We hoped that Mr. Pascal Mazurier would be arrested immediately, but  the arrest had not happened even until Sunday. Meanwhile we had authentic information that the delay in the arrest was not just an innocent delay on the part of the police based on the technical matters to do with diplomatic immunity. There were serious efforts going on to whisk him away to France. There were also  efforts going on to claim his children also back to France as they happen to be French citizens. Though the punishment for the same crime in France happens to be harsher, the accused and his friends were confident of organizing a mistrial in France as all the evidences and witnesses are left back in Bangalore.

Therefore, the protest was organised by ‘Campaign Against Child Labour-Karnataka‘ seeking the arrest of Mr. Pascal Mazurier.

On 18th June 2012 at 11.30 am  the protestors comprising activists from human rights and child rights organisations such as of SICHREM,BOSCO,CRT,INSA, APSA, Mobility India, Sparsha and Action Aid assembled in front of the French Consulate General Office, in a very peaceful manner standing on the footpath on the opposite Sidé of the Consulate with no blocking of traffic or creating any hinderance to the public.

There was a letter taken to the High Grounds police station to inform them of the protest. The police refused permission and also refused to accept the letter and just informed Mr.Nagasimha of CRT that they cannot protest.

A large posse of police personell arrived  and around 11.45 AM, the Assistant Commissionner of Police of Sheshadripuram Mr.Soola Bireswara Swamy called on the phone and spoke to Mr. Nagasimha Rao and Mr. Mathews Philip asking the protestors to call off the protest and disperse, Mr. Mathews reasoned it with the ACP that the protest is a peaceful one and would be done only till 1pm and then they would disperse. But the ACP was adamant and would not listen but used abusive language seeking to call off the protest. At this point Mr. Mathews discontinued the conversation.

By 12 noon the police vans were brought and the protesting activists were arrested. They arrested 26 activists including Mr. Mathews Philip, Executive Director of SICHREM, Mr. Lakshapathi, Executive Director of APSA, Ms Sheela Devaraj, Director of APSA and Mr. Nagasimha Rao, Dy Director of CRT. There were seven women among the arrested, one among them was visually challenged, and there were two other phsically challenged activists too.

The police took the arrested activists to the Audugodi Police Training School and were lodged there. They obtained signatures of all the 26 activists on the Police Search Report(PSR) and Personal Bail Bond, but were never informed of the sections under which they were doing so and the sections under which they were being arrested and for what offence .

At 6pm a video grapher was brought and the activists were forced to pronounce their name, father’s name and the age individually before the camera.

The arrested activists were released at 6.30pm.

Now we understand that there is a case registered on the activists in Crime No : 157/2012 under sections 341(Punishment for wrongful restraint),143 (unlawful assembly punishment upto 6months in prison),145 (Joining or continuing in unlawful assembly, knowing it has been commanded to disperse),188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), r/w section 149 (Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) of the Indian Penal Code,1860.

This is what happened on the 18th June 2012.

We are also happy to inform you that Pascal Mazurier has been arrested on 20th Morning by 6.30AM and remanded to judicial custody for 14 days.

Please find the news in different news channels in the links provided below:

In solidarity,

Head of Programs,

General Orientation for HRE teachers

December 2, 2011

General Orientation programme was conducted for HRE Teachers  at United Mission School from 23rd to 25th November 2011. 35 teachers from Bangalore urban, Bangalore rural and from Kolar district participated. Resource Persons were Mr. Mathews Philip, Executive Director, SICHREM, Adv. Manohar, Legal Advisor, SICHREM, Ms. Margaret, State Coordinator, IHRE and Ms. Rashmi from CRT.