The Right To Education (RTE) Act does not come in the way of home-schooling. Parents can teach their children outside the formal education system, the Centre said in an affidavit filed in the Delhi high court.
The school education department submitted the affidavit dated July 16, in a petition that said the RTE Act equated schooling with education and did not accommodate those who opted for home-schooling. The petition, filed by Shreya Sahai, through her mother, had argued that the Act does not cater to gifted or talented children who leave the schooling system, or those in alternative schools.
The RTE Act, which came into effect on April 1, 2010, makes it mandatory for every child (from six to 14 years) to be enrolled in a formal school. Petitioners argued that individuals had the right to choose their mode of education. “Parents who opt for home-schooling may continue to do so. The Act does not declare such forms of education illegal,” the affidavit said.
The affidavit clarifies that the Act concerns itself with the rights of children, and is not a compulsion. “The compulsion is on the appropriate government and the local authority to provide free education to all children up to 14 years,” the affidavit said.
“This is a good development,” said Matthew Peedikayil, who has been home-schooling his three children for the past seven years.
Not everyone is happy, though. “The Centre’s stand seems contrary to the spirit of the Act and is a retrograde step,” said Ashok Agarwal, an intervener in the matter, who will file his response to the court within a week. “For the first time, the government developed a uniform schooling system, but are now going back to the old one. The Act and Supreme Court judgment say it is the parent’s legal obligation to send their child to school.”
The next hearing of the case is scheduled for August 8.