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Education overhaul soon

The central government has finalised a bill that proposes to fix the minimum age for admission to pre-school at 3 years and 10 months. Chetan Chauhan reports.

delhi Updated: Apr 24, 2008 02:27 IST
Chetan Chauhan

The central government has finalised a bill that proposes to fix the minimum age for admission to pre-school at 3 years and 10 months.

The draft Right To Education Bill, which will be put up for cabinet consideration in May, would also protect parents and children from screening by schools and prescribes huge fines in case of violation.

Prepared by the Human Resource Development Ministry, the bill says the minimum admission age for Class I should be 5 years and 10 months before the beginning of the academic year. This implies the admission age for pre-school would be 3 years and 10 months.

Last year, the Delhi government fixed 3 years as age for admission to pre-school, 4 for pre-primary and 5 for Class I.

The bill, which aims at implementing the Right to Education guaranteed by the Constitution in 2002, shields parents from arbitrary admission rules of private schools. If found subjecting parents or children to screening, the school will be fined Rs 25,000. A repeat offence will invite a fine of up to Rs 50,000. If a school is found guilty of taking capitation fee, the fine will be up to ten times of what it charged.

The school has to follow the laid down procedure for admission at any cost. Any violation that results in a deserving child not getting admission would invite a fine of up to Rs 10,000. This fine can also be imposed on the government servant responsible for implementing the RTE law.

The draft empowers the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights or any other authority designated by the state government to impose the prescribed fines.

At the national level, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights will monitor implementation of the law.

Although education is a state subject, the HRD ministry believes all states would implement the law, as the Centre would only then share their financial burden of implementing the law.

The ministry has estimated that cost of implementing the law till 2015 would be Rs 2,28,000 crore.

The ministry is willing to bear up to 90 per cent cost of implementation of the law if the states commit to bear a cost equivalent to their highest expenditure on elementary education in the past five years. However, the final fund-sharing formula will come from the Planning Commission.

The draft has also framed a set of norms for private schools on teachers' qualification, student-teacher ratio and infrastructure among others. Failure to comply with them could result in the closure of the school.

It strictly prohibits teachers from taking private tuitions but allows their deployment for election duties, conducting Census and for disaster relief.