On the very day the central government notified new rules diluting the Right To Information Act (RTI Act), the HRD ministry decided to make the ironical decision of telling school children that the transparency law was an effective tool for fighting corruption and effecting good governance.
The National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) has decided to print an RTI message in textbooks for classes from VI to VIII, stating that the law combats corruption and "promotes transparency and accountability" in the government machinery.
The message - to be displayed on the inner side of textbook back covers - is expected to reach nearly one crore students in 2012.Besides creating awareness, the initiative will encourage children to use the tool for seeking information from the government. "You can seek necessary information about various activities of the government through an RTI application," the message reads, before detailing the information-seeking process.
Schoolchildren, however, are no strangers to the RTI Act.
They have used the tool to gain access to their answer sheets, and even seek information on facilities available to them. Aishwarya Parashar, a class VI student from City Montessori School, Lucknow, made headlines when her RTI application revealed that the government had not notified Mahatma Gandhi as the Father of the Nation.
The message tells students that the RTI application can be filed on plain paper, even though several government ministries have prescribed a particular format for using it. The application can be sent from a post office too, it adds.