The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), in a bid to facilitate affordable and quality education, has asked the state education department and the education board to curtail the need of students for amassing books other than the ones prescribed or published by the National Council of Educational Research Training (NCERT).
NCPCR is the monitoring authority of the implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act. The commission has maintained that certain schools were coming out as discriminatory against the students who use the NCERT books exclusively and therefore the students are being forced into buying and carrying other publications on the pretext of “additional syllabus” and “value addition”.
Preeti Verma, a member of the commission, said that the students enrolled in the private schools under the RTE act are being forced to amass and carry additional books and are being discriminated against for using the NCERT texts. The panel that has been receiving several complaints in this regard observed that this practice is burdening the students and the families financially and psychologically. The schools go so far as to instruct students to buy non-NCERT non-SCERT books from certain shops resulting in unaffordability of education.
The fact that the SCERT is the academic authority has been underscored in a letter by the NCPCR to the Govt.
Priyank Kanoongo, chairperson NCPCR, said, “No child shall be harassed by any school for carrying books other than the ones published or prescribed by the academic authority (NCERT or SCERT). If the school fines or takes any action against the child, it may attract (action) under provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.”
To relay this directive to the students, the NCPCR has directed the schools to display the information on their respective websites and the notice boards. Besides this, a copy of the directive has to be circulated among the parents.
Activist Samina Bano said, “The RTE Act’s first task was to bring children to schools, besides providing them quality education.” it was also observed that section 29 of the RTE Act deals with the learning level, curriculum and evaluation procedure in schools. Section 29 also cites various parameters to be applied by the academic authority before prescribing the curriculum and stipulating the assessment procedure.
It is notable that the students enrolled under the RTE Act are slated to get free books and uniforms.
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