The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009, popularly known as Right to Education (RTE) Act and meant for the education of children in the age group 6 to 14 years, envisages establishment and equipping the government elementary schools in the ‘neighborhood school’ format through school mapping, providing age-grade appropriate inclusive education and maintaining a ‘pupil cumulative record’ of the progress of the child based on comprehensive and continuous evaluation.
A neighbourhood school is based on community-based schooling; school mapping and micro-planning or child-level planning.
“For the purpose of determining and for establishing neighbourhood schools, the State government/local authority shall undertake school mapping, and identify all children, including children in remote areas, children with disabilities, children belonging to disadvantaged groups, children belonging to weaker sections and children referred to in section 4, within a period of one year from the appointed date, and every year thereafter,” proclaims the RTE act.
The RET demands that the School Management Committee or local authority shall identify children requiring special training and organise such training. The special school-based training shall be based on specially designed, age appropriate learning material, approved by an academic authority for duration of at least three months which may be extended, based on periodical assessment of learning progress, for a maximum period not exceeding two years.
Thereafter, the child shall, upon induction into the age appropriate class, after special training, continue to receive special attention by the teacher to enable him/her to successfully integrate with the rest of the class, academically and emotionally.
Regarding inclusive education and school facilities, the RTE act says that the Government and the Local Authority shall ensure that a child belonging to a weaker section and a child belonging to disadvantaged group is not segregated or discriminated against in the classroom, during mid day meals, in the play grounds, in the use of common drinking water and toilet facilities, and in the cleaning of toilets or classrooms.
On the basis of the provisions of the RTE Act, various role actors are meant to develop rules, regulations, responsibilities or code of conduct and roles to extend the rights due to elementary school children justifiably. I think that both the government elementary school teachers and school management committees must transact seriously the document of the government regarding RTE Act and work out the school-level plans in the light of the provisions of the Act.
And, this is what a neighbourhood school in a true sense envisages. There is a need to couple school mapping with micro-planning at individual school level if the RTE Act is be translated into action in its true spirit.
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