Tuesday, 28 May 2013



MADURAI, May 21, 2013

Advantages and disadvantages of RTE Act



No end to doubts raised and clarifications provided with respect to the Act even after three years

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009 stipulates that private schools reserve 25 per cent of seats at the entry level for children belonging to ‘disadvantaged groups’ and ‘weaker sections’.

The Central Act originally defined a ‘child belonging to a disadvantaged group’ as one belonging to a Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, socially and educationally backward class or such other group facing disadvantage owing to social, cultural, economic, geographical, linguistic, gender or other similar factors.

Mentally and physically challenged children, entitled to free education in special schools, were included in the definition through an amendment last year.

Meantime, the State government issued an order on November 8, 2011 which expanded the definition, specific to Tamil Nadu, to include orphans, HIV-affected children, transgender and children of scavengers. The G.O. also defined a ‘child belonging to weaker section’ to mean one whose parents or guardians earned less than Rs. 2 lakh a year.

But is the RTE Act working in practice?

M. Kochadai Muthiah, who earns a living by ironing clothes at Moovendar Nagar here, says that neither his daughter nor his son benefit from the RTE Act. His daughter is moving to Standard IX this year and, therefore, not eligible for any benefit under the Act that is applicable to elementary education. She attends a government aided Tamil medium school and he spends around Rs. 3,000 a year on her education.

"My son, studying in a private English medium school, has been promoted to Standard III this year. I enquired about claiming benefits under the RTE Act. But they said reservation was available only in LKG. In any case, my son cannot claim a right to be admitted under the RTE in the same school because it is beyond three kilometres from my residence. This Act is of no use to me and I continue to pay a fee of Rs. 500 every month for my son," he adds.

Premalatha Panneerselvam, Senior Principal of Mahatma Group of Schools here, points out that though almost all private schools in the district have agreed to reserve 25 per cent of seats at the entry level, the response from people has been lukewarm. She pointed out that only four to six students got admission under the RTE in each of the four schools administered by her.

Lack of awareness

"Lack of awareness about the Act, inability to meet the distance criteria and difficulty in obtaining necessary certificates from government authorities could be some of the reasons for the poor response. Only when the number of RTE applications exceeds the number of seats reserved in a school, do we go for random selection by picking lots. But this year, there was no necessity for it at all," she points out.

But Chief Educational Officer (CEO) C. Amuthavalli says that the government is serious about ensuring 25 per cent reservation at the entry level in all private schools from this year. "Though the Act came into force in April 2010, we did not act against schools which failed to reserve seats in the previous years because there were many issues that required clarification," she points out.

Though the Act does not speak of penal action against private schools if they fail to reserve the requisite seats, the CEO says steps would be taken to withdraw recognition to offending schools. A total of 204 private schools, including those offering the CBSE and ICSE syllabi, in the district have been asked to reserve the seats, conduct admissions and submit a compliance report to the education department by the end of this month.

On the other hand, an office-bearer of an association of private schools, who prefers to remain anonymous, feels that the government is forcing private schools to reserve seats without making sufficient financial allocation. As per Section 12 (2) of the RTE Act, the government should reimburse the expenditure incurred by private schools for admitting students free of cost.

"A G.O. issued on November 15, 2011 states that the reimbursement shall be at the rate of expenditure incurred for a student in a government school or the fee fixed by a committee constituted under the Tamil Nadu Schools (Regulation of Collection of Fee) Act 2009, whichever is less. But many schools in Usilampatti area are yet to receive reimbursement for admissions made by them under RTE last year.


"We represented the matter to the officials concerned on many occasions. But the standard reply we received was that they would look into the matter. In such a situation, how could the government force us to admit students without clarity on reimbursements? Moreover, the Act is evolving day by day due to court judgements and ceaseless instructions issued by the HRD Ministry," he notes.

Private unaided schools run by religious and linguistic minorities in the State have been exempted from the purview of the Act.

Apart from the obligation imposed on private schools to reserve 25 per cent of seats, the Act requires the State government as well as local bodies to make sure that every child between 6 and 14 years of age is admitted in a class appropriate to his age (in order to avoid embarrassment) and provided with special training to cope. Section 10 of the Act states that parents are duty-bound to ensure that their children pursue elementary education.

Further, Section 28 asserts that no teacher should engage in private tuition or private teaching activity and Section 21 mandates the State government, local bodies and government aided private schools to constitute School Management Committees (SMCs) consisting of representatives of the local authority, parents or guardians of children admitted in such schools, and others, for performing various duties.

"The SMCs are supposed to ensure enrolment and continued attendance of all children from the neighbourhood of the school. But these obligations remain only on paper as we continue to see children either begging on the roads or involved in child labour.

The government is failing to perform its duty and trying to hide its shortcomings by focusing only on private schools," the office-bearer said.

There does not seem to be an end to the doubts raised and clarifications provided with respect to the Act even after three years.

The recent clarification provided by the Department of School Education and Literacy under the HRD Ministry is that reservations under RTE in residential schools would apply only to day scholars and the Act would not apply to Madhrasas and Vedic Patshalas.

Educationists point out that the distance criteria contained in the Act is problematic. The HRD Ministry has sought to clarify the reference to “neighbourhood schools”.

But this is at variance with the interpretation of the Tamil Nadu government, which defines neighbourhood to mean a distance of one kilometre from a primary child’s residence and three kilometres in the case of an upper primary child.

The State government has tinkered with the Act in other respects as well, but with little benefit to disadvantaged children.

For all its flaws, the RTE Act is a progressive piece of legislation that aims to take education to the masses and fill the gaps in the social system.




Children's Consultation on  RIGHT TO PLAY

Delhi Child Rights Club, initiated by Butterflies organized a second consultation of children on Right to Play. The consultation provided a forum for children to discuss problems and issues preventing them from playing in their localities. The meeting was attended by about 50 child members of DCRC, concerned Parents and Children from Sheikh Sarai (DDA Residential Colony – South Delhi).
Ms. Rita Panicker, Founder Director – Butterflies welcome the participants and set the tone for the day. The introductory note by her highlighted the challenges faced by children while playing and ways in which a forum such as DCRC can help them in sharing their concerns and finding solutions. She spoke of the positive efforts being put by the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs in opening up school playgrounds to neighborhood children. She also spoke about the ill effects of not playing and was critical of Play being driven by market forces and technology. Play today is no longer simple recreation, traditional sports which are cost effective and build skills in children are obsolete and have been replaced by technology based games which are most often very expensive and violent.
This was followed by Mr. KK Tripathy giving a brief presentation on role played by DCRC in initiating and supporting Children‘s campaign on Right to Play.

To create a lively atmosphere, Mr. Rahul, sports teacher at Butterflies conducted energizers with children. They were then divided into 5 groups and which were named as– Cricket, Football, Chess, Tennis and Hockey. Children in the groups took responsibility to moderate the discussion and document the challenges on the chart paper. They started discussing the hurdles surrounding their right to Play. The discussion in the groups captured different shades of human emotions - sadness, anger, emotional sentiments, logic, humble plea with subtle overtones of gender and age.

The key highlights of the presentation are mentioned below:

a. Limited access to the park because of inadequate infrastructure and corrupted intentions of people around them.
· Infrastructure: Most of the children expressed the absence of a ground to play near their house.
· In Sanjay colony, Okhla Mandi and Madan Khadar there are no play grounds.
· In Govindpuri area, there is lack of equipments in the park which prevents the children from playing.
· In the park located in Shiek Sarai there is no grass.
· Children shared that Bawana Dairy has no access to playgrounds.
· In Okhla Phase 2, there is no park and children have to visit the jungle area to play amidst green surroundings. Scared of the wild    animals it affects their spirit to play in the open spaces.
·  In GTB campus- playground has to be booked by doing payment in cash.
·  In some areas the closest park is located at a distance of 3 km from home. In Paharganj area there are no parks in the neighbourhood.      Children have to board the bus to reach playgrounds but the buses on this route have poor frequency and affect their ability to access it.
·  In Kali Basti, slums have emerged in parks meant for children to play.
b. Unwillingness of people to share the park with We feeling:
·  People in residential colonies of Kashmere Gate- DDA flats and Dwarka Sector 16 do not allow community children to play in their park.
·  In Madan Pur Khadar, spaces identified as Parks by children are converted into temples and dust bins by the resident dwellers.
·  In Palam Vihar, Sector 1, elder children bully the younger ones which stop them from playing in the park.
·  One of the parks gate has been permanently closed in Sheikh Sarai making it difficult for children to enter it.
·  Park in Bawana- JJ Colony is used for dumping garbage and defecation thus polluting the environment of the park. Adults from the colony gamble in the park and do not entertain children to play there.
·  Children shared that in Kashmere Gate women in the neighbourhood are do not allow children to play in the park and snatch away their play material.
·   Guards do not permit children to play inside the park in Chandni Chowk.
·   Water from gutters flows in the park in Palam Sector-1 area averting children from playing.
·   In Palam Vihar people are more concerned about animals and leave them to graze in the park but restrict children to enter it. They even adopt harmful means to keep them out, scaring children by leaving live electricity wires on wet ground.
·   Parks are given for marriages and children are communicated that community children from parks cannot use it.
·  In Dwarka Sector 16 parks are utilized as parking ground to park vehicles. Secondly animal grazing is encouraged to prevent children from playing inside the park.
· Younger children are disheartened when they have to compete with children who are much older to them to participate in the tournaments.

c. Other significant deterrents

·  Eve teasing and police do not permit them to play thinking something illegal or illicit is happening.
·  In Jehangir colony industries are being developed and constructed and the spaces for playing are getting reduced.
·  In Bawana there is no security for children, there have been instances of children being kidnapped
·  In Sheikh Sarai beautification of the parks prevent the children from playing freely inside it.

dLimited  provisioning in schools to play sports
·  Absence of sports teachers in Govt schools in Bawana
·  There is no organised sports program in government schools.

At the end of the consultation a home work was given to the children. They were requested to collect following information from their locality: - 
1.  Facilities:  do you have facilities for play (play grounds & play materials) available in your locality?
2.  Accessibility: do you have access to the play grounds/parks for play activities in your locality?
3.  Facilities for play in the Schools:
-In your school do you have play ground?
-In your school do you have sports teacher?
-In your school do you get time (sports period) to play?

4.  Role of Resident Welfare Associations (RWA's): do Residents Welfare Associations (RWAs) in your area allow children to play in the parks maintained by RWA’s, if not then what reason they give for not allowing children to play there?

5.  Impact of sports minister’s order:   Do you know that Mr. Ajay Makan, Minister of Sports and youth affairs (government of India) has given orders to the schools that schools should open their play grounds for unprivileged children to play after school hours:
If yes then:
-is this order has any positive effects in your locality?
-Are schools allowing unprivileged children to play in the school ground after school hours?
Decisions taken by the DCRC members

It was decided by Members of DCRC to seek an appointment with the incumbent sports minister Mr. Ajay Maken, Chief Minister of Delhi Ms. Sheila Dikshit and the three Mayors of Delhi.
During the meeting these members will be making a presentation to impress upon the leaders the sad state of affairs related to Sports.
Some children could not take part as the school vacations were on and they were visiting their native, it has been decided to have a consultation with children from schools and RWA’s on 20th of July. 




Monday, 20 May 2013


NEW DELHI, May 14, 2013

One lakh children in India die of diarrhoea annually: Lancet


File photo of patients undergoing treatment for diarrhoea at Mukulmua Gramin Hospital, Assam. Photo: Ritu Raj Konwar


Rotavirus has been identified as the main cause of diarrhoeal diseases in infants under 11 months

Over 1,00,000 children, below the age of 11 months, die of diarrhoea annually in India which is the second leading killer of young children globally, after pneumonia. India accounts for the highest number of diarrhoeal deaths, a latest study has suggested.

A new international study published in the latest edition of the British medical journal The Lancet provides the clearest picture yet of the impact and most common causes of diarrhoeal diseases.

The Global Enteric Multicenter Study (GEMS) is the largest study ever conducted on diarrhoeal diseases in developing countries, enrolling more than 20,000 children from seven sites across Asia (including India) and Africa. With approximately 4,57,000 to 8,84,000 hospitalisations and two million outpatient clinic visits each year in Indian children, this study pinpoints the key causes of childhood diarrhoea and suggests a roadmap to save hundreds of thousands of lives.

GEMS, coordinated by the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine’s Center for Vaccine Development, confirmed rotavirus as the leading cause of diarrhoeal diseases among infants under 11 months across all sites and identified other top causes for which additional research is urgently needed.

GEMS evaluated nearly 40 pathogens to map each one’s relative contribution to diarrhoeal disease. Combining data from all seven study countries, GEMS found that approximately one in five children under the age of two suffer from moderate-to-severe diarrhoea (MSD) each year, which increased children’s risk of death 8.5 fold and lead to stunted growth over a two-month follow-up period.

In India, the study was conducted in Kolkata at the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases and overseen by Principal Investigator Dipika Sur. Similar to other GEMS sites, just four pathogens – rotavirus, Cryptosporidium, Shigella, and ST-ETEC – caused the majority of MSD cases in Kolkata. The overall incidence of MSD was higher in Kolkata than at any other study site.

Infants under 11 months at Kolkata showed the highest burden, with roughly 90 episodes of MSD per 100 children each year, nearly double the next highest-burden site Kenya.

“Without a full picture of which pathogens cause the most harm, it has been difficult to make evidence-based decisions around diarrhoeal disease control,” said Dr. Sur. “GEMS will fill in those critical gaps in knowledge and will help in governments to prioritise resources for research and action to reduce the burden of disease,” she added.

Expanding access to vaccines for rotavirus could save thousands of lives and help avoid numerous hospitalisations, thereby improving the lives of children and families while simultaneously reducing significant burden on the healthcare costs, the report suggested.

GEMS data suggested that accelerating research on vaccines, treatments and diagnostics for the three other leading pathogens – Shigella, Cryptosporidium and ST-ETEC, a type of E. coli – could have a similar impact. Prior to GEMS, Cryptosporidium was not considered a major cause of diarrhoeal disease and consequently, there is currently little research on this pathogen underway.

Across most sites, children with MSD grew significantly less in height in the two months following the diarrhoeal episode. Significantly, 61 per cent of deaths occurred more than one week after the children were diagnosed with MSD, when children may no longer be receiving care and 56 per cent of deaths among cases occurred at home, suggesting that earlier studies focusing only on death occurred in health centres may underestimate the real burden of MSD.



Saturday, 18 May 2013


May 17, 2013

Unshrinking the kids


Children must be heard and not just seen in policies that affect them

FUTURE COLOURS: There is need to redefine the relationship between the state and the child. Photo: Nissar

A few weeks ago, through a gazette notification, the relationship of the child with the state was rearticulated, in some measure, through the National Policy for Children, 2013.

The well-written document, which acknowledges the child as an individual and the subject of his/her own development, displays a quiet confidence and sense of purpose. Yet, it leaves child rights advocates uneasy.

In the past few months, this Union Cabinet has made some over-due changes to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act and brought in legislation providing greater protection for children against sexual offences. Along the way, the Juvenile Justice Act was amended yet again and the Food Security Bill gave an across-the-board commitment to ensure that no child goes hungry. The gazette notification of the NPC thus marks a watershed event in the articulation of policy — delayed by attempts to reword it — on behalf of the child.

The language used in the NPC points to national consensus and clarity on measures to ensure that children grow up healthy and happy: “Survival, health, nutrition, development, education, protection and participation are the undeniable rights of every child and are the key priorities of this policy.” But that’s while sitting in Delhi, reading the document.

In a dusty village not too far from the highway to Delhi, an anganwadi worker is attempting to do what she is expected to do — feed children khara, unsweetened khichdi, three times a week, andmeetha (sweetened) khichdi on alternate days. That’s the order and she’s given sugar rationed accordingly. There is a slight problem. The children refuse to eat the khara kichdi. “Haath nahin lagaate lagate[they won’t touch it],” says the worker, pointing to the 12-odd cherubs, each sitting before an untouched plate of khichdi . Her assistant walks in and carefully adds a thimbleful of sugar to each mound of khichdi. Within minutes, the food has been eaten and the now noisy children are lining up to have their hands washed. “I’ve explained how to handle the situation,”complains the anganwadi worker, “but THEY don’t understand children!”

“They” are the individuals who draw up policies, make up the plans of action, who give the orders and ration sugar according to a generic notion of what is the role of children in the State-adult-child relationship.

That role had been clearly laid down in the National Policy for Children, 1974. It states: “Equal opportunities for development to all children during the period of growth should be our aim, for this would serve our larger purpose of reducing inequality and [bringing about] social justice.” Clearly, the 1974 policy saw children as being instrumental to a larger nation-building project.

That document describes a unity of action, an equity in approach towards all children that had marked the Nehruvian era. Reading, even after so many years, the transcript of the discussion in the Rajya Sabha of the NPC, 1974, reveals that the parliamentarians, who had not been involved in its formulation, were uncomfortable with the one-size-fits-all approach and probed the government’s knowledge of both what it meant to be a child and — equally important — what were the assumptions with which the state was engaging with children.

The depth of engagement with the issue of children’s relationship with the state was best explained by the socialist, Raj Narain, who sought to put an end to the then common practice of lining up children to wave at visiting dignitaries: “This practice makes children grow up believing they are less than others. It affects their sense of self negatively. This is not acceptable.”

Just as the discussion of the old NPC in Parliament raised issues which the implementers were forced to engage with while interacting with children and their families in villages and urban slums, the context in which the new NPC has been notified raises issues of changing government priorities, growing social and economic inequalities, which are just as deeply troubling.

The old NPC, for the first time, articulated beliefs about the nature and needs of children, the responsibilities of adults, and elucidated what social worker Rameshwari Nehru had unambiguously articulated in 1948 — children are the responsibility of the state.

The new one does more. In a first, its understanding of children’s rights emerges from within the Constitution and the indigenous civil liberties movement, (that’s code for the nationwide anti-Emergency movements). While accepting the idea that children had a right to participate in defining their present and their future, the drafters have clearly struggled with the question of participation — how much and in what context.

Unfortunately, the debate and discussions and, possibly, the difficult negotiations have led to a situation where the new NPC actually retreats from the Ministry of Women and Children’s own ongoing Strategic Plan of Action (2011-2016). In a succinct, unambiguous statement, the document states: “For the next five years, it will be a priority for the Ministry to increase the level of child participation and create mechanisms to facilitate the incorporation of children’s views into mainstream policy-making and program formulation processes.”

It is particularly worrying that the NPC 2013’s Plan of Action section on child participation has been almost entirely reproduced, but the only sentence left out was the one above. This is the only sentence which enables the creating of space for children’s views to be included in all policy-making, not just those which fall within the ministry’s remit.

Given that the entire state edifice has been built on a certain understanding of adult responsibilities — the machinery geared to turning out the kind of citizens who will retain the status quo — the clear struggle for drafters has been to understand the implications of accepting children as equal. After all, adult responsibilities do not diminish just because children have the right to participation.

There is thus, within the new NPC document, a longing for the seemingly halcyon past, when universality of care for children was unquestioned, adults’ responsibilities were accepted and children were to be seen and not heard. Fundamentally, the policy document reveals the difficulty in the new discourse of child participation, the demand for children to be seen as equals now rather than as adults-in-the-making, an asset, an investment for the future. Developmental studies scholar Robert Chambers tells this story of children’s rights to participation and adult responsibilities best. In a classroom, a teacher stopped to ask a young child, busy drawing freehand: “So what are you drawing?”

“God, I’m drawing God,” came the preoccupied reply from the child.

“But no one knows, what God looks like” said the puzzled teacher.

“They will in a minute” responded the bent head.

The NPC, 2013, which begins so well, is about adult concerns and an acknowledgement of their limitations. It could so easily have been about children and the lives in India they have the right to re-make.

(Vijayalakshmi Balakrishnan is with the Council for Social Development, New Delhi.)





BANGALORE, May 17, 2013

25 p.c. of out-of-school children never enrolled in schools: study


‘Economic compulsion one of the reasons for children dropping out of school’

A sample study conducted in the Shorapur educational block in Yadgir district has found that more than 25 per cent of the out-of-school children were never enrolled in schools. This is a pointer to the fact that the promise of “free and compulsory education” is still a distant dream in the backward pockets of the State.

As part of the study, carried out by Azim Premji Foundation in June 2012 in 53 villages of Shorapur, data was collected from 2,465 households that had 4,443 children aged between six and 16.

Of those surveyed, 773 were identified as out-of-school children. As many as 175 of the 773 children were never admitted to school.

The study revealed that a large number of those who were admitted to school dropped out in the first two years. As much as 56.3 per cent of the dropouts were girls. However, the researchers acknowledge that the issue of dropout among girls was far more severe as the district has a skewed sex ratio of 953 girls for 1,000 boys in the zero–six age group.

A majority of parents and children cited economic compulsion as one of the reasons for children dropping out of school. Surprisingly, distance from home to school was mentioned as a barrier by only 6 to 7 per cent of them. And, 17 per cent of them pointed out that failing in examination was the reason for their children dropping out of school.

Some of the other reasons that contributed to the high number of dropouts were unfavourable school environment and gender norms.

The study also pointed out that one of the variables that has a significant impact on the dropout rate is mother’s literacy. If a mother is literate, the child has 2.5 times more chances of being in school, while father’s literacy has little impact on it, according to the study.


Thursday, 9 May 2013


High allocation must to save the children

By The New Indian Express

09th May 2013 07:23 AM

As if ranking second in the world, after Bangladesh, with 47 per cent of malnourished children wasn’t bad enough, India has now been recognised as the worst place to be born in, where 3,00,000 children die within 24 hours of their birth every year. The grim revelation by the NGO, Save the Children, is not surprising since it was earlier estimated by the UN that 2.1 million Indian children die per year — four every minute — before reaching the age of five. Moreover, the deaths are due to preventable diseases like diarrhoea, typhoid, malaria, measles and pneumonia.

As the State of the World’s Mothers report points out, children born in poor families have a high rate of mortality. The reason is not only poor hygienic and living conditions of the socially and economically disadvantaged families, but also that they are not always well informed. Poverty, too, weakens the natural resistance to ailments and hampers the process of recovery.

According to the Global Hunger Index (GHI), India is among the three countries where GHI went up from 22.9 to 23.7 between 1996 and 2011 while the conditions improved in 78 of the 81 developing countries. Among India’s neighbours, these included Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. Given the inter-linked nature of the problem where economic development has to be accompanied by social advancement if children are to have better futures, a partnership between government, business, media and civil society is imperative. The first target should be Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh where mortality rates are higher than in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir. Kerala, with its high literacy, is the best in this respect followed by Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Maharashtra. The way forward is high allocation of resources for maternal health and child care services.



Infant mortality in India: Over 3 lakh die within 24 hours of taking birth
CB Bureau May 7, 2013

Every year, lack of political will and funding for crisis kills over three lakh infants within a day (24 hours) of being born in India, a says a recently released report State of the World's Mothers.

The crux of this 14th annual report by Save the Children is that there is nothing that is not avertable as the main reasons for deaths in majority of cases are infections and other preventable causes.

The disturbing numbers in the report say that 29 per cent of the newborn deaths worldwide happen only in India. The report, published after survey of 186 countries, says that South Asia (with 24 per cent of the world's population) records 40 per cent of the world's first-day deaths.

"Progress has been made, but more than 1,000 babies die every day on their first day of life from preventable causes throughout India, Pakistan and Bangladesh," said Mike Novell, the regional director, Save the Children.

The organization identified three major causes of newborn deaths – complications during birth, prematurity and infections – and said access to low-cost life-saving interventions could cut down the figures by as much as 75 per cent. "What is lacking is the political will and funding to deliver these solutions to all the mothers and babies who need them," read the statement by the charity.

Although the spending on poor and rural communities has seen a substantial rise in the last decade through various developmental schemes, most such programmes have not benefited those who need them the most. As a result, more than half of all Indian women give birth without the help of skilled health professionals, leading to infections and complications. In remote areas of the country, doctors and hospitals are rare, so health of children in those areas is in the hands of poorly trained substitutes.

In a Times of India news published today, Sharmila Lal, a Delhi-based gynaecologist, claimed that even in cities such as New Delhi that has relatively better healthcare facilities women are delivering at home. Despite hospitals being near at hand, the women are having babies at home in a highly unsafe and unhygienic environment primarily because of lack of awareness said Lal.

As per Save the Children, infant mortality can be addressed by closing the equity gap in a developing country like India where economic benefits have been shared unequally. “If all newborns in India experienced the same survival rates as newborns from the richest Indian families, nearly 360,000 more babies would survive each year,” it said.



More than 3 lakh newborn babies die in India every year, reveals study

IBNLive.com | Updated May 07, 2013 at 12:07pm IST


New Delhi: More than 4,00,000 babies across South Asia die right after their birth, reveals a new study. The report also indicates that chronic malnourishment which leads to mental or physical impairment is particularly severe in the region.

The report's birth day risk index shows that of the one million babies who die each year on the day they are born, almost 40 per cent of these are in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The statistic makes the first 24 hours by far the riskiest day of a human life, not just in the region but in almost every country in the world.

Stunting amongst mothers in South Asia is one of the major factors contributing to newborn baby deaths in the region, according to the report. Mothers, who suffer from stunting, run a higher risk of complications during birth - both for themselves and their babies.

The study says that of the one million babies who die each year on the day they are born, almost 40 per cent of these are in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The report says India has persistently high rates of newborn mortality, and accounts for 29 per cent of all first day deaths globally - 309,000 a year. However, the report suggests while some countries are making progress, the State of the World's Mothers report shows that inequality is growing both between and within nations. If all newborns in India, for example, experienced the same survival opportunities as newborns from the richest Indian families, nearly 3,60,000 more babies would survive each year suggests the report.

According to Government of India's Sample Registration Survey (SRS 2011) Madhya Pradesh has the highest burden of early newborn deaths (0-7 days) at 32, followed closely by Uttar Pradesh and Odisha - 30. Other states with high burden are Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and J&K. Kerala is the leader in reducing neonatal mortality by a wide margin, while Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Maharashtra too have bucked the national rate.



Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Child Rights Club Members Empowerment Camp – Davangere



Our vision is to empower the children by enabling them to enjoy their rights and also fight back in case of violation. With this aim we brought together the representatives of different CRCs constituted with the support of CREAM project. The main purpose was to strengthen and reinforce them, provide proper orientation to the participants, clarify their role as members of CRC, provide them with proper skills and thus enhance their creativity and leadership qualities.


           Two different camps for a schedule of 6 days were organized from 15th  to 29th April. The topics such as CRCs and it role, the JJ Act, and child help line were dealt by Mr.Manjappa, Mr.Rama Naik and Mr.Kotresh respectively. Apart from these information sessions, a great deal of group activities, soft skill sessions and games were organized by Fr.Rubin and a couple of peer educators of our institute. Mr.Richard added colour and vigour with his action songs, dance classes and cultural activities. About 100 representatives from about 15 clubs of the various CRC formed under the banner of CREAM attended the camp.


      The active and enthusiastic response on the part of children, especially while participating in group activities, discussions and games proved very conducive.


        The children, during evaluation and the concluding ceremony of the camp were very much happy about what they learned. They told us that they learnt a lot about working in groups sharing ideas, the qualities of being a good leader and above all striving to live by their rights and enabling their friends for the same. All the members assured that they would do their best to ensure that child rights are protected. It was nice to see them taking initiatives to make sure none of their companions drop out halfway.


16 children rescued from city eateries

Friday, May 3, 2013, 13:01 IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA

DNA Correspondent  

The child labourers were 14-17 years old and were allegedly made to work for 12 to 15 hours a day.

Sixteen children working in various eateries in Ellisbridge area, as well as two from Kalupur railway station, were rescued by Childline on Thursday. The children aged between 14 and 17 years were allegedly made to work for 12 to 15 hours a day. “We had a tip-off about three children working at a kitli in Ellisbridge. When we went to rescue them, we found the other children working at the eateries. These included Jalaram Paratha House and Raghvanshi Paratha House,” said Purnima Gupta, assistant director, Childline.

She said that in poor families, many parents willingly send their children for work. “The children hail from Banswada, Dungarpur and Udaipur,” she said. She further said that 55% of the rescued child labourers often end up being sent to work again. 

“A child found from the railway station used to work for a pani-puri vendor who did not pay him. So he ran away and was found roaming at the station by our worker,” she said.  As to why eateries prefer to hire children despite it being against the law, she said it was because children could be paid a pittance or not paid at all. “The children are often made to work for 15 hours with no breaks or holidays,” she said.



150 schools face shutdown as they can’t comply with RTE

By Pandurang Mhaske, Mumbai Mirror | May 7, 2013, 02.24 AM IST



According to data available with the education department, 76 schools in the western suburbs, 64 in eastern suburbs and 12 in South Mumbai await BMC approval



The BMC has refused to approve extension of classes for over 150 private schools in the city, as these schools were unable to comply with the stringent norms of the Right to Education Act (RTE). If they cannot comply with these norms, there is a chance that these schools could shut down next academic year. The BMC, however, has approached the state government to relax these norms, as some of them cannot be implied by several schools.

According to the RTE norms, the school building must have a boundary wall, a playground and access to the school must be barrier-free. Also, the school must have sports equipment for each class.

These norms have become a bane for school trustees. Mohammad Anis Siddiqie, a trustee of Rose Mary School in Malvani said the RTE norms are hard to comply. "The state government needs to relax these norms for the schools," he said.

Like Siddiqie, Layju Joseph, a trustee of Daya Sagar School in Malad also asked for the RTE rules to be relaxed. "We have been running our school for over 20 years. It is difficult to comply with these norms, as there is no open space available," he said.

The trustees then approached local corporator Cyril D'Souza, who took the issue up with the education committee chairman Manoj Kotak.

During the meeting, D'Souza said there were several schools that could not follow the norms issued by the RTE. "We understand that playgrounds are necessary in schools, but it is difficult in a city like Mumbai to get an open space for playgrounds," he said. Many schools also operate out of residential buildings. "In such cases, it becomes impossible to have a boundary wall," said D'Souza, adding that with roads and footpaths being taken over by hawkers, it becomes all the more difficult for schools to have boundary walls.

Kotak, too, agreed with D'Souza's points, adding that every ward has such schools. "It becomes difficult to fulfill these norms in Mumbai due to the lack of space. We are now planning to approach the state government to relax these norms, otherwise the schools will shut down next year," said Kotak.

Currently, Mumbai has several private schools, which are recognised by the BMC. Until last year, these schools would receive a grant from the state government through the civic body.

While the schools were state-recognised, they needed approval to expand with respect to the number of sections. Many schools had expanded their secondary section by one class every year with BMC approval. However, this year, the permissions were denied by the civic body, citing the RTE norms.

According to data available with the education department, there are 76 schools in the western suburbs, 64 schools in the eastern suburbs and 12 schools in South Mumbai awaiting BMC approval. Malad has the most number of schools with 31 schools.





May 5, 2013


Many a hurdle on RTE path



The Right to Education (RTE) Act turned three on March 31, 2013. It is certainly a short period to examine its efficacy, yet it is enough to give us a fair idea of the hurdles that are being faced and have to be tackled to get positive results. Most of these hurdles are attitudinal.

The services of retired teachers are mostly sought for imparting “special training” to out-of-school children after which they are to mainstreamed in regular schools in their age-appropriate classes, according to Section 4 of the Act. These teachers are attuned to the routine teaching methods, while the “special training” teacher has to have a different attitude altogether. He has to be bias-free and sympathetic towards his pupils, which is difficult even in the regular schools as has been pointed out in the Public Report on Basic Education in India (PROBE) — “Discrimination against under-privileged groups is endemic, in several forms” (4.4).

Besides being equipped with suitable pedagogy, this teacher has to have a keen sense of adolescent psychology to tackle the hurdles of shyness and fear in the 12+ age group. The course for these ‘special-training teachers’ requires strengthening in this area.

A substantial section of students in regular rural government schools are first generation learners belonging to a weak economic background. The teachers, on the other hand, come from a relatively different background and therefore, many a time their behaviour is either patronising, or of indifference, or of a negative bias — anything but that of a friend and guide.

Cause for concern

In this scenario, the provisions of Section 12, providing for not less than 25% of the class strength of special category schools and unaided schools for students of the weaker sections and disadvantaged groups, become a cause for concern. Though it remains to be studied how students of the weaker/disadvantaged sections will psychologically cope with the upper economic class ambience of those schools where students from the very well-off families study, no effort has been made to orient the teachers to shed the subtle forms of discriminatory behaviour so that little children with a weaker economic background do not face a culture-shock or feel like misfits in the class.

Automatic promotion, a problem

Section 16, which bars failing a student, has been found to be irksome by many teachers. The surety of being promoted to the next class makes students lackadaisical towards studies at times. A teacher said that when she asked a student to be regular to class otherwise he won’t be able to learn anything and will have to sit in this class again next year, the boy replied, “Don’t try to frighten me, I know next year I will be promoted to class 7 whether I know anything or not.”

It is essential, therefore, to see that the intention of removing the fear of exams does not result in indifference to learning and breed stubbornness and indiscipline in students. Besides making the ‘Comprehensive and Continuous Evaluation’ more scientific and stringent, the curriculum and books development have to be seriously reviewed in this perspective.

Section 21 provides an important role to the community. The School Management Committee (SMC), consisting of a majority of parents and headed by one of them, is to monitor the working of the school, including its finances. A number of instances have been brought before this writer in which the SMC Adhyaksha has tried to use his local clout and the power conferred by the RTE Act to intimidate the teachers to go along with him in unfair financial acts. This only disturbs the academic atmosphere of the school and makes the teacher lose interest in his duty.

Many a time, the members of the SMC are not very eager to attend meetings as, for some, it is a sacrifice of one day’s earning. Thus, the burden of the SMC, at the end of the day, falls on the head teacher. It is so convenient for the authorities, too, to fix the responsibility of a work on him which ideally should be of the whole SMC.

The transfer of many powers exercised earlier by the Village Education Committee to the SMC has raised the hackles of the gram pradhan. Instances of false complaints against teachers and interference in the working of the school by the gram pradhan have become common. This situation will worsen when the SMC and the gram pradhan are of different political orientations.

Though the Act bars teachers from getting engaged in non-academic work other than census, elections and disaster relief, duties of a booth level officer, pulse-polio helper or, implementor of various schemes in the school and keeping their accounts do affect academic work. It also sometimes results in confrontation with the locals. This, along with poor pupil-teacher ratios and unscheduled long holidays (for instance due to the vagaries of the weather), makes provisions like ‘Academic Calendar’ (Section 9 m) a pious homily.

The schedule of ‘Forms and Standards’ annexed to the Act raises some questions. It prescribes the number of teachers on the basis of the strength of students and not classes/sections at the primary level. For instance, it prescribes four teachers for 120 students which, in effect, means that at least one teacher will have to do multigrade teaching. It will only get worse as the number of students falls.

The RTE blends the State’s responsibility of providing education with the community’s active participation in monitoring. Steps have to be devised to counter the negativities of community participation like caste bias, egos and financial corruption to make it a success and positive force. It is also essential that the training programmes focus on making teachers love their job, besides making them efficient. Road bumps are not something to be afraid of. They are, in fact, a testimony to the reality that we have started walking the path.

(The writer is an officer in the U.P. Education Services, Allahabad. Email: skandshukla@ yahoo.com)