New Delhi: It`s been a year since the right of children to free and compulsory education (RTE) was enacted April 1, 2010, but since then the organisation tasked with monitoring compliance has registered just 230 complaints from all over the country - reflecting lack of awareness about the act.
According to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) - whose role has been defined in the act as the chief monitoring agency - of the 230 complaints received, a large number are from the national capital, Delhi.
"Of the 230 complaints received, 65 are from Delhi, 27 complaints were from Madhya Pradesh, 25 from Haryana and 22 each from Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh," NCPCR chairperson Shantha Sinha said at a press meet in the capital Thursday.
"From most of the northeastern states like Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland and those like Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh, there have been no complaints," she added.
"Awareness about the act continues to be extremely low, specially at levels below the state. While people are not aware, even teachers` and head teachers` knowledge is rudimentary," Sinha said.
To generate more awareness, the commission has recommended that the basic entitlements under the act be painted on walls of all government school buildings. The human resource development ministry has accepted the recommendation.
Besides the NCPCR, the responsibility of monitoring in the states lies with the state commissions for protection of child rights (SCPCR), or in the absence of state commissions, the Right to Education Protection Authority (REPA).
However, only 11 states have formed SCPCRs while 16 are yet to form any. Among the state commissions, the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) is very active and has registered more than 11,000 complaints over the past one year in relation to the RTE Act.
Sinha said the complaints with the NCPCR were registered until March 30, 2011.
A large number of them, 51, were related to admissions. Cases related to corporal punishment were also quite a lot, 34.
Kiran Bhatty, national coordinator of the RTE devision of the NCPCR, said: "We have been getting a lot of complaints of corporal punishment. The case of Rouvanjit, a Class 8 student of La Martiniere school in Kolkata in which he committed suicide after being punished in school, is a case in point".
"We have, therefore, made a policy recommendation to the ministry of human resource development that a committee on corporal punishment should be formed," she added.
Another recommendation is that a grievance redressal body should be formed.
"The range of complaints related to right to education is varied and the same agency cannot address all of them and at different levels. A set of grievance redressal rules that looks into registering the complaint, investigating it and also looks at the appeal process is required," Sinha said.