The recommendations in the draft National Education Policy, 2016 have been reported in this media before and how it can have far reaching effects due to its sheer scope of recommendations. However, as the recommendations are put under the scanner slowly it is coming to light that several recommendations of the draft policy will require amendments to the Right to Education Act, 2009.
Insisting on "consolidation", the draft policy has proposed to merge "small, non-viable" schools. This runs contrary to the RTE Act which emphasises on neighbourhood schools being located "within a walking distance of one kilometre" for children attending Classes I to V.
While the draft speaks about the need for "school mapping" – RTE emphasises "child-mapping" – however stresses that for children attending "non-viable" schools, transport must be provided. It notes such "consolidation" is already on in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh, all BJP-ruled states.
The proposal to extend the 25% economically weaker section (EWS) quota in private schools to minority institutions will also need an amendment. This is due to the rapidly increasing number of schools that claim religious or linguistic minority status.
The RTE has clearly mandated a no-detention policy -banning grade-repetition -till Class VIII; the committee however, wants it limited to Class V. It introduces remedial classes "by school teachers or volunteers" and supplementary examinations rather than simply not detaining the students.
In a rare recommendation, the committee has directly suggested amending the RTE to "provide, in addition to infrastructure, learning outcome norms that affect quality of education", which in fact is a longstanding private school demand.
The draft policy report has much to say on infrastructure and the RTE. "Infrastructure norms for recognition of private schools should be applied to government schools…and punitive action should be ensured for not adhering to them," it says. "States should be given flexibility to determine norms for infrastructure requirement," it adds.
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