I sent this to Herald for the OPinionatED column.Hoping it will be published but at least you can read.
RTE ACT AND HOME SCHOOLING
The Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009 states that ‘Every child between the ages of 6 to 14 years has the right to free and compulsory education.’ This is stated as per the 86th Constitution Amendment Act added Article 21A. The right to education bill seeks to give effect to this amendment. The government schools shall provide free education to all the children and the schools will be managed by school management committees (SMC). Private schools shall admit at least 25% of the children in their schools without any fee. The National Commission for Elementary Education shall be constituted to monitor all aspects of elementary education including quality.
Now, with the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, which stipulates eight years of formal education for all children, parents in favour of homeschooling are confused about whether the Act has scope for their mode of education.A writ petition to this effect was filed in the Delhi High Court in March this year by 12-year-old Delhi girl Shreya Sahai, who decided to go for homeschooling as it would allow her more flexibility to pursue her interests — music, photography and painting. In April, the PIL, which said the RTE infringes on the freedom of parents and needs to be amended to accommodate homeschooling, was heard by a High Court Division Bench. While the Bench dismissed the petition, it gave the petitioners eight weeks from April 13 to make a representation to the Ministry of Human Resouce Development, asking for their vision on homeschooling. In April after the court’s advice, a group of parents who either send their children to alternative schools — there are about 100 such schools in India — and those who homeschool their wards, met in Bangalore to draft a presentation for the MHRD. The homeschoolers also drafted a letter to be sent to Minister of MHRD Kapil Sibal asking him to accommodate homeschooling in the RTE Act or clarify its stand on homeschooling and alternative education.
In India, homeschooling is slowly coming into its own. People discontented with the way schools are being run are seeking alternatives and one of them is homeschooling. Recently, The Times of India published an article on a homeschooler Master Sahal Kaushik who stood 33rd in the country in the IIT-JEE exams. His father had this to say “"I have always been a firm believer in the doctrine that anything can be learnt at any time. All you need is the right environment and an interest in the subject." And his mother added, “"It's a lot of hard work, but very rewarding too. We feel that this is an appropriate way for a child to learn, without having to face pressure of any kind.”
What is home schooling? And why are many parents opting for it nowadays? Can a homeschooler join the mainstream or is his future bleak? What sacrifices need to be made by the parent and child in order to make homeschooling a viable option?
Homeschooling is the education of children at home, typically by parents but sometimes by tutors, rather than in other formal settings of public or private schools. It was started in the United States first and spread around the whole world later. abroad. Lets look into the pros and cons of this method of education.
The advantages of homeschooling include:
1. Safety and Health: As the children don’t have to travel to school, the stress involved early morning in getting them up, rushing them off to school and ensuring that they return home safely is eliminated. When they are ill, a temporary holiday can be declared and there is absolutely no stress on the parent to get them well soon or to complete unfinished work, as we see happen so often in the formal school setup.
2. Flexibility: The academic year can be planned as per the family schedule and revised from time to time as the need arises. As it is a year-long and a lifelong process, there are no prolonged holidays for children to waste their time, getting bored and worrying their parents.
3. Undivided attention: No formal school can give undivided attention to each student in the way a homeschool can. Here the student-teacher ratio is 1:1. The parent can teach at the level of the child, allowing him to learn at his own pace, take time to comprehend the matter in-depth, and use methods suited to the child’s learning style. The curriculum can also be tailored to suit the child’s abilities and hence stress on the child is zero.
4. Moral Character: Parents are the best teachers of moral values and religious faith. They can keep a close watch and correct wrong behaviour effectively when they are constantly with the children. These are some of the advantages.
Now let’s take a look into the disadvantages. These are:
1. Lack of Socialization: Homeschooling children miss out on school events like competitions, picnics, class tours, field trips, etc.
2. Lack of Order & Discipline: In homeschooling, due to flexibility, the child may take his own time getting ready, causing discipline problems for the parents.
3. Parental Inefficiency: The parent-teacher needs to be trained in teaching methods, and how to create an environment conducive for learning at home, how to instill discipline, how to be effective in home management, etc.
My question to the Honourable Minister is this: If, as a parent, I am not satisfied with the way my child is educated at present in the formal school system and wish to teach him myself, what are the provisions in the RTE Act for the same? Do I need to be trained as a teacher or will my love for my child be enough to qualify me as the best teacher he will ever have? Will a democratic government give me the freedom to choose how to educate my child or will it enforce an unjust act upon him? Mr. Kapil Sibal, I represent a minority but I hope for justice. What will your answer be?