Saturday, February 4, 2012

RTE: Homeschooling too is fine,says Sibal

But States Must Ensure Education For All: Minister

Homeschooling parents can continue to educate their children at home now that HRD minister Kapil Sibal has clarified the ministrys stance.
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act,2009 wants every child to be in school, but if somebody decides not to send his/her children to school, we are not going to interfere. The compulsion is on the state, not on the parents. Parents are free not to send their children to school, but teach them at home. We cannot be micromanaging, Sibal told TOI on Tuesday.
The Act stipulates eight years of formal education for all children between 6 and 14 years of age.Homeschooling parents believe in individual skills and want to nurture them in their children at home rather than in schools.The Act,outlining the duties of the parents, says, It shall be the duty of every parent or guardian to admit or cause to be admitted his or her child or ward,as the case may be,to an elementary education in the neighbourhood school.
The 25-odd city-based homeschooling families and scores from other cities have been looking at the implications of the Act and seeking clarifications over whether it is a punishable offence. Educational expert Alok Mathur said homeschooling is not punishable under the Act. Mathur,the director of teachers education at Rishi Valley school in Andhra Pradesh, which imparts alternative education, was part of a group which met Sibal a few weeks ago in Delhi. The meeting was initiated on behalf of a Delhi-based homeschooling parent.


Homeschooling: Legal in India
Homeschoolers in India received great news when they opened up their newspapers this past week: The Minister of Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal (with responsibility over education) officially recognized and affirmed homeschooling as a legal educational option in all of India.
While homeschoolers in India have largely been left alone in the past, a new education law came into effect in April 2010 that mandates compulsory attendance in schools. Since the law did not address alternative education options, homeschoolers were left to wonder how the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009 (RTE) would affect them.
Homeschoolers and alternative schools in India had petitioned the government in favor of a parent’s right to choose the form of his child’s education ever since the RTE became law. In April 2010, the Indian High Court heard a case regarding whether the RTE infringes on the freedom of parents. The court dismissed the petition, but gave parents who homeschool or send their children to alternative schools eight weeks to make a presentation before the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). Homeschoolers met to draft a presentation, as well as a letter to the Minister of HRD, asking that he accommodate homeschooling in the RTE Act or, at the very least, clarify its stand on home education. Minister Sibal’s statements offer the official clarification that homeschoolers in India have been waiting for since earlier this year.
In a statement released through The Times of India last Tuesday, Minister Sibal states that the purpose behind the compulsory education requirements of the RTE Act is for “every child to be in school.” He explains, however, that the RTE places responsibility on the state to create schools and not explicitly on the parents to send their children to the schools. The Act requires the state to ensure that reasonable, quality education exists for all children in all sections of society, especially the poorest and most deprived sections. The Act is not meant to compel school attendance when parents have decided that the best form of education for their child is instruction in the home.
“If somebody decides not to send his or her children to school, we [the government] are not going to interfere,” Minister Sibal clarifies. “Parents are free not to send their children to school, but teach them at home.” The Minister says the government cannot be micromanaging, and “if parents wished to and had the means,” they can homeschool their children. HSLDA applauds the Minister’s philosophy in this regard and is encouraged about the prospect of home education continuing to grow in India.
Since homeschoolers are not required to register with any government bodies, there are no official numbers of how many homeschooled students are in India. India has a total population of over 1 billion, with roughly a third of its citizens under the age of 14, so the opportunity for a robust homeschool movement is strong. In recent months, homeschooling appears to be a growing choice of parents. Homeschoolers in India have actively pursued organizing themselves via online means, as well as working to gain favorable media attention.
Check the link http://www.hslda.org/hs/international/India/default.aspfor more articles on homeschooling in India.

Friday, February 3, 2012

HERALD TO HOMESCHOOL

It was July 2009. I felt stirred up reading all the negative hype in the Herald about the state’s garbage problems and decided, on a lark, to pen a letter to the editor. Imagine my surprise and delight, when it was published and was chosen as the star letter. This motivated me to write middles for the paper and thus began my career as a freelance writer.
When I met with the editor after a few months, he encouraged me to start writing features and I penned my first article on the environment which was published in Herald’s Goa’s Heartbeat section. Writing has always been a talent that I never kept on a lamp stand, always under a bushel. Teaching has been my vocation right from the start. But now, here I was, a stay-at-home mother and I realized that I could still teach – through my writing!
Around that time, I had heard that a family was homeschooling their five children and I decided that I would do a feature on them. When I contacted them, I discovered, to my disappointment, that they had already been interviewed a few years back. Then they called us for a ME weekend and that was the beginning of a short and sweet journey till we began homeschooling ourselves. Glenn was gifted with the option to work from home and we grabbed it with both hands grasped in thanks to God for endorsing our venture.
It’s been 8 months since started homeschooling and its been a bumpy rollercoaster ride. But I wouldn’t give it up for anything because I feel fulfilled to see my children grounded in the truth and getting there in terms of manners and morality. I have learnt to rectify my own shortcomings and catch myself when I do not practice what I preach. We have been to umpteen field trips, each better than the first. The children have socialized like never before.
I must admit though that it is difficult to get them to the study table. They want to play all the time. So I try to think out of the box and supplement the boring stuff with practical work. We use the internet to update and Aaron, my oldest boy does small projects which he posts on his own blog “My Log my Blog” at blogspot.com
This year, we made an eco-friendly Christmas crib from plastic bottles to create awareness about the menace of plastic. We participated in a plastic-free drive. I reported these events in Herald. I also did a radio talk about the menace of plastic for All India Radio, which was aired in Dec 2011. We also participated in the Pro-life Rally organized by the Diocesan Family Service Centre. We made new friends in our homeschool and pro-life groups. We also attend the Charismatic prayer meetings regularly as a family.
My husband supports the homeschool venture although he doesn’t teach the children. He’s our Principal! And the wind beneath my wings.
We have had a lot of people ask us what we are doing and most of them seem to accept and understand our decision. But there are some who snigger behind our backs or take potshots from time to time. Persecution comes with any new idea so I do not fear the brickbats. We hope our lifestyle will eventually inspire others to follow in our footsteps.
From a spiritual standpoint, homeschool has given us daily Mass, and a chance for Glenn & the boys to serve at Mass. Besides, we disconnected cable TV once we began and the children watch movies which are screened for abusive language, explicit adult scenes. Mostly, they view spiritual cartoons. And enact them for our viewing pleasure!
An example of how much interesting it can get: I did a lesson on Anaemia with the boys recently. After we discussed the points in the text, I showed them Daniel, my 8-month-old’s medicines and asked them to identify the one that contained iron. Then I took my tablets and Nathan identified the iron tablet strip correctly. This is why I love homeschool so much.
I REST MY CASE.