M A I N   N E W S

Tribune Special
For RTE’s sake, PM writes to 13 lakh heads of schools 
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, October 17
This Education Day (November 11), the principal of each elementary school in India will receive VVIP mail -- a letter from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Contained therein will be a highly personalised message of the PM for the children of the country, who have long been guaranteed the Right to Education (RTE) by law, but who may not still know of it.

The letter, to be posted to 13 lakh principals of as many elementary level schools, will be read aloud in each school assembly on Education Day, marking the formal launch of UPA’s new and unique year-long campaign to take RTE to the last child in the remotest village.

Called ‘Shiksha ka Haq’ (Right to Education), this first of its kind drive in the history of social awareness campaigns in the country, will involve over two lakh volunteers and hundreds of community-based organisations which will run door-to-door campaigns until November 11, 2012, helping schools to become RTE compliant by March 31, 2013, the deadline set for states to implement the law in letter and spirit.

The campaign will be launched on November 11 from Mewat in Haryana, one of the country’s most educationally backward districts. Simultaneously, it will be launched in schools all over, with principals reading out to the children the PM’s message and a covering letter from Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, whose address will accompany the PM’s.

The PM’s involvement in the campaign makes it even more special. His letter, which is in the process of being posted to principals, is intended to encourage children, their parents and the 60 lakh teachers in the elementary sector to make extra efforts to realise the Right to Education. The letter has been translated into 14 Indian languages to cover every geographical region.

Through the campaign, which will work at the level of community, media, parents and teachers, the government seeks to convert all 13 lakh elementary schools into “RTE schools” by 2013.

“Over the next year, we will work through two lakh volunteers to help each school draw up its RTE agenda until 2013.

The idea is to take the right where it is intended considering its awareness is still very low in the poorer and rural belts. We have focused far too much on urban areas and on 25% reservation for disadvantaged children in private schools. We must now take the law far and beyond the cities and see that its true potential gets unleashed,” Vinod Raina, member of the National Advisory Council on RTE, told The Tribune today.

The modalities of ‘Shiksha ka Haq’ were finalised a fortnight ago at a meeting of the RTE National Advisory Council and it was decided that PM’s involvement be sought to give the drive an edge.

“The PM instantly agreed. His letter is ready. We will start posting it now. Its content will be read out on November 11,” Raina said, adding that the advisory council felt it would be better to celebrate Education Day, which commemorates the birth anniversary of the country’s first education minister Maulana Abul Kalam, among children and teachers in Mewat than in high-security Vigyan Bhavan in the capital.

Earlier, the PM had, in a significant departure from norm, dedicated the Right to Education to the nation in a televised address on April 1, 2010. He has yet again associated himself with the cause.





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