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Children’s Day: ‘The Right to Education’

Children’s Day: ‘The Right to Education’
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By: M Ahmad

Children’s Day is celebrated each year on the birth anniversary of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, which is on November 14. Children’s Day is celebrated as a tribute to Nehru. Nehru, fondly called ‘Chacha Nehru’ was born on November 14, 1889. He was known for his affection for kids.

He also established Children’s Film Society India in 1955 to create indigenous cinema exclusively for kids. Before 1964, India celebrated Children’s Day on November 20 (the United Nations observes it on this day.) However, after the death of Pandit Nehru in 1964, it was decided that his birthday be celebrated as Children’s Day.

The Right To Education (RTE) Act provides for the: Right of children to free and compulsory education till completion of elementary education in a neighbourhood school. It clarifies that ‘compulsory education’ means obligation of the appropriate government to provide free elementary education and ensure compulsory admission, attendance and completion of elementary education to every child in the six to fourteen age group. ‘Free’ means that no child shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education.

It makes provisions for a non-admitted child to be admitted to an age appropriate class. It specifies the duties and responsibilities of appropriate Governments, local authority and parents in providing free and compulsory education, and sharing of financial and other responsibilities between the Central and State Governments. It lays down the norms and standards relating inter alia to Pupil Teacher Ratios (PTRs), buildings and infrastructure, school-working days, teacher-working hours.

It provides for rational deployment of teachers by ensuring that the specified pupil teacher ratio is maintained for each school, rather than just as an average for the State or District or Block, thus ensuring that there is no urban-rural imbalance in teacher postings. It also provides for prohibition of deployment of teachers for non-educational work, other than decennial census, elections to local authority, state legislatures and parliament, and disaster relief.

It provides for appointment of appropriately trained teachers, i.e. teachers with the requisite entry and academic qualifications. It prohibits (a) physical punishment and mental harassment; (b) screening procedures for admission of children; (c) capitation fee; (d) private tuition by teachers and (e) running of schools without recognition.

It provides for development of curriculum in consonance with the values enshrined in the Constitution, and which would ensure the all-round development of the child, building on the child’s knowledge, potentiality and talent and making the child free of fear, trauma and anxiety through a system of child friendly and child centered learning. All schools covered under the Right to Education Act 2009 are obligated to constitute a School Management Committee comprising of a head teacher, local elected representative, parents, community members etc.

The committees have been empowered to monitor the functioning of schools and to prepare a school development plan. The Right to Education Act 2009 mandates for all private schools to reserve 25 per cent of their seats for children belonging to socially disadvantaged and economically weaker sections. This provision of the Act is aimed at boosting social inclusion to provide for a more just and equal nation.

For a better future, we need an education that will give students the freedom to think and speak, the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them, the freedom to dissent and discuss. Only then will education play its meaningful role in providing a better future to all. Education should not only emphasize developing these skills, but also modern pedagogy should propagate them. The Children of today will be adults of tomorrow. Today’s leaders and activists. Their quality and personality will determine the kind of destiny that beckons the nation.

It, therefore, become mandatory for every nation and every society to nurture a strong, healthy and intellectual youth. It is the responsibility of the adults to direct the youth in desired direction. The youth of a nation is its power-house. They have boundless stores of energy, will, capability, zeal, and enthusiasm and have the power to mould the destiny of the nation.

This infinite storehouse of energy has to be properly molded and needs to be given appropriate direction. The youth has to train to use their talents needs to given appropriate direction. The youth has to be trained to use their talents and abilities in constructive ways and help in nation-building and strengthening of it.

Without harnessing this vast store of energy, a nation and a society cannot think of developing economically, politically, socially and intellectually. The best way to engage the youth into playing such a constructive role is to educate them with proper training in the desired direction.

The world we live in today was created and shaped by truly inspirational leaders from all walks of life. It is said that true leaders are not born but are made, as all children have the potential to develop leadership skills and this development of leadership skills is a lifelong process.

As parents, caregivers, and teachers, it is our responsibility to help instill these qualities and skills in our children for them to emerge as future leaders. Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders and this tremendous responsibility of raising the next generation of leaders should be done with absolute due diligence.

It is by teaching our children the right values and skills while also instilling leadership qualities in them that we can make a positive impact on the world when they grow up. It is vital this quality of leadership has to be taught from a young age, as children who learn the skills of leadership from a young age are known to develop valuable qualities such as resilience, confidence, positive attitude, perseverance, commitment, willing to take on challenges, willingness to accept their mistakes and to learn and grow from those mistakes. Therefore, we will look at ways by which we can inculcate leadership qualities in our children and encourage them to be future leaders in this blog.

While we encourage, teach children to always remember that the best leaders learn to handle failures as gracefully as they embrace success. And teach them about perseverance and patience, as these are virtues that are also essential for effective leadership.

“Children are like buds in a garden and should be carefully and lovingly nurtured, as they are the future of the nation and the citizens of tomorrow. Only through right education can a better order of society be built up.”…….Jawahar Lal Nehru

(The author is an educationist and regularly writes for various newspapers)

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