Ensure education for students in religious centres: child panel

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‘It is State’s responsibility to ensure that children are getting free and compulsory elementary education’

‘It is State’s responsibility to ensure that children are getting free and compulsory elementary education’

Local self-government institutions concerned should ensure that children studying in religious study centres in the State are getting free and compulsory elementary education, the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has said.

The commission of members K. Nazeer and Babitha B. recently directed the Local Self-government Secretary, Panchayat Director, and the Municipality Director to issue directions to local self-government institutions to take necessary steps in this connection.

They also said that all local self-government institutions should take action to address complaints related to the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, as directed in Section 32 of the Act.

The commission was acting on a complaint from a Thiruvananthapuram resident that Al Fitr Islamic Pre-school at Nallalam in Kozhikode admitted students only from a particular religious background, had its own syllabus that was not recognised by the Education department, brought people from abroad to train its teachers, and had inadequate facilities for students. Such a system went against a secular outlook, the complainant alleged.

The Kozhikode Deputy Director of Education’s report to the commission said the school had been recognised by the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions. The students belonged to the Muslim community. Besides studies, two hours had been set aside for the study of the Koran. The syllabus includes Islamic subject and Hifz. The school, though, did not have its own vehicle or play area.

The District Child Protection Officer’s report said the school prioritised Islamic knowledge, while the District Police Chief recommended that the prescription of too many textbooks for the students should be looked into. The school manager denied any violation of laws by the school.

The commission did not find any violation of laws or child rights and observed that the school had a licence from the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, and hence it was not passing any special order in the case.

Many institutions in the State imparted religious education to children; they also followed their own syllabus and teaching style. However, it was the State’s responsibility to ensure that the children in those institutions were getting free and compulsory elementary education as per the RTE Act.

Article 21 A of the Constitution also promised such education. Hence, no child should be denied the opportunity to study. Local self-government bodies should ensure that such institutions provided elementary education to children.


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