ToMr. Kapil SibalHon’ble Minister for Human Resources Development,Ministry of Human Resources DevelopmentGovernment of IndiaThe Rajya Sabha on 23rd April 2012 passed amendments to the RTE Act 2009. Asignificant number of these amendments are concerned with the education ofchildren with disabilities. One amendment in particular talks about giving the choiceof home based education to children with multiple disabilities and to children withsevere disabilities.“Provided that a child with multiple disabilities referred to in clause (h) ofsection 2 of the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, CerebralPalsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999 and a child withsevere disability referred to in clause (o) of section 2 of the National Trust forWelfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation andMultiple Disabilities Act, 1999 may also have the right to opt for home-basededucation”.We oppose this amendment and would like to point out providing home basededucation as an option to school education for children with multiple and severedisabilities is an extremely retrogressive step which will have huge negativerepercussions on the rights of children in education. It is watering down of thefundamental right to education that every child has in our country and goes againstthe very spirit of the RTE Act which is formalising education and building standardsfor quality.We urge the Hon Minister of HRD, Shri Kapil Sibal to reconsider this amendment tothe Act. Our reasons are as follows.Children with disabilities are the single largest group of out of school children whichwas 34.19% in 2005 and remained 34.12% in 2009 according to the SRI-IMRBstudy. Children with disabilities are the largest group of out of school children even incomparison to other groups like SC, ST and Muslim population.In such a situation giving an option of the home based education will serve to pushout the child from the system. Field experience shows that children with disabilitieshave been consistently pushed out of the system. Parents of children who arevulnerable are unlikely to be in an equitable relationship with the education system.They are unlikely to be able exercise choice given the resistance the system alreadyhas to their children.If today we legitimize home based education, we will roll back in time and juststrengthen the push out factors for all children who are vulnerable within the system
Such an option is likely to foster, great social isolation, exclusion fromcommunity and peers and devalue the child. It is likely to exclude the childfrom many other entitlements and also to expose the child to a lack ofprotection that social isolation brings. The quality of life of any child will beseriously compromised if we isolate them in the home.The label of severe and profound disability on a child is a deeply questionablepractice in our country. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons withDisabilities which India has ratified rejects the purely medical parameters thatIndia uses to label children and people with disabilities.All laws relating to persons with disabilities are being either amended orrewritten at this time even in our own country. It is unclear to us why theMHRD has chosen to use concepts and thinking that is now changing.By legitimising home based education we are legitimising non formaleducation for one set of children in the law that outlines a fundamental right inour country. We see this as a grave injustice to the right of the child to alegitimate education.