RTE not against home schooling and alternate education: MHRD

In response to a public interest litigation, the Ministry of Human Resources Development on Thursday filed an affidavit in the Delhi High Court stating that the Right to Education Act does not come in the way of home schooling.

The affidavit, however, said National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) for children in the age group of 6-14 years will only be allowed to run up to 2015.

"Parents who voluntarily opt for alternate forms of schooling may continue to do so. The RTE Act does not come in the way of such alternate schooling methodologies or declare such form of education as illegal," the affidavit stated.

The Minsitry's response came after the High Court directed it to respond to a petition filed by a 14-year-old girl, Shreya Sahai, who opted for home schooling but contended that Section 18 of RTE Act does not recognise any other mode of imparting education except the one through formal schooling.

"The benefits of all children aged 6-14 years and their parents who feel threatened because their right to choose a mode of education for primary education stands violated as the Act restricts the same only to a formal school," she said.

All other modes of imparting education, except a formal school, like home schooling, alternate schools of education and the schools not subscribing to the norms and curriculum mandated in the Act stand declared illegal under sections 18 and 19 of the Act, said the petition.

"Subscribers of the academics check tests conducted by the government-established NIOS feel threatened of the discontinuance of the same in view of the impugned Act," the petitioner said.

The petition sought the court's direction to quash the RTE provisions as they are violative of the fundamental rights of children, the petition said. It also asked for home-schooling and alternate education schools to be included in the "specified category" and also allow NIOS continue imparting education to children.

The matter will come up for hearing on August 8.

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