There have been concerns amongst homeschoolers about the RTE Act makeing homeschooling illegal. An affidavit filed by the Government of India on July 18, 2012 in response to a writ petition (No 8870 of 2011) filed by Ms Shreya Sahay & others in Delhi High Court comes as a welcome relief. The petitioners of this landmark case are represented in the court by Advocate Somnath Bharti.
The seven page counter affidavit submitted on behalf of the respondent (Union of India and others) by Sh DP Majhi (Under Secretary, Department of School and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India) clearly states that there is nothing illegal about homeschooling and that RTE Act does not, in any way, makes home schooling illegal.
Parts of the affidavit that talk about NIOS and Homeschooling are reproduced below:
Point 10 of the affidavit
With regards to alternate education undertaken by the NIOS, it may be informed that Ministry had allowed the NIOS to continue with its Open Basic Education (OBE) for children in the 6 to 14 years age group up to march 2013. For the period beyond that, a Committee constituted by the Ministry has recommended continuation of the OBE programme of the NIOS for period beyond March 2013. The Government has further extended the OBE programme of the NIOS up to March 2015.
Point 11 of the affidavit
With regard to allowing home schooling as an alternate for of school education and the proposition that because of the RTE Act home schooling is illegal, it may be mentioned that what the RTE ACT seeks to achieve is to provide a right to children in the age of 6 to 14 years to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school. The RTE Act also vests certain responsibilities on schools other that those established, owned and managed by the appropriate Government of local authority. It needs to be clarified that the ACT is with regard to the rights of the children and does not compel children to go to a neighbourhood school. In fact under the Act, the compulsion is on the appropriate Government and the local authority to provide free and compulsory education to all children in the said age group. The compulsion therefore is not on the children but on that Government. As mentioned in the letter dated 10.1.2011 written by this Ministry to Mrs Michael P Donnelly (page 159 of the WP), parents who voluntarily opt for systems of home schooling and such 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 illegal.