On Oct 17, 2012, the Government reversed its earlier stand (referred to in the original post below) and now says home schooling is NOT permissible under the RTE Act. For more details, see new post on this. The Government will be filing a fresh affidavit on this in Delhi High Court on December 19, 2012.
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The Government has clarified in the Delhi High Court that parents interested in home schooling their children or adopting alternate forms of education are now perfectly at liberty to do so. According to a report in the Indian Express (July 20, 2012),
In response to a public interest litigation, the Ministry of Human Resources Development filed an affidavit in the Delhi High Court, which stated that
"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 Ministry’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.
The Hindustan Times (July 20, 2012) adds,
The affidavit clarifies that the Act concerns itself with the rights of children, and is not a compulsion. “The compulsion is on the appropriate government and the local authority to provide free education to all children up to 14 years,” the affidavit said.
This statement in the affidavit provides complete clarity on the connotation of the world "compulsion" in the RTE Act. The compulsion is on the state to provide free education and not on the citizens to be educated in a conventional school.
Delhi High Court Case no. W.P.(C) 8870/2011
SHREYA SAHAI AND ORS Vs. UOI AND ORS
Advocate: Somnath Bharti
(APPELLATE JURISDICTION) , COURT NO. 1 , (DIVISION BENCH-1)
HON'BLE THE ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE , HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE RAJIV SAHAI ENDLAW
Additional Respondents:Ashok Aggarwal
Central Board of Secondary Education
National Institute of Open Schooling
Association of Unaided Private Schools