Current Research Projects


Depriving through Licensing : How closing down an unlicensed school killed the aspirations of the poor

The Right to Education Act (RTE) aims to provide free and compulsory elementary education to all children 6 to 14 years of age. However, this well‐intentioned law unfortunately also contains a provision that works at cross‐purposes to the stated objective.

In an illogical attempt to improve quality, Sections 18 & 19 of RTE ban low cost private schools that have been operating without government recognition and is shutting them in thousands across the country. These schools typically are small in size and hence ineligible for government recognition, which requires huge infrastructure, but cater to the needs and aspirations of the communities they are located in.

The case of a school in a slum in Delhi that is on the verge of closing offers is a classic example of how a law that is meant to increase access and improve quality has come to ring the death knell for lakhs of low cost but well patronized schools serving the aspirational economically poor people of the country.

The school being studied currently provides regular schooling through dedicated and qualified teachers and state of the art teaching aids in a safe learning environment to about 100’s of students from the slum, many of whom are girl children who would not continue education if another safe school is not the alternative. The government schools in the vicinity are comparatively poor both in terms of amenities and quality of education.

Parents believe that this school provides their families with the opportunity to come out of their poverty. But their beacon of hope is soon going to die out with its impending closure. The owners of the school refuse to resort to corrupt  means to secure recognition for which, ironically, the innocent students enrolled in the school are about to be punished. Several students have already dropped out or transferred to the neighbouring government school, and many more will soon leave with their dreams shattered. Something has to be urgently done to stop this injustice. The Institute is undertaking a unique exercise to document the repercussions the shutting down of a school has on its patrons.

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Right to Safety

An environment of concern for safety of person violates all the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights of a person. It thus not only deprives a person of all her personal freedoms but also poses a serious threat to rule of law. The increase in the number of sexual assaults, especially on women and children, throughout the country suggests an urgent need for a review of the efficacy of our criminal justice system and undertake reforms to fix loopholes identified by evidence and not just perception.

The solution to the problem is not tougher laws, which usually means more discretionary power to the executive, but balanced laws that provide safety as well as liberties and proper implementation of those laws.

The Right to Safety project seeks to examine India’s preparedness to defend the right of its children and women against sexual exploitation by reviewing and analyzing legislations; procedures and processes of investigation and prosecution; approach of the judiciary in sexual assault cases; and the role of socio-economic factors. The study will also recommend policy measures based on the findings.

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