rtiTowards awareness | Experts will teach students and train faculty too

 Ashutosh Shukla @scribeashutosh

There is some good news for all those who want to file RTI applications. The department of civics and politics of the University of Mumbai will start a certificate course on RTI from the new academic year in July-August. To be in both English and Marathi, it will have a batch of 30 students. The course curriculum has been finalised and it has been moved for approval.

“The course will be of three months or 72 hours. We feel such a course was required because there is a need for transparency. It will not only be helpful to RTI activists but also to others in creating awareness about the Act. The curriculum will have details about the Act, teach how to file applications and other procedural aspects,” said Surendra Jondhale, head of department of civics and politics.

The curriculum is being formed with the help of former central information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, Bhaskar Prabhu of the Mahitit Adhikar Manch, an organisation that creates awareness on RTI and Venkatesh Nayak of Access to Information Programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, who has been part of the RTI movement. They will also be training the faculty besides being part of it.

“We will tell people about the history of RTI, the impact and its necessity, transparency and accountability and the role of various bodies on how it came about from starting as a movement in a remote place. We will also teach how to use the Act for social audits and monitoring of section 4. Towards the end, they will be given topics to file RTIs,” said Prabhu.

The educational qualification is yet to be finalised for the course. While some feel it should be around standard 12, some others feel those having completed standard 10 should also be allowed.

The department is expecting the first batch of students to be out by October 12, which is the day the Act was put to implementation.