Suggested Readings: Analysis | Commentary
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009 empowers children belonging to the backward section of the economy to free and compulsory education. The Right to Education Act was earlier termed as The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act came into function after Gopal Krishna Gokhale’s famous impassionate plea to the Imperial Legislative Council for introducing free and compulsory primary education throughout India. The Right to Education Act made compulsory all government and private sector schools across India to provide 25 percent reservation to children between the age group of 6 and 14 belonging to the weaker section of the country access to free and compulsory education. India became one of the 135 countries to make education a fundamental right of every child, when the act finally came into practice in April 2010.
A rough version of the draft was first prepared in the year 2005. It was met with a lot of criticism because of the large percentage of reservation made mandatory across all schools for the unprivileged children. However, the Central Advisory Board of Education, who were founders of the draft stood ground and justified the 25percent reservation as a definite requisite to become a democratic and egalitarian society.
Bill approved by the cabinet on 2 July, 2009
Bill passed by the Rajya Sabha on 20 July, 2009
Bill passed by the Lok Sabha on 4 August, 2009
Received Presidential approval and made into a law on 26 August, 2009
The law came to effect on 1 April, 2010, (except for the state of J&K), by Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh
The Right to education Act is a fundamental right which allows every child between the age group of 6 to 14 to have access to free and fare education. It requires all private and government schools to reserve 25 percent of the seats for children belonging to weaker sections of the society. The act also separates the fraudulent schools and donations and concessions have been rolled back. The act also states that no child shall be expelled, held back or required to pass a board examination until the completion of elementary education. There is also a special training of school drop-outs to bring them up at par with students of the same age.
The Right to Education act stretches to 18 years of coverage for children with disabilities, and other provisions covered in the act range from infrastructure development, teacher-student ratio and faculty are mentioned in the act. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights is an autonomous body set up to monitor the implementation of the act along with commissions set up by the States. The body in question was formed in the year 2007
Implementation & Funding
The Right to Education act has clearly laid down distinct responsibilities for the centre, state and local bodies for its implementation. However, a lot of states have been complaining about the lack of funds being received which is making it impossible to meet with the appropriate standard of education in the schools needed for universal education. Hence, the centre that is at the receiving end of the revenue will have to subsidize for the states.
A committee set up to study the fund requirement for the implementation of the act estimated an initial capital requirement of approximately Rs. 171000 crores or 1.71 trillion over 5 years, and in April 2010 the Indian government agreed to share the funding of the price at a ratio of 65 to 35 between the centre and the state and a ratio of 90 to 10 for the Northeastern states. Later the principal amount was then increased to Rs. 231000 crores and the centre agreed to raise its share to 68%. However there is much debate on this. Another important development in 2011 was to further stretch the act and implement it till the preschool age range, hence the age ceiling would rise from 14 years now to 16 years and would cover till class 10. . However this is under talks.
On completion of one year a report was released by the Human Resource Development ministry, which did not reflect happy numbers. The report admits that 8.1 million children in the age group of 4 to 16 remained out of school; there is a shortage of over 508000 teachers’ country wide. And there were several key legal commitments that were falling out of schedule. The Supreme Court of India also intervened to see the just implementation of the Right to Education Act in the Northeast States.
The Right to education act has met with a lot of criticism such as being called a draft that was hastily prepared, there was not much consultation made on the quality of education, on excluding children under the 6 year age range. Many of the schemes have been compared to that of the Sarva Sikhsha Abhivan and DPEP of the 90’s which was criticized for being ineffective and corrupted. The Right to Education Act also seems to have left out the orphans, since during the time of admission a lot of documents are required, like that of birth certificate, BPL certificates and the orphans deprived of such documents are not eligible to apply.