An Analysis On Right To Education (RTE)

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Index 

  1. Introduction 
  2. What Is Right To Education 
  3. History And Origin 
  4. Features Of Right To Education 
  5. Educational Hurdles And Implications 
  6. Articles To Acknowledge That Promotes Education Laws
  7. What Is 86th Constitutional Amendment
  8. Government Initiatives And Schemes For Higher Education And Skill Development Beyond 14 Years Of Age
  9. General Advice
  10. Conclusion 

Introduction 

It is disheartening that only half of India’s children aged 6-14 attend school, with 3 million in this age group not receiving education. Moreover, globally, 70 million children are deprived of schooling each day. This article delves into the fundamental importance of education as a human right, explores the challenges faced in India’s educational landscape, discusses associated rights, legislative acts, and various constitutional aspects.

India is home to 19% of the world’s children, showcasing its significant youth population. However, it also bears the burden of hosting one-third of the global illiterate population. Despite efforts to improve literacy rates, the progress has been slow, with a decline from 12.6% between 1991 to 2001 to 9.21% thereafter.

Addressing these pressing challenges, the Indian government enacted the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE), establishing education as a fundamental right for children aged 6-14. This Act, passed on August 4, 2009, underscores the crucial role of free and compulsory education in India. By implementing this act, India joined the ranks of 135 countries worldwide that guarantee the right to education under Article 21A of the Constitution to every child. The act took effect on April 1, 2010.

What Is Right To Education 

The Right to Education (RTE) in India is a fundamental right guaranteed to every child between the ages of 6 to 14 years under Article 21-A of the Indian Constitution. It ensures that every child has the right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school up to the elementary stage. The RTE Act, enacted in 2009, aims to provide equitable access to quality education, eliminate discrimination in educational opportunities, improve educational outcomes, and enhance the overall educational system in India.

Under the roadmap outlined by the central government for implementing the Right to Education Act, every child from first grade to eighth grade will receive free textbooks and uniforms, provided the state also agrees to this plan.

History And Origin 

Here’s the timeline regarding education policy and legislative developments in India :

  1. 1950: The Constitution of India, through Article 45 as a directive principle of state policy, aimed to provide free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of fourteen within ten years of the Constitution’s inception.
  2. 1968: The First National Commission for Education, led by Dr. Kothari was established, proposing significant changes such as a uniform syllabus for boys and girls, compulsory mathematics and science subjects, and advocating for a common school system.
  3. 1976: A constitutional amendment made education a concurrent subject, shared responsibility between the central and state governments.
  4. 1986: The National Policy on Education (NPE) advocated for a Common School System (CSS), but its implementation remained pending.
  5. 1991: Myron Wiener authored “The Child and State in India: Child Labor & Education,” highlighting the state’s failure to eradicate child labour and enforce compulsory education.
  6. 1993: In the cases of Mohini Jain and Unnikrishnan vs. State of Andhra Pradesh, the Supreme Court ruled that the right to education is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
  7. 1997: A constitutional amendment was introduced, making education a fundamental right.
  8. 2002: The 86th Constitution Amendment of 2002 introduced Article 21-A, mandating free and compulsory education for children aged six to fourteen, and amended Article 45 to include early childhood care and free education up to the age of six. Additionally, a new fundamental duty was added under Article 51A(K).
  9. 2005: The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) committee submitted a report for drafting the Right to Education Bill.
  10. 2009: The Right to Education Bill was approved by the cabinet, passed by the Lok Sabha on August 4, 2009, and by the Rajya Sabha on July 20, 2009. It became law on September 3, 2009, as The Children’s Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, RTE 2009.
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After numerous rounds of meetings, drafts, and revisions, the Right to Education Act was created as a genuine tool to meet the fundamental requirement and ensure social justice for every child. This policy operates on the basis of the 4A’s, defining what education signifies for individuals and their current circumstances within this framework.

  1. Availability: This denotes that education should be free, with the government obligated to provide funding, employ expert and well-qualified teachers, and establish adequate infrastructure to support the educational system effectively.
  2. Accessibility: Education should be accessible to all, without any form of discrimination, especially aiming to support the marginalised sections of society.
  3. Acceptability: Education should be valued appropriately, without discrimination and culturally acceptable, ensuring quality standards. Schools should provide a safe environment, with well-qualified teachers.
  4. Adaptability: Education should evolve dynamically to meet the changing needs of society and its people, contributing to overcoming inequalities such as gender discrimination.

Features Of Right To Education 

Key features of the Right to Education Act include:

  1. Mandatory and completely free education for all children aged 6 to 14 in India.
  2. No child can be expelled, failed, or required to pass a board exam until completing elementary education.
  3. Children above 6 years not admitted or completing elementary education should be placed in age-appropriate classes and given special training if needed. They have the right to free education until completing elementary education, even beyond 14 years.
  4. Proof of age for admission can be a birth certificate or other specified documents. Lack of proof should not prevent admission.
  5. Upon completing elementary education, children receive a certificate.
  6. Maintaining a fixed student-teacher ratio and ensuring regular attendance.
  7. Private schools must reserve 25% of seats in Class I for economically disadvantaged and weaker communities.
  8. Emphasis on continuous improvement in education quality.
  9. Teachers must have appropriate professional qualifications within five years or risk job loss.
  10. School infrastructure must be upgraded every three years. Failure to do so may lead to school derecognition.
  11. Financial responsibility shared between the central and state governments due to education being a concurrent subject.

Educational Hurdles And Implications 

Despite the establishment of the right to education as a fundamental right, it still undergoes a parliamentary process and is expected to soon become a tangible reality, marking a significant stride for a nation that has grappled with policy failures for a decade. Education, as evident, is neither cheap nor inherently free or compulsory. The move towards legislative enactment represents a pivotal shift in state-backed educational provisions, particularly benefiting disadvantaged groups historically neglected by provisions that have consistently failed to safeguard the interests of minority communities.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that those excluded from education often experience pronounced inequalities across social, political, and economic dimensions, rooted in factors such as caste, class, and gender. The margins of exclusion are prominently reflected in occupational and social stratifications.

The persistent challenge hindering India’s progress in reducing illiteracy rates, particularly among women and girls, stems from a significant gap between policy discussions, implementation frameworks, and developmental efforts. Despite constitutional commitments to equality, especially in education, India has struggled to bridge the gap in providing equal educational opportunities for all. 

This disparity is more pronounced in rural areas, exacerbating the challenges for women. Poverty further compounds these issues, with over two-thirds of India’s population living below the poverty line. Despite efforts to make primary education free, many families are reluctant to send their children to school due to factors like distance from villages or the need for children to contribute to household income by working.

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Articles To Acknowledge That Promotes Education Laws

  1. Article 28: Purpose: Article 28 of the Indian Constitution aims to ensure that no religious instruction is provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds. It prohibits the imparting of religious education in educational institutions funded by the State.
  2. Article 29: Equality in Educational Institutions: Article 29 guarantees the right to equality of opportunity in educational institutions for all citizens. It ensures that no citizen is denied admission to any educational institution on grounds of religion, race, caste, language, or any other social status.
  3. Article 30: Minority Rights: Article 30 recognizes the right of minorities, whether based on religion or language, to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. It safeguards the educational rights of linguistic and religious minorities in India.
  4. Article 45: Early Childhood Care and Education: Article 45 of the Indian Constitution directs the State to provide early childhood care and education for children below the age of six years. It emphasises the importance of early childhood education for the holistic development of children.
  5. Article 46: Promotion of Educational and Economic Interests: Article 46 focuses on the promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and other weaker sections of society. It highlights the State’s responsibility to uplift the educational and economic status of marginalised communities.
  6. Article 337: Special Provisions for Scheduled Tribes: Article 337 empowers the President to direct that any particular Act of Parliament or any existing law shall not apply to Scheduled Tribes or apply with specified modifications and exceptions. It allows for special provisions to be made for the welfare and advancement of Scheduled Tribes in India.
  7. Article 350B of the Indian Constitution pertains to the Special Officer for linguistic minorities. It mandates the appointment of a Special Officer for linguistic minorities by the President of India to safeguard the rights and interests of linguistic minority groups.
  8. Article 351 of the Indian Constitution deals with the directive for the promotion of the Hindi language. It states that it shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread and development of the Hindi language so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India.

What Is 86th Constitutional Amendment 

The 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002 introduced three amendments aimed at enhancing the effectiveness and comprehension of the right to free and compulsory education for children aged six to fourteen (6-14)

These amendments include:

  1. The addition of Article 21A to Part III of the Indian Constitution, affirming every child’s right to free and compulsory education of equitable quality, subject to certain norms and standards.
  2. The modification of Article 45, emphasising the State’s responsibility to ensure early childhood care and free and compulsory education for all children until they reach six years of age.
  3. The introduction of a new clause, (K), under Article 51A, which imposes a fundamental duty on parents or guardians to provide educational opportunities to their children or wards aged between six to fourteen years.

Government Initiatives And Schemes For Higher Education And Skill Development Beyond 14 Years Of Age

Governments worldwide recognize the role of higher education and skill development in shaping the future workforce and fostering economic growth. Consequently, they have implemented various initiatives and schemes aimed at individuals beyond 14 years of age who cannot afford education, to equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills for their professional journeys. Some of these initiatives include:

  1. Scholarships and Financial Assistance: The government offers scholarships and financial aid programs to support students, especially at higher levels of education, ensuring that financial constraints do not hinder their educational pursuits.
  2. Skill Development and Vocational Training: Several schemes focus on providing skill development and vocational training programs to equip students with practical skills that enhance their employability and economic opportunities.
  3. Special Schemes for SC/ST Students: Programs like the Prerana Scheme for SC/ST Students for Higher Education aim to provide financial assistance and support to students from marginalised communities to pursue higher education.
  4. Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme: This scheme supports SC/ST students who aspire to start their own businesses or startups by providing financial assistance of ₹20 Lakhs.
  5. AICTE Saksham Scheme: This scholarship program is designed to assist specially-abled students pursuing degree-level education by providing financial aid of ₹50,000 per year for up to 3 years of study.
  6. National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS): This government initiative promotes apprenticeship in India by providing financial incentives to employers hiring apprentices and offering basic training.
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General Advice 

The transition from the Common School System (CSS) to a Model School System (MSS) is essential given the evolving nature of society. Education should be provided free of cost through partnerships with private institutions under the MSS model.

Parents play a crucial role in the success of the RTE policy, and the government should mandate this as a fundamental duty for guardians and parents. Awareness campaigns through media, pamphlets, rallies, and counselling sessions are necessary to educate people about the RTE Act and its significance for future generations.

Initiatives like mid-day meals, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), supported by organisations like UNICEF, have significantly increased enrollment rates and provided basic education to Indian children. However, more focus is needed on economically backward, female, and highly populous states to improve the quality of education under this act.

Local authorities and governing bodies should play an active role in ensuring the enrollment of newborn babies and maintaining their records for timely registration and admission to nearby schools. Severe penalties should be imposed for any misuse or abuse of the RTE Act, and responsibilities of all stakeholders, including central and state governments, teachers, parents, administrators, and school owners, must be clearly defined. It should be mandatory for government employees to enrol their children in government or government-aided schools to promote these institutions.

Conclusion 

Education typically constitutes around 5% of a country’s GDP, supporting social transformation and providing opportunities for individuals to develop fully. It’s a powerful tool that can propel someone forward who might otherwise be left behind. The UN and organisations like UNICEF, UNESCO, and Amnesty International have made significant efforts to promote the right to education globally, with India becoming the 135th country to enact this law.

Through the 86th constitutional amendment, the Indian Parliament made the right to education a fundamental right under Article 21-A, further solidifying this with the Right to Education Act. This act ensures free and compulsory education for children aged 6-14 and holds state and local bodies accountable for its implementation. However, India’s literacy rate is still a work in progress, and more initiatives and policies regarding the right to education are needed to continue this upward trend and propel India into a developed nation.

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