What’s in the news?
Development of scientific temper and spirit of enquiry by education is important and right to education is more than a right, said former Chief Justice Dipak Misra while addressing a webinar conducted by the Delhi Metropolitan Education (DME) Law School, Noida.
- Originally Part IV of Indian Constitution under Article 45 provided that the State will endeavour to provide free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years. However, being a directive principle, it was not enforceable by the courts.
- The 86 th amendment to the constitution of India in 2002, provided Right to Education as a fundamental right in part-III of the Constitution and inserted Article 21A which made Right to Education a fundamental right for children between 6-14 years and also provided of legislation which was enacted in the form of Right to Education Act 2009.
- Article 21 A makes only elementary education a Fundamental Right and not higher or professional education.
- The amendment changed the subject matter of Article 45 in directive principles. It now reads–‘The state shall endeavour to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years.’
- It also added a new fundamental duty under Article 51A that reads–‘It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to provide opportunities for education to his child or ward between the age of six and fourteen years’.
About RTE Act 2009
The RTE Act provides for the following :
- Right of children to free and compulsory education till completion of elementary education in a neighbourhood school.
- Elementary education refers to the education imparted from first class to eighth class in schools. Medium of instruction shall be the child’s mother tongue.
- It clarifies that ‘compulsory education’ means obligation for the government to provide free (‘Free’ means that no child shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education) elementary education and ensure compulsory admission, attendance and completion of elementary education to every child in the six to fourteen age group.
- It makes provisions for a non-admitted child to be admitted to an age appropriate class.
- The government schools shall provide free education to all the children and the schools will be managed by School Management Committees (SMC).
- Private schools shall admit at least 25% of the children from disadvantaged sections of the society (including SCs and STs , Socially Backward Class and Differently abled) in their schools without any fee.
- The National Commission for Elementary Education shall be constituted to monitor all aspects of elementary education including quality.
- The Right to Education Act 2009 prohibits all kinds of physical punishment and mental harassment, discrimination based on gender, caste, class and religion, screening procedures for admission of children capitation fee, private tuition centres, and functioning of unrecognised schools.
- It lays down the norms and standards relating to Pupil Teacher Ratios (PTRs), buildings and infrastructure, school-working days, teacher-working hours.
- The Central Government and the State Governments shall have concurrent responsibility for providing funds for imparting free and compulsory elementary education to children.
Challenges of Right to Education Act, 2009
- The Act allows the age group for which Right to Education is from 6 to 14 years of age only and leaves out 0-6 years and 14-18 years.
- The Enrolment ratio of girls is still low and the ratio of dropouts are more. Therefore counseling of parents and community leaders are critical to retain girls in schools, a fact that is not covered in the Act.
- There is no focus on quality of learning, as shown by multiple Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) reports, thus RTE Act appears to be mostly input oriented. Learning outcomes declined during the years that followed the legislation.
- Lack of teachers affect the pupil-teacher ratio mandated by RTE which in turn affects the quality of teaching .
- Though the RTE Act has its own flaws , it is now crucial for the Government, NGOs and the policy makers to work united in the post covid times.
- Initiatives like Swayam (one integrated platform and portal for online courses), Swayam Prabha (provides 32 High Quality Educational Channels through DTH across the length and breadth of the country on 24X7 basis) should be encouraged.
- The urban rural digital gap should be addressed and availability of internet should be ensured. Programmes like BharatNet Project (To connect all the 2,50,000 Gram panchayats in the country and provide 100 Mbps connectivity to all gram panchayats) should be encouraged.