“Education is better way towards liberalization and creates peace”
Way before the beginning of the freedom movement in India the need of education had been felt by the Indian social reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Swami Vivekananda, Jugul Kisore Sukul etc. Also, the leaders of the freedom movement of India recognized the role of education. Indians with vast diversity in society and social structure were good in indigenous education but there were a large number of draw backs in social structure. It may be due to our social structure that is divided according to Karmic connections, which took the shape of inequality in society and created a huge gap between the education level of rich and poor; between the Sawarns and the so called Dalits/backward classes. Although the provision of reservation was introduced in the Indian Constitution to remove this inequality and it got success to some extent but still we have a long way ahead in this direction.
After the educational reforms all around the world there was a strong feeling in Indian political and social sectors that the education should be a basic right of human and as a result Indian Government introduced the bill “The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act” or “Right to Education Act (RTE)”, which was passed by the Indian parliament on 4 August 2009, describes the modalities of the provision of free and compulsory education to the children between 6 and 14 in India under Article 21A of the Indian Constitution. India joined the group of 135 countries to make education a fundamental right of every child when the act came into force on 1 April 2010.
After the enactment of this law the right to education is universal entitlement to children within 6-14 age groups, a right that is recognized as a human right. According to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights the right to education includes the right to free, compulsory primary education for all, an obligation to develop secondary education accessible to all, in particular by the progressive introduction of free secondary education, as well as an obligation to develop equitable access to higher education, ideally by the progressive introduction of free higher education. The right to education also includes a responsibility to provide basic education for individuals who have not completed primary education. In addition to these access to education provisions, the right to education encompasses the obligation to rule out discrimination at all levels of the educational system, to set minimum standards and to improve quality of education.
The right to education act is separated into three levels:
– Primary (Elemental or Fundamental) Education: This shall be compulsory and free for any child regardless of their nationality, gender, place of birth, or any other discrimination. Upon ratifying the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, states must provide free primary education within two years.
– Secondary (or Elementary, Technical and Professional in the UDHR) Education must be generally available and accessible.
– Higher Education (at the University Level) should be provided according to capacity. That is, anyone who meets the necessary education standards should be able to go to university.
Both secondary and higher education shall be made accessible “by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education”.
The realisation of the right to education on a national level may be achieved through compulsory education, or more specifically free compulsory primary education, as stated in both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Highlights of the Indian Bill:
– The 86th Constitution Amendment Act, 2002 requires the State to provide free and compulsory elementary education to all children. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2008 seeks to give effect to this Amendment. All children between the ages of six and 14 years shall have the right to free and compulsory elementary education in a neighbourhood school.
– No child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until the completion of elementary education. Schools may not screen applicants during admission or charge capitation fees. A child who completes elementary education shall be awarded a certificate.
– Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas, Sainik Schools, and unaided schools shall admit at least 25% of students from disadvantaged and economically weaker groups.
– A person who wants to file a grievance claim shall submit a written complaint to the local authority. Appeals shall be decided by either the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights or the specified authority.
– “Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan” will provide free education, educational materials and food too in day time in schools.
Key Issues and Analysis:
– There are no specific penalties if the authorities fail to provide the right to elementary education.
– Both the state government and the local authority have the duty to provide free and compulsory elementary education. Sharing of this duty may lead to neither government being held accountable.
– The Bill provides for the right to schooling and physical infrastructure but does not guarantee that children learn. It exempts government schools from any consequences if they do not meet the specified norms.
– The constitutional validity of reservations of seats in private schools for economically weaker sections could be challenged which violation of Article 19(1).
– Minority schools are not exempt from provisions in this Bill. It is possible that this will conflict with Article 30 of the Constitution, which allows minorities to set up and administer educational institutions.
– The Bill legitimises the practice of multi-grade teaching. The number of teachers shall be based on the number of students rather than by grade.
Now the question arises whether RTE can bring a drastic change in the level of education in India or it would only be another law in the crowd of several similar legislation and programmes? Let’s have a look at the Government’s ambitious project ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan” that was introduced with a motive to provide quality education to the children within the age group of 6-14 years. Presently most of the primary schools governed by government either don’t have faculty or have corruption. Teacher-student ratio is exceptionally high. There is free-flowing corruption in education sector. Whether it be distribution of free uniform and books to poor students or it be Mid-day meal scheme, corruption has overshadowed them.
The solution of a problem does not lies in making schemes and introducing new provisions only but the significant part is the implementation of the same. It has been seen in the current session that there are not sufficient candidates to fill the 25% quota reserved for the poor students in the private school of Delhi. If this is the condition of national capital then one can imagine that what would be the condition in other areas.
However, not much time have passed after implementation of law therefore being sceptic about the success of it would not be right and by moving in a right direction, a lot can be achieved. Need is to make people aware of the provisions of this Act and ensure the strict implementation of the provisions of this law by government as well as private schools by proper monitoring.
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This article has also been published at the author’s blogÂ here[box bg=”#fdf78c” color=”#000″]About the author: Â Satyendra Tripathi is a climate change researcher in BITS-Pilani, Hyderabad. A social and environmental activist, and associated with Prabuddha Bharat Sangh, Bhartiyam Science Society. You can contact him atÂ [email protected].[/box]