The right to education recognised as a human right is understood to establish a free primary education for all children. It is an obligation to provide all children with secondary education and access to higher education.
The right to an education is not only a fundamental right but also a human right. The right to education seeks to eliminate discrimination at all levels of the educational system, establish minimum standards, and improve educational quality.
As a human right, the right to education is the most fundamental. Education promotes a man as an individual, and it demonstrates a way of life, changes one’s thinking, and makes one wise.
A brief on the Right to Education
The Parliament of India implemented the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) on August 4, 2009. RTE act illustrates the modalities of the importance of free and compulsory education for children aged 6 to 14 in India under Article 21a of the Indian Constitution according to the 86th amendment to India’s Constitution.
On April 1, 2010, India became one of 135 countries to make education a fundamental right for all children when the Act went into effect.
The Act establishes education as a fundamental right for all children between 6 and 14 and establishes minimum standards for elementary schools. It requires all private schools to set aside 25% of their seats for children.
Evolution of Right to Education in India
The rationale behind compulsory and free education
The process of learning and gaining knowledge at school commonly gets referred to as education. It’s the fundamental human right, emphasised at the United Nations through various international covenants and treaties.
Education also gets viewed as a mechanism of social revolution. Thus education leads to empowerment, which is critical for a country like India, as, despite the constitutional mandate, India has not been able to eradicate illiteracy after 65 years of independence.
Education in the Vedic period
- Under the Vedic Education system, the essential stages in developing an individual’s personality were physical, moral, intellectual, religious, and spiritual.
- However, following the Varna System, only the highest three Castes, namely Brahmans, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas, were permitted to realise knowledge. The Sudras, among the oppressed classes, were denied the privilege of studying the Holy Scriptures and thus had no right to learn.
- As a result, education during the Vedic period was notorious for its lack of social inclusivity.
- Education primarily got regarded as a privilege reserved for those at the upper end of the caste and class spectrum until the nineteenth century.
Education in the Medieval period
- During the Middle Ages, The Muslim kings of the Indian Subcontinent never considered education- a fundamental function of the state.
- The main goal of the Muslim rulers’ educational system was to make knowledge, the spread of Islamic culture and religion, character development, loyalty to the king, learning of arts, skill development, and so on available only to a select few.
- The position of the oppressed classes did not improve during the medieval period to raise their educational standard. In short, education was a privilege available only to a select few in ancient and medieval India.
Education under the British Rule
The Right to Education Act of 2009 has its origins in colonial India, when education policies gradually evolved. They arose primarily for the benefit of the colonial administration, which required inexpensive local clerks rather than any benevolent desire to develop Indian society.
Macaulay was an ardent Anglicist who despised Indian learning in any form.
- He believed in educating a select group of upper and middle-class students.
Sir Charles Wood, a company’s President of the Board of Control in 1854, sent a despatch to Lord Dalhousie.
- Regularise the educational system from primary to university levels.
- Indians were to get educated in both English and their mother tongue.
- Every province was supposed to have its educational system.
- There should be at least one government school in every district.
- Granting aids to affiliated private schools
- Prioritisation of women education
- By 1857, universities in Madras, Calcutta, and Bombay got established.
- The University of Punjab got founded in 1882, and the University of Allahabad got established in 1887.
This dispatch requested that the government take on the responsibility of public education.
Key features of the RTE Act
- All children in India between the ages of 6 and 14 are entitled to free and compulsory education.
- Admission requires the following proof of age:
The child’s age for admission to elementary school shall be determined by the birth certificate issued following the Provisions of Birth, Deaths, and Marriages Registration Act 1856 or by such other documents may be prescribed.
No child shall get refused admission to a school due to a lack of proof of age.
- Distribution of certificate to a child who has completed elementary school
- Take needful action for the establishment of a fixed student-teacher ratio
- There will be a 25% reservation for admission to Class I for economically disadvantaged communities in all private schools.
- School teachers will need an adequate professional degree within the next five years or risk losing their jobs.
- School infrastructure (where there is a problem) must be improved every three years, or recognition will get revoked.
- The state and federal governments will share the financial burden.
RTE Education Portal
Significant Features of the RTE Portal:
- A child shall get awarded a certificate if he or she completes his elementary education.
- For a fixed student-teacher ratio, a call is to be taken.
- For taking admission in private schools, there should be a 25 per cent ratio reservation for the economically disadvantaged communities.
- To improve the quality of education.
- The school teachers must have adequate professional degrees.
- Every three years, the school infrastructure will need to be improved.
- The state and the central government will share a financial burden.
Importance of the Right to Education (RTE Act)
Education for all
Despite improvements in education for both children and adults, the number of illiterates remains the same as during the independence.
As a Directive Principle of the constitution which is of the key features of the Indian Constitution, free and compulsory education for children up to 14 got established within ten years of the constitution’s inception. The following are the factors that make education a pipe dream for everyone:
- Gender bias
- Low rural access
- The increasing number of illiterates
- Low expenditure on education by the government
Improving Gender Equality
Gender disparities are narrowing, which can be seen in literacy rates, indicating progress toward gender equality. There is still much work to be done to promote women’s education. There are several reasons for this, including:
- The social status of women
- Healthcare of women and children
- Improving economic independence
People in India face significant challenges in advancing to higher levels of education under the current educational system.
According to National Sample Survey Organization data,
- The unemployment rate for youth with secondary education was 18.10 per cent in the fiscal year 2007-08. In contrast,
- The unemployment rate for young people with only a primary education was only 11.60 per cent.
The government should prioritise higher education allocation and student improvement.
RTE Act Rules and Regulations
Universal and free education for all
In India, the government should provide free and compulsory elementary education to all children up to the eighth grade in a neighbourhood school within one kilometre of their home. No child is required to pay any fees or other charges that would prevent them from pursuing and completing elementary education.
The benchmark mandate
The Right to Education Act establishes norms and standards for pupil-teacher ratios classrooms, separate toilets for girls and boys, drinking water facilities, the number of school-working days, teacher working hours, etc.
Special provisions for special cases
The Right to Education Act requires that a child who is not in school be admitted to an age-appropriate class and receive special training to enable the child to reach an age-appropriate learning level.
Zero tolerance against discrimination and harassment
The RTE Act 2009 prohibits all forms of:
- physical and mental harassment,
- discrimination based on gender, caste, class, or religion,
- screening procedures for children’s admission,
- capitation fees,
- private tuition centres, and
- the operation of unrecognised schools.
Rights of Children and Students under the RTE Act
Rights of children in India:
- No child shall get refused admission to a school due to a lack of proof of age.
- A child shall be accepted to a school at the beginning of the academic year or within such extended term as may be specified; however, no child shall be denied enrollment if such admission is sought after the extended deadline has ended.
- No child admitted to a school shall be held back in any class until he or she has completed elementary education.
Eligibility as per the RTE act:
- The age eligibility for students ranges from 6 to 14 years old, with 25% of seats reserved for the poorest sections of society under this policy.
- The student must be an Indian citizen to apply.
- A family with an annual income of Rs. 3.5 lakh or less is eligible to apply for seats under the RTE Act.
- Under the RTE Act, orphans, children with special needs, children of migrant workers, and children of street workers are all eligible for admission.
Free Education in India
Education is the foundation of our prosperous future. Because not everyone can afford education, it should be free to all. Fees for schools and universities are now prohibitively expensive.
The majority of parents work hard to provide their children with an education. However, a large number of people are unable to do so because their finances are insufficient. Children who want to study are unable to do so. It is a problem that many families face.
Every child has the right to an education, but not every child is born into a financially stable family. As members of the postmodern era of civilised and educated individuals, we can do our part by establishing private institutions where we can teach the slum children of our community for free. These small steps can lead to more enormous changes on a larger scale.
Significant Challenges faced by Education System in India
The following are the significant difficulties that the Indian education system faces:
- Expense on education
- Expensive higher education:
- Capacity utilisation
- Infrastructure facilities
- Wastage of resources:
- General education-oriented
- Student-teacher ratio
Reasons Why Education Should be free in India
- Free education can aid in the reduction of existential nuclear, poverty, etc.
- Because most of the country is not e-literate, a large portion of the population is lagging far behind due to booming technology and education moving primarily online.
- To overcome ignorance and blind orthodoxy among Indians
- Education is critical and should be available to all citizens, regardless of financial means.
- Free education would encourage more parents to enrol their children in educational institutions instead of forcing them to work in factories and ruin their entire childhood.
- Most Indians, particularly those from lower-income families, have more than two children. As a result, paying for their education becomes extremely difficult for the family’s earning members. As a result, free education will be a practical method of imparting education.
It is where the importance of RTE ACT 2009 comes into play.
Case Study Involving RTE Act:
Story of Akangsha
- Akangsha More, 4, is enrolled in the nursery class of a local public school under the reserved quota in Dausa district, 55 kilometres east of Jaipur city, Rajasthan’s state capital. She sits on the terrace of their school, which is still under construction, with her eyes closed, to meditate with her classmates.
- Her parents both work as labourers in Jaipur, and the child lives with her grandparents, who are cobblers. Akangsha has a chance to get a good education thanks to a provision in the Right to Education (RTE) Act of 2009 that seeks a 25% reservation in private schools for children from low-income families.
- In a country where it is not uncommon to find instances of discrimination against the weaker sections of society, the government has enacted the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, which, as the name implies, ensures free and compulsory education for children aged 6 to 14 years.
- Students like Akangsha enrolled due to extensive advocacy efforts by Education Department officials and non-governmental organisations that have reached out to schools and the community to inform them about the provision.
This initiative has so far involved 14,555 schools and benefited 1,40,000 children. There are 58.9 per cent boys and 41.1 per cent girls among them.
- When Dr Anoop Singh, the school’s director, sees them, he smiles and says, “I’m happy to say the students we’ve admitted under the RTE provision are extremely hardworking and scoring good grades.” Divya Nair, a nursery teacher, agrees with Singh, saying, “The RTE concept is gradually working.” We’re overjoyed with how far we’ve come.”
RTE Act 2019
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Act, 2019, passed by Parliament on January 3, 2019, received the President of India’s assent on January 10, 2019. It has now got published in the Indian Gazette.
The bill aims to repeal the no-detention policy in schools. The Lok Sabha already passed the bill in July 2018.
According to the Union HRD Minister, the main goal of the move is to rebuild the country’s education system, which is currently broken. He went on to say that teacher training, quality, and accountability are crucial and that while there is no shortage of teachers, their deployment is inefficient.
Education is a tool for empowerment, and the RTE Act is a good start. The task is complex, and the scheme will get revised based on practical experience. All stakeholders should take a positive approach and try to put it into action. Universal education will take its own time, and the first step should be to provide an excellent education to all who desire it.
Even if the learning outcomes are below expectations, children wearing a clean uniform and attending school have advantages. Instead of running around in the street or riding trains up and down without tickets, education teaches good behaviour.
Is RTE a fundamental right?
The Indian government introduced the Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act to counteract this alarming trend, declaring education a basic right for every child aged 6 to 14. The right to an education is a fundamental human right that applies to everyone.
Is the right to education applicable to private schools?
The Karnataka High Court issued a decision on the Right to Education (RTE), stating that admission to private unaided schools will be permitted if and only if there are no aided private or government schools in one's neighborhood.
In which year was the RTE Act amended?
According to the Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act of 2002, all children aged six to fourteen years have the Fundamental Right to free and compulsory education, as determined by law by the Indian Government.
Why is RTE important?
This Act requires the government to ensure the admission, attendance, and completion of elementary education for all children between six and fourteen. Essentially, this Act guarantees free elementary education to all children from economically disadvantaged families.
What is the full form of NAC?
The NAC full form in education is the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs.
It is a national accreditation programme that allows early childhood leaders to demonstrate and document quality performance through evidence-based practices and research-based criteria. The accreditation got designed for early care and education programmes that use professionalism and quality in child care.