This article is authored by Pankhuri Pankaj, a 3rd-year student pursuing BA-LLB (Hons.) from Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, affiliated to GGSIPU. She is currently interning with Lexpeeps. This article summarises certain key provisions of the “Right to Education Act” and is qualified in its entirety by reference to the Right to Education Act, 2009.
It is not so hidden fact that in our country India educational challenges have been quite prevalent at both the centre and states for many years now. The RTE Act or the Right to Education Act, 2009 which was enacted by the parliament of India on the 4th of August 2009 and came into effect on 1st of April 2010 describes the modalities of the importance of free and compulsory education for children under Article 21(A) of the Constitution. With this act, India became the 135th country in the world to make education a fundamental right for every child between the age of 6 to 14 years.
This act focuses on making the child free of fear, trauma and anxiety through a system of child-friendly and child-centred learning and aims at identifying children who are eligible for receiving an education but do not have the means to by keeping a check through regular surveys on all neighbourhoods. It prescribes minimum norms for elementary schools, prohibits unrecognised schools from practice and advocates against donation fees and interviews of children at the time of admission.
FEATURES OF THE RTE ACT
1. The RTE Act enforced under Article 21(A) deals with providing primary education to all children between the ages of 6 to 14 years and provides a provision for admitting the unfortunate non-admitted children to an age-appropriate class.
2. It also mandates a 25% reservation for disadvantaged sections of the community like the Socially backward class, differently-abled and the SC/STs and lays down the provision of sharing of financial responsibilities between the Centre and the State.
3. The act deals with laying down norms and standards related to provisions like PTRs, School-working days, Teacher-working hours, Buildings and infrastructure, etcetera, and provides for the appointment of teachers with the requisite entry and academic qualifications only.
4. Along with adding a few provisions this act has worked at the prohibition of some activities as well like: the No Detention Policy has been removed, deployment of teachers for non-educational work has been prohibited, and physical punishment and mental harassment have been prohibited in addition to screening procedures for admission, capitation fee, private tuition by teachers, and running of school without recognition.
5. The Act works at improving learning outcomes to minimise detention and introduced the Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) system to ensure grade-appropriate learning outcomes in school. It also includes that all schools covered under this act are obligated to constitute a School Management Committee (SMC) consisting of a head teacher, local elected representative, parents, community members etc. The committees have been empowered to monitor the functioning of schools and to prepare school development plans.
ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE RTE ACT
1. This Act has made education inclusive and accessible nationwide and managed to increase upper primary level children successfully and more than 3.3 million students were able to secure admission under the 25% quota norm under the act.
2. The act has been able to improve school infrastructure, especially in the rural areas, by enstating stricter infrastructure norms.
3. The removal of the ¨no detention policy¨ under the RTE Act has been able to bring accountability in the elementary education system leading to the better educational experience for the students.
4. In addition to the Act, the Government also launched the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan which is an integrated scheme for school education. This scheme is known to subsume the three scheme of school education, namely: The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the Rashtriya Mashyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), and the Centrally Sponsored Scheme on Teacher Education (CSSTE).
LIMITATIONS OF THE RTE ACT
1. The prescribed age group which ranges between the ages of 6-14 leaves the age groups from 0-6 and 14-18 at a disadvantage making many start education late or quitting high school after completing the age of 14 due to financial instability.
2. Even though the act focuses on providing a better environment for studying but no focus has been shed on the quality of learning and thus, the act appears to be mostly input-oriented only.
3. The notification regarding the 25% seats for the underprivileged children of the society under the RTE Act has not been issued to five states, namely: Goa, Manipur, Sikkim, Mizoram, and Telangana.
4. The lack of teachers has resulted in affecting the pupil to teacher ratio in the schools mandated by the RTE Act which in turn has resulted in affecting the quality of teaching in the schools.
After being in action for 11 years now it is visible to a naked eye that the RTE Act has most definitely been able to bring some major changes in the society and has been somewhat successful in reaching some of its goals, but it is also the bitter truth that it still has a long way to go to be called successful in its purpose. The RTE act was able to bring a hospitable environment for the children to study in but the quality of education still needs to be delivered. The need for more focus on teacher training programs has become important and the quality of education needs to be emphasized over quantity of education. The bottom line is that society as a whole needs to be supportive of education for children without biases.
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