Law · Society

Right to Education

Shraddha Tiwari talks about Right to Education.

INTRODUCTION

Education as an entity in viewed essentially for all. It is fundamental to a nation’s all round development, material and spiritual.[1] This makes education a necessity for not only an individual but to a larger extent of positively contributing to nation-building. This is can be understood with making of skilled workforce for an industry, which in turn enhance the industry’s economy but also uplifts the lifestyle and influences their choices optimistically. Herein, the skilled workforce can be assumed to be the young Indian and the industry to be our country producing the output of a good economy. The right to education becomes very relevant and important in this, as thirty-seven percent of our country’s population is under the age of eighteen years.[2] From this figure, a whopping amount of ninety-nine million children are out of school.[3] Education to this age group is the most vital as it is a crucial input for empowering people with skills and knowledge and giving them access to productive employment in future. The strategic approach to development of education involves four E’s[4] viz., Expansion; in terms of accessibility of educational institutions to all, Equity and inclusion; in terms of imparting education without any discrimination, Excellence; regarding improvement of quality of education and enabling it to all to achieve expected outcomes and lastly, Employability; to enhance employability of the products of education system.

There are several statutes in place laying down the right to education in India. The first major instance of it is, it being enshrined as a fundamental right under the eighty-sixth constitutional amendment, i.e., under Art.21A that the State shall provide for free and compulsory education to all the children between the age groups of six to fourteen years. Further, the Constitution also imposes a fundamental duty on the parents and guardians under Art.51A for providing educational opportunities. Taking this view forward, the Govt of India passed the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (popularly known as the RTE Act).[5] The said Act states compulsory education as the obligation of the appropriate Govt to provide for free elementary education and ensure compulsory admission to the children under said age groups while also laying down the requirements of infrastructure, pupil-teacher ratio etc. The RTE Act is a landmark legislation in terms of empowering right to education not just because it corresponds to the international commitments of India with bodies such as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) etc but also because it puts up prohibition on viz., physical and mental punishments, screening procedures for admissions, capitation fees, private tuitions by teachers and running of schools without recognition. Along with this, under the Education For All (EFA) national level flagship programmes such as Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA; a programme for securing universal education), Mid-day Meal Scheme (world’s largest school feeding programme able to secure high attendance of children in schools), Integrated Child Development Schemes (ICDS; having provisions relating to Anganwadis, providing free nutritious food to children up to age of six years etc.) etc are being undertaken for accomplishment of right to education to all, specifically up to, elementary level as of now.

Another strong aspect of right to education is the standard of education imparted. It is to be kept in mind that children receive a high quality education as per the international norms.  Programmes such as the SSA have already being working towards fostering quality education and increasing student-teacher ratio. This is evident from the fact that pupil-teacher ratio has significantly improved from 36:1 in 2006-07 to 25:1 in 2013-14.[6] The gross enrolment ratio in the elementary education has also risen from nearly eighty-two percent to ninety-seven percent in the years 2000-01 to 2013-14 respectively.[7] The number of out-of-school children has also declined approximately from fourteen million to nine million in the years 2005-06 to 2009-10 respectively.[8] But all these schemes and Acts are facing some major obstacles which certainly cannot be ignored. These include issues such as the insufficient funding, the shortfall in funding amounts to nearly twenty-five billion rupees in RTE implementation in the year 2013-14.[9] Another problem is with the availability of teachers, some states have a large shortage of trained whereas some do not have the means to provide proper training.[10] The still slow and lower enrollment ratios in elementary education demand immediate action. The very nominal admission of, especially children with special needs and of those belonging from backward classes in the mainstream schools is yet another issue requiring urgent attention.

Further, the issues with implementation of the right to education is not to be associated with a third world country’s problem as nations like USA and Australia are facing them too.[11] Even though of the above inefficiencies, the right to education in India is progressive in nature.  In states like UP, more than fifteen thousand children have enrolled in schools in forty-nine districts under the RTE Act which is more than three times compared to last year.[12] The credit should be given for the initiatives taken by the State Govt in order to spread awareness through organising RTE fairs etc.[13] Also, the same state education dept carried on issuing five thousand rupees for purchasing books and uniforms under the RTE Act.[14] These kinds of steps should be replicated by other bodies and authorities to ensure faster growth in securing the right to education of all. Also the states like J&K are suffering adversely in this regard as children are stopped from going to schools due to turmoil and harsh situations.[15]  In country like India wherein states like Delhi have at least one lakh children out of school,[16] it becomes inevitable to act stringently towards making right to education accessible, and to provide free and quality education for that matter to all, which protects its true fundamental character.

[1] India; World data on education, 2010/11; 2011 Updated version July,2011 Principles and General Objectives of Education.

[2] Census 2011 : There are 444 million children in India under the age of 18 years. This constitutes 37% of the total population in the country. Web access from http://www.cry.org/issues-views/statistics-on-children-in-india/

[3] Census 2011: 1 in 4 children of school-going age is out of school in our country – 99 million children in total have dropped out of school. Web access from http://www.cry.org/issues-views/statistics-on-children-in-india/

 

[4] “Education for All 2015 National Review Report: India”, prepared by the relevant national authorities in view of the World Education Forum (Incheon, Republic of Korea, 19‐22 May 2015). It was submitted in response to UNESCO’s invitation to its Member States to assess progress made since 2000 towards achieving Education for All (EFA).

[5] The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which became operative on 1

April 2010, has laid a solid foundation on which future policies and programmes relating to elementary

education could be built. Aligning the policies and practices with the objectives of the RTE Act and

achieving the goal of providing good quality free and compulsory education to all children in the age

group 6-14 years will continue to be one of the key education development priorities. From “ Education for All 2015 National Review Report: India”

[6] Source: U-DISE, NUEPA.

[7] Source: Statistics of School Education, 2007-08, MHRD, GoI; Educational Statistics at a Glance, 2011, MHRD, GoI; Statistics of School Education, 2010-11, MHRD, GoI; and U-DISE, NUEPA.; 2000-01: 81.2%,2013-14: 97.0%.

[8] Source: Reports of IMRB surveys 2005 & 2009.

[9] Source: Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, shortfall in 2013-14: 24.84 billion rupees.

[10] Source: Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, UP: 269,539 (highest).

[11] From: Michigan advocates seek explicit right to education by John Wisely , Detroit Free Press 12:31 a.m. EDT October 2, 2016. And :The Case for a Right to Education By Thor Benson [1] / AlterNet [2] September 27, 2016. And : Defend the right to free education Published: October 8, 2016 2:57PM on http://www.theage.com.au/comment/theageeditorial/defendtherighttofreeeducation20161008grxk4t.html

[12] From: “15,626 kids admitted under RTE in 49 UP districts in 2016” by Rajeev Mullick, Hindustan Times, Lucknow | Updated: Sep 16, 2016 19:04 IST.

[13] From: “On Children’s Day, kids to get gift of education” by TNN | Sep 25, 2016, 12.31 PM IST.

[14] From: “Poor children to get 5,000 aid” by TNN | Oct 11, 2016, 05.54 AM IST.

[15] From: “Reviving Education amid the Turmoil” by SYED DILAWAR YASEEN Srinagar, Publish Date: Oct 9 2016 10:09PM | Updated Date: Oct 9 2016 10:09PM.

[16] From: “Right to education: At least a lakh left out” by TNN | Oct 6, 2016, 12.16 AM IST.