Education is one of the most significant factors for a nation like India where children and young minds dominate the demography. When in 2002 our country finally understood the role and importance of education, they enacted the RTE, act 2009 (The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act). This article explains the origin of the act and the shortcomings of the act along with remedies to make amends. It is important to understand that though the education act took almost a decade to come into existence in India, there are still certain flaws that need suture.
After 70 years of independence if we measure India’s development and growth based on the infrastructure, like the number of flyovers, metros, malls, etc. we have developed tremendously, but in reality, a country’s literacy rate and educational growth of the populace of a country is the true indicator of its growth. Education is a significant part of our society. In India, we do provide education to our children as their fundamental right under Article 21(A). By the 86th amendment act, we made the Right to Primary Education a part of the Right to Freedom. But somewhere after so many years of Independence and freedom, we failed ourselves and our children by continuing to be slaves to our primitive thinking and feudal social culture where children preferred doing manual labour rather than going to school and receiving an education, which is their fundamental right.
Origin of Right to Education:
The status of the right to education during the pre-independence period was a system of informal education. There was no higher education system. Generally, teaching was done in Sanskrit and pathshalas were the institution for the source of learning. Education was also divided based on religion, Muslim children were taught in Arabic and Persian. Education during pre-independence was usually limited to religious teachings and not about mathematics or science or literature.
The development of modern education in India came in 1813, with the onset of the East India Company. Even after India was introduced to a systematic education it took us decades to formalise a statute that included children of all religions, castes, genders, nationalities.
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act)
means free and compulsory Education. The Act or the RTE was enacted by the parliament of India on 3rd September 2009, The Act came into force on 1st April 2010. The 86th Amendment Act 2002 was inserted in Article 21(A) to provide free and compulsory education for all children in the age group of 6 to 14 years as a fundamental right in such a manner as the state may, by law, determine. Granting the fundamental rights to itself was based on Article 45(under DPSP)- “The state shall endeavour to provide, within a period of 10 years from the commencement of this constitution, for free and compulsory education of all children until the age of fourteen years.”
Free means no child is liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing or completing the education. The government should provide free education and ensure compulsory admission, attendance, and completion of elementary education of the child.
Supreme Court in its Mohini Jain v. Union of India (1992) 3 SCC 666, observed that, Right to education is a part of the Right to Life under Article 21 (A) because an individual cannot have dignity unless they are educated. That is why the Right to Education directly flows from Right to Life.
Is ‘Right to Education’ Fundamental right?
- The UN’s ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has a right to education which shall be free. Article 13 and 14 of the International Convention of Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)set out a detailed formulation of the Right to Education. Article 13 contains the general statement that everyone has the right to education and that education should contribute to the full development and human personality.
- Article 28 and 29 of the Convention of the Right to Children (CRC) deals with the right to the child of education. Article 29 stipulates that the education of a child shall be directed towards the development of their personality, talents, mental & physical ability to the full potential.
- UNESCO stipulates that the state must undertake to formulate, develop and apply a national policy that will promote equality in opportunity and treatment, and in particular to make primary education free and compulsory.
- Article 45 of the Indian Constitution “The state shall endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years”
- Article 41 of the Indian Constitution “The state shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provisions for securing the right”.
- The 86th amendment Act 2002 has made elementary education a fundamental right in India. When the RTE Act came into force on 1st April 2010, India joined the group of 135 countries in the world to make education a fundamental right for every child.
Shortcomings in the RTE Act, 2010 :
Though the act had noble intentions it does suffer from certain flaws like:
- The act does not specify quality education in terms of skill and knowledge to face the challenges that humanity is facing today. Pedagogy, syllabus, accreditation, affiliation are also among important factors of education that need to be given more focus. Scholars, educationists, and policymakers need to focus on qualitative rather than quantitative education.
- Government via section 16 of the act protects children from getting expelled or being held back in the class until he or she completes their elementary education. The government fails to understand the concept of protective mechanisms. Failing a child works as a deterrent and it encourages the child to perform well.
- Section 18 fails to recognize schools that do not follow norms laid down under the act. And they shut down such schools within three years if they don’t follow prescribed regulations.
- Section 17(1) banned physical punishment and mental harassment but it fails to describe the term mental harassment.
- The Right to Learning Act should not be set for 14 years. The government needs to make some changes like applying for diplomas/degrees like IT, Mobile Communications, Media, Entertainment, Telecommunications, Automotive, and Construction.
- Decades ago CSS (General School System) was a major step towards achieving equality, but now education needs to be transformed into MSS (School Model Program) based on the needs and requirements of the society. Samples.
- Parents need to play a major role in making RTE a big success in India. This can only be done by encouraging them with advice and informing them about RTE law on medals, leaflet promotion, endurance, sports conferences, etc. Only then can we hope that our next generation will study well.
- The most important governing body should be involved in the registration of newborns and send their records to the nearest school. School officials must track the child and submit registration and adoption details without discrimination.
The intention of the government and the legislation though were noble and considerate with respect to children. To achieve it we need certain amendments. Times have changed and education is the only key factor to measure the concrete growth of a nation. We need a systematic and uniform education system along with appropriate teaching & non-teaching staff and a conscious and aware society to support this system in order to work efficiently.