In the rural areas of our country, we have seen that most of the parents usually don’t send their children to school for education.
One of the reasons behind this is that they are unaware of the importance of being educated in the society. And some of them even don’t have the nominal amount to pay the fee to school for their children’s education.
As a result, most of the them are left uneducated and some even do not get a chance to go to school.
Due to the above scenario, RTE (Right to Education) Act was enacted under Article 21-A of the Indian Constitution on 4th August, 2009 and came into force on 1st April, 2010. This act is also known as Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act.
This act laid emphasis on making the education compulsory for children aged 6-14 years, for free of cost.
In our Indian Constitution, every Indian citizen has some fundamental rights and the RTE act has made Education a fundamental right for each and every child of the country, whose age is between 6 and 14 years. In this aspect, India stands at the 135th position, as 134 countries had already declared education as a fundamental right in their Constitution.
Salient Features of Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009
- The objective of RTE Act is to render Quality, Free and Compulsory education to all children who come in the age group of 6 to14 years. This age group is 6 to18 years for children with disabilities or for differently abled children, as laid down in a separate law ‘The Persons With Disabilities Act’.
- Under Article 21-A, added by 86th Amendment Act, 2002 in the Indian Constitution, Education is declared as a Fundamental Right for children aged 6-14 years.
- Initially, this act came into effect in 2010 all over India, except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
- RTE act, 2009 has 7 Chapters and 38 Sections.
- This act states that elementary education (which covers primary class 1-5 and upper primary class 6-8) is compulsory to provide to all the children and absolutely free.
- 25 percent seats are reserved for the children who are either differently abled, or belong to scheduled caste and schedule tribe or who are socially backward.
- Provisions are made to give admission to a child in a class which matches with his or her age.
- RTE states that all the responsibilities whether financial or others should be shared in a proper ratio by Central and State Governments, so that none of them will feel the burden.
- Minimum standards and norms in the context of Students Teacher Ratios, Working days of school, Working hours of Teachers, School building and infrastructure are also laid down by RTE.
- RTE states that only those teachers should be appointed who match the eligibility criteria in terms of academic qualification, work experience etc.
- It laid emphasis on improving the education system, trying to make it more ‘child friendly’ by making efforts to keep each and every child stress free and fear free.
RTE Act prohibits or restricts following:
Physical and mental harassment (in terms of giving punishment or other) to children by the teachers is prohibited.
- To admit the children in the schools, a specific procedure of admission is followed, which includes screening of children on the basis of their financial status and caste based reservation system.
- No donation or Capitation fee is permissible by RTE.
- Teachers are not allowed to call students at their home for private tuitions. They can’t teach in a private coaching institute either.
- Prohibit the schools to run or practise who are not recognised by the government or concerned authority.
Provisions of RTE ( Right to Education) Act for elementary schools
In this context, this act also specifies some minimum standards and norms for elementary schools:
- According to this act, all the private schools are required to reserve one fourth i.e. 25 percent school seats for children admitted through RTE ( Right to Education).
- It also put restrictions on the schools to practice or run which do not have a proper recognition or are considered as unrecognised schools.
- This act does not allow any school to take the entrance or admission test or interview of the child or parents for admitting a child in their school, no donation, no child will be expelled from the school or need to clear a board exam until and unless his elementary education gets completed.
- Training programs are also organised for the school drop-outs so that when they join the school again, they can match with the other students of their age group. To identify the school drop-outs and children who need education, surveys are conducted as per this act and accordingly facilities are set up.
- For the primary classes, normally the pupil teacher ratio is 30:1. If there are 60 students, then 2 teachers are required, for 61-90 students, 3 teachers are required. If the strength of students is more than 150, then with 5 teachers,1 head teacher is also required.
In case, more than 200 students are there, then maximum this pupil teacher ratio can be 40:1.
- Similarly, for the upper primary classes, normally student teacher ratio is 35:1 and maximum 40:1.
- In terms of school building and infrastructure, RTE has mandated the following:
- Minimum one class room for every teacher and an office cum store cum headteacher room in a school.
- Seperate toilets for boys and girls.
- Safe and hygienic drinking water facilities.
- A kitchen for preparing the mid day meal for the children.
- Library with good books, magazine’s, newspaper’s and story books.
- Play material and equipment related to various games and sports.
- According to the RTE Act, Minimum of Working days of Teachers for primary classes should be 200 and 220 for upper primary classes.
- Similarly, Working hours of Teachers for Class 1-5 is 800 hours per year and 1000 hours per year for class 6-8.
Minimum working hours per week for a teacher is 45 hours including the preparation hours, for the primary level.
- The School Management Committee must be there.
- Teachers should be deployed only for educational work. Other than education, few other works are also permitted by RTE. It includes duty in the election, disaster relief, decennial census and state laws and parliament.
Developments in RTE ( Right to Education)
In 2011, a decision was made to extend the age of children from 14 to 16 years and cover the pre-school age group also. A committee by the name of ‘CABE’ was also formed to look after the effects of bringing these changes.
- In 2010, under this act, ‘No Detention Policy’ was introduced. According to this policy, children up to Std. VIII, without considering the overall score secured by them in the examination, must get promoted to the next standard. The objective of this policy is to encourage each and every child who is admitted in a school through RTE, not to expel any of them from the school till the time they complete their elementary education. However in 2019, an amendment was made in this act and this policy got removed.
It was decided that exams will be conducted for children studying in class 5 and class 8. In case, a child did not pass in the first attempt, he or she will get a second chance to clear the exam. If a child fails in the second attempt also, then the state government will decide whether the child will get promoted to the next class or repeat the same class.
Benefits or Advantages of RTE (Right to Education) Act
The RTE Act was enacted in 2009 and came into force in 2010 and till now it has achieved a lot:
- Number of admissions in Std. VI, VII and VIII are increased.
- Minimum standards and norms related to school building and infrastructure in rural areas leads to adequate no. of classrooms, seperate toilets for boys and girls, library and play ground with the requisite facilities.
- Over 3.3 million children took admission through RTE (under 25 percent seats reservation system).
- According to Article 51-A(k) in the Constitution, it is the duty of the parents to admit their child in the elementary schools for education. This is considered as an achievement as it supports the goal of RTE.
- Due to free and compulsory education provided under this act, education becomes accessible all over the country. This also leads to an increased literacy rate in the whole nation.
- This act states that Primary school (Class 1-5) should be within a range of 1 Km and Upper primary school (Class 6-8) should be within a range of 3 Kms from the home of children. For children, RTE makes education accessible in their neighborhood areas only.
- “No detention policy” was removed in 2019 and this results in accountability in the education system.
- Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, an integrated scheme launched by the government for this purpose. This scheme comprising the following schemes, related to school education:
1.Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)
2.Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA)
3.Centrally Sponsored Scheme on Teacher Education (CSSTE).
Shortcomings of RTE (Right to Education) Act
At present, this act covers the children of age group from 6-14 years for free and compulsory education. This age group should be 03-18 years so that education of all the children of India can start on time and go on till they attain the age of maturity i.e. 18 years.
- Multiple surveys are done under this act and accordingly ASER reports were also prepared. These reports have shown that the concept of ‘Quality Education‘ is missing in the whole system and focus is more on RTE statistics.
- No notification (regarding reservation of 25 percent of seats for the disadvantaged children of the society) is even issued to the five states of India i.e. Manipur, Goa, Mizoram, Telangana and Sikkim.
- Due to the shortage of good teachers who match the eligibility criteria of minimum qualification and work standards, students-teacher ratio gets affected and this leads to the quality of teaching .
Steps to be taken to improve the system
Minority Religious Schools are required to be included under the RTE.
- To improve the quality of teaching, training programs should be organised for the teachers so that they can improve their teaching skills, update their knowledge and be able to meet the minimum standards of teaching.
- With quality of teaching, steps should be taken to improve the quality of education also, rather than quantity of education.
- A good support is expected from all the citizens of our country in the context of making each and every child of India be educated.
The Right to Education (RTE) Act was implemented years ago but still it has not achieved its goal, for which it was constituted.
By creating a conducive atmosphere and making adequate resources available, a lot can be done in this direction. This results in an educated society that leads to a literate nation that can be formed in the near future.