TODAY -

Role of the State towards implementation of RTE Act, 2009

Dr S Gyaneswar Singh *

SACSAS School at Maobam, In Churachandpur district about 10 kms from Moirang Lamkhai
SACSAS School at Maobam, In Churachandpur district about 10 kms from Moirang Lamkhai :: Pix - SACSAS



Education is not only a key component of human development; it is also a great liberating force. 'Sa Vidya Ya Vimuktaye' (Education Liberates), says the Vishnu Purana. In the present day context, education is not only for enlightenment but also for empowerment of man. Education is the single most important mans for individual to improve personal endowments, build capability levels, overcome constraints and, in the process enlarge their available set of opportunities and choices for a sustained improvement in well-being.

It is not only a means to enhance human capital, productivity and hence, the compensation to labour, but it is equally important for enabling the process of acquisition, assimilation and communication for information and knowledge, all of which augments a person's quality of life. More importantly, it is a critical invasive instrument for bringing out social, economic and political inclusion and a durable integration of people, particularly those 'excluded' from the mainstream of any society.

The process of education and attainment thereof has an impact on all aspects of life. It captures capability of acquiring knowledge, skill and values, participation in community life. The level and spread of education has been an important pre-condition for sustained economic growth and also for sustainable development. It has also played a critical facilitative role in the demographic, social and political and democratic transition and also making it vibrant.

Creation, application and adaptation of new technologies; lower fertility, infant and child mortality rates, better nutritional, health and hygiene status of children, reproductive health and empowerment of women; social mobility and political participation, all have visible linkages with education attainment of the people. It is undoubtedly, a basic component of human development.

On realization of such an enormous potential of education, all nations have committed themselves to the universalisation of elementary education with an explicit aim of providing 'Quality education for all'. They have also recognized the significance of expansion of secondary education, gradually reaching to a near universalisation level, and simultaneously improving its quality for effective empowerment of as many as more learners as possible in order to achieve advancement in socio-economic and other domains of life.

In our country, since independence from the colonial rule, the nation is striving for to give universal, free and compulsory primary education to its citizens by making provisions in the Constitution. The Directive Principles of State Policy in its Article 45 (Part IV) of the Constitution envisages provision for right to free and compulsory education of children, who read as follows:

"The State shall endeavour to provide, within a period of 10 years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years."

To elaborate, the 'State', which is in this context includes the Government and Parliament of India, Government and Legislatures of the States, and all local and other authorities within a country, is enjoined to apply these principles in making laws. Thus, the Constitution of India through Directive Principles makes a forceful appeal to the various Indian States to work towards assuring these rights the process of governance but clearly states that any court cannot enforce them.

It states that 'the Directives are not enforceable in the courts and do not create any justifiable rights in favour of the individuals" (Basu, DD, P-153). Thus unlike Fundamental Rights, the Directive Principles are non-justifiable in character. According to the above reasons, if a child under fourteen years of age is unable to receive education either because there is no recognized school in his neighbourhood or the existing schools in his locality are too expensive for him, the child cannot sue the government under Article 45. The government may possibility get away under the plea that it is 'endeavouring' to provide educational facilities.

Due to weak legislation, financial constraint, faulty planning during the last sixty years, the goal of universal free and compulsory elementary education of the people has remained as an elusive dream. In the words of Prof Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate, 'the goal has been regularly reiterated without any effective steps being taken to reach it.'

The Constitution 86th Amendment Act, 2002, enacted in December 2002, which seeks to make free and compulsory education a fundamental right for all children in the age group 6-14 years by inserting a new Article 21A to the Constitution (Part III, Fundamental Right). The new Article 21 A read as follows:

"The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State may, by law determine." (Article 21 A)

This makes the right to education a fundamental right for children in this group. Simultaneously, in Article 45, the Directive Principles of State Policy on providing free and compulsory education to all children in the age group 0-14 years was rewritten limiting this provision to the age group 0-6 years. A new fundamental duty was added making it mandatory for all parents to send their children to school when they are 6 to 14 years of age.

With the passing of 'Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009", there will be a radical transformation of the school education system in this country. The Central Government and the State Government shall have concurrent responsibility for providing funds for carrying out the provision of the Act.

It will be the responsibility of the Central Government to develop a framework of National curriculum, develop and enforce standard for training of teachers and to provide technical support and resources to the State Governments for promoting, innovation, researches, planning and capacity building. While the responsibilities of the State Governments are the following:

  1. Providing free and compulsory elementary education to every child.
  2. Provide free and compulsory elementary education to every child of the age of six to fourteen years, and
  3. Ensure compulsory admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by every child of the age of six to fourteen years.
  4. Ensure availability of a neighbourhood school.
  5. Ensure that the child belonging to weaker section and the child belonging to disadvantaged group are not discriminated against and prevented from pursuing and completing elementary education on any grounds.
  6. Provide infrastructure including school building, teaching staff and learning equipment.
  7. Provide special training facility.
  8. Ensure and monitor admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by every child.
  9. Ensure good quality elementary education conforming to the standards and norms specified in the schedule.
  10. Ensure timely prescribing of curriculum and courses of study for elementary education, and
  11. Provide training facility for teachers.
In addition to the above duties of the State Government, the local authority will discharge the following additional duties-
  1. Ensure admission of children of migrant families.
  2. Monitor functioning of schools within its jurisdiction, and
  3. Device the academic calendar.



* Dr S Gyaneswar Singh wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
This article was posted on May 13, 2012 .



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