TODAY -

The Right Of Children To Free & Compulsory Education Act 2009
- Part 1 -

Kakchingtabam Gunachandra Sharma *

Right Of Children To Free & Compulsory Education Act 2009



What is the Act about?

o Every child between the ages of 6 to 14 years has the right to free and compulsory education. This is stated as per the 86th Constitution Amendment Act added Article 21A. The right to education act seeks to give effect to this amendment
o The government schools shall provide free education to all the children and the schools will be managed by school management committees (SMC). Private schools shall admit at least 25% of the children in their schools without any fee.
o The National Commission for Elementary Education shall be constituted to monitor all aspects of elementary education including quality.

Why is the act significant and what does it mean for India?

o The passing of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009 marks a historic moment for the children of India.
o This Act serves as a building block to ensure that every child has his or her right (as an entitlement) to get a quality elementary education, and that the State, with the help of families and communities, fulfils this obligation.
o Few countries in the world have such a national provision to ensure both free and child-centred, child-friendly education.

What is 'Free and Compulsory Elementary Education'?

o All children between the ages of 6 and 14 shall have the right to free and compulsory elementary education at a neighborhood school.
o There is no direct (school fees) or indirect cost (uniforms, textbooks, mid-day meals, transportation) to be borne by the child or the parents to obtain elementary education. The government will provide schooling free-of-cost until a child's elementary education is completed.

What is Right to Education Act?

Education is a fundamental human right, essential for the empowerment and development of an individual and the society as a whole. According to the UNESCO's 'Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2010', about 135 countries have constitutional provision for free and non-discriminatory education for all. In 1950, India made a Constitutional commitment to provide free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 14, by adding this provision in article 45 of the directive principles of state policy.

With the 86th Constitutional amendment on 12th December 2002, Article 21A was amended by the Constitution in order to introduce Right to Education as a fundamental right.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act finally came into force on 1st April 2010. The Act provides for free and compulsory education to all children in the age group of six to fourteen years. It is now a legally enforceable duty of the Centre and the states, to provide free and compulsory education.

What are the provisions of RTE act?

The Act has the following major provisions:-
o Every child between the age of six to fourteen years, shall have the right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school, till completion of elementary education.
o For this purpose, no child shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education.
o Where a child above six years of age has not been admitted to any school or though admitted, could not complete his or her elementary education, then, he or she shall be admitted in a class appropriate to his or her age.
o For carrying out the provisions of this Act, the appropriate government and local authority shall establish a school, if it is not established, within the given area, within a period of three years, from the commencement of this Act.
o The Central and the State Governments shall have concurrent responsibility for providing funds for carrying out the provisions of this Act.

This Act is an essential step towards improving each child's accessibility to secondary and higher education. The Act also contains specific provisions for disadvantaged groups, such as child labourers, migrant children, children with special needs, or those who have a disadvantage owing to social, cultural, economical, geographical, linguistic, gender or any such factor. With the implementation of this Act, it is also expected that issues of school dropout, out-of-school children, quality of education and availability of trained teachers would be addressed in the short to medium term plans.

The enforcement of the Right to Education Act brings the country closer to achieving the objectives and mission of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA) and hence is a historic step taken by the Government of India.

What are the main features of Right to Education 2009 Act?

The salient features of the Right of Children for Free and Compulsory Education act are
o Free and compulsory education to all children of India in the 6 to 14 age group;
o No child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until completion of elementary education;
o A child above six years of age has not been admitted in any school or though admitted, could not complete his or her elementary education, then, he or she shall be admitted in a class appropriate to his or her age; Provided that where a child is directly admitted in a class appropriate to his or her age, then, he or she shall, in order to be at par with others, have a right to receive special training, in such manner, and within such time limits, as may be prescribed: Provided further that a child so admitted to elementary education shall be entitled to free education till completion of elementary education even after fourteen years.
o Proof of age for admission: For the purposes of admission to elementary education. the age of a child shall be determined on the basis of the birth certificate issued in accordance with the provisions of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, 1856 or on the basis of such other document, as may be prescribed. No child shall be denied admission in a school for lack of age proof
o A child who completes elementary education shall be awarded a certificate;
o Calls for a fixed student-teacher ratio;
o Will apply to all of India except Jammu and Kashmir;
o Provides for 25 percent reservation for economically disadvantaged communities in admission to Class One in all private schools;
o Mandates improvement in quality of education;
o School teachers will need adequate professional degree within five years or else will lose job;
o School infrastructure (where there is problem) to be improved in three years, else recognition cancelled;
o Financial burden will be shared between state and central government

What are the duties of the Appropriate Government?

The Act prescribes the following duties for the Appropriate Government:-
o To provide free and compulsory elementary education to all children in the age group of 6-14 years;
o To ensure availability of a neighborhood school with requisite infrastructure, teachers, and learning equipment as specified in the Act;
o To ensure admission, attendance and completion of elementary education for every child;
o To ensure that children belonging to disadvantaged or weaker section are not discriminated against and prevented from pursuing or completing elementary education on any ground;
o To provide special training facilities to out-of-school children admitted to age appropriate class;
o To provide training facility for teachers;
o To ensure timely prescribing of curriculum and course of studies, and
o To ensure quality education conforming to standards specified in the Schedule of the Act.

What if the teacher remains absent or does not teach properly?

Disciplinary action can be taken against the teacher (Section 24(2)). The procedure is outlined in respective state RTE Rules.

Does the Act define a 'Teacher'? Who will prescribe teacher qualifications?

Yes, the Act defines a 'Teacher' in Section 23(1). An academic institution of the central government shall prescribe teacher qualifications that all teachers of the country must have within five years. This will include both the academic and professional qualifications. The central government has already notified that the National Council for Teacher Education shall prescribe teacher qualifications. A broader committee under MHRD has already sent its suggestions to the NCTE regarding the new teacher qualifications.

Is private tuition banned for all teachers?

It is banned for all teachers as defined under this Act, working in government or private elementary schools. Since this Act does not apply to secondary school teachers, the ban on tuitions under this Act shall not extend to them, though there might be other laws and service conditions at the state level that disallow tuitions for secondary school teachers, which will continue to remain in force.

Can teachers be engaged in non-academic work as per the Act?

The Act bans all non-academic work by teachers, except that related to elections, decennial census and disaster related tasks as per the notification by the Central Government. Whereas census involves work once in ten years and disasters are rare, increasingly frequent elections do keep teachers away from schools for long periods of time, particularly for the preparation of electoral rolls. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Govt. of India has notified guidelines for the deployment of teachers for the purpose of elections and mentions the following duties of teachers relating to the conduct of election.

o Deployment on the days of poll and counting.
o Attending the training and collection of election materials for such deployment
The guidelines mention that all other duties relating to electoral roll revision will be undertaken during holidays or during non-teaching hours or non-teaching days.

What are the specific duties of the teacher as per the Act?

The specific duties of the teachers under this Act are:-
o Maintain regularity and punctuality in the school.
o Complete entire curriculum within a specified time.
o Assess the learning ability of each child and provide supplementary additional instruction if required.
o Hold regular meetings with parents and apprise them of regularity in attendance, learning abilities, progress and other issues concerning the child.
o Besides the above mentioned activities, the Kerala Rules specify the following activities to be taken up by the teachers:
o Maintain a file containing the pupil-cumulative record for every child that will be the basis of awarding the certificate of completion of the elementary education.
o Participate in the training programmes organized by the academic authority.
o Participate in curriculum formulation and development of syllabi, training modules and text book development.
o Perform other such duties as may be specified from time to time.

To be continued


* Kakchingtabam Gunachandra Sharma wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at netzone_guna(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)in
This article was posted on January 18 , 2014.


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