Resource centre on India's rural distress
 
 

Right to Education

KEY TRENDS 


•    A survey study by CRY across 71 districts in 13 states during September-October 2012 to assess the implementation of RTE reveals that: a. 11% schools did not have toilets; b. Only 18% schools had separate toilets for girls; c. In 34% schools toilets were observed to be in bad condition or unusable; d. 20% schools did not have safe drinking water; e. 12% schools had a tap, or hand pump outside school premises; f. In 18% schools the Mid Day Meal was either not cooked inside a designated kitchen or did not have a kitchen space at all; g. 63% schools did not have a playground; h. 60% schools did not have a boundary wall, or had a damaged boundary wall or the boundary wall was under construction; i. 74% schools did not have a library $

•    A pan-Delhi survey of lower and lower middle-class neighborhoods and government schools to ascertain the state of implementation of various RTE provisions, which was conducted between Nov 2012 and Feb 2013 shows several deficiencies related to Infrastructure, School Management Committees, EWS admissions, Fees, Teacher availability and Quality of teaching.

•    Every child of the age of six to fourteen years shall have a right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school till completion of elementary education*

•    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 the elementary education*

•    For carrying out the provisions of this Act, the appropriate Government and the local authority shall establish, within such area or limits of neighbourhood, as may be prescribed, a school, where it is not so established, within a period of three years from the commencement of this Act*

•    The Central Government and the State Government shall have concurrent responsibility for providing funds for carrying out the provisions of this Act*

•    The Central Government shall prepare the estimates of capital and recurring expenditure for the implementation of the provisions of the Act*

•    The Central Government shall—(a) develop a framework of national curriculum with the help of academic  authority specified under section 29; (b) develop and enforce standards for training of teachers; (c) provide technical support and resources to the State Government for promoting innovations, researches, planning and capacity building*

•    Every local authority shall 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*

•    The local authority shall provide infrastructure including school building, teaching staff and learning material*

•    No school or person shall, while admitting a child, collect any capitation fee and subject the child or his or her parents or guardian to any screening procedure. In case a school charges capitation fee, it shall be punishable with fine which may extend to ten times the capitation fee charged*

•    No child shall be subjected to physical punishment or mental harassment*

•    No child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education*

•    A school, other than a school specified in sub-clause (iv) of clause (n) of section 2, shall constitute a School Management Committee consisting of the elected representatives of the local authority, parents or guardians of children admitted in such school and teachers*

•    Article 21A, as inserted by the Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002, provides for free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right in such manner as the State may, by law, determine*

$ 'Learning Blocks' by Child Rights and You (CRY), 26 June, 2013,
http://www.cry.org/mediacenter/afarcryfromequitablequalityeducationforall.html 

β Status of Implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009: The Delhi Story 2012-2013, prepared by Joint Operation for Social Help (JOSH) and OXFAM and financed by VSO India

* The Right of the Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2008 http://www.esocialsciences.com/data/articles/Document12772009230.3466761.pdf

 

Please note that information about education as a category of Human Development Index and many more related themes is also given under "Hunger/ HDI" section of the im4change website. For best results, please check out both sections. Click here:

 

http://www.im4change.org/articles.php?articleId=50

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The NGO Child Rights and You (CRY) conducted a study across 71 districts in 13 states, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu (South); Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal (East); Gujarat, Maharashtra (West), Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh (North) and in 3 Metros, namely, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Hyderabad.

The data collection was carried out by CRY's project partners and CRY Volunteers (in some schools in the Metropolitan Cities) on the basis of an "Observation Schedule" provided to them from non-CRY intervention areas for greater objectivity in the study. The data was collected in the month of September-October 2012 in the sample states and cities. The selection of the states was purposive based on the presence of CRY in those states.

Although data was collected for 747 schools, from the point of view of RTE implementation only those schools were included for analysis which were primary schools and upper primary schools. The analysis and presentation of the data was done at three levels-1. Regionally (North, East, West, South); 2. Location-wise (Rural/Urban); 3. Social presence (SC, ST and Others).

According to the study entitled [inside]'Learning Blocks' by Child Rights and You (CRY), June, 2013[/inside],
http://www.cry.org/mediacenter/afarcryfromequitablequalityeducationforall.html

Toilets:

•    The study reveals that 11% schools did not have toilets. Only 18% schools had separate toilets for girls. In 34% schools toilets were observed to be in bad condition or unusable. Overall, most of the schools did not have separate toilets for girls and boys. Around 49% schools had common toilets for staff and students.

Drinking water:

•    20% schools did not have availability of safe drinking water. 12% schools had source of drinking water (tap/hand pump) outside school premises.

Separate room for the Head Teacher:

•    Around 58% schools did not have separate room for head teacher.

Kitchens and Mid Day Meals:

•    It is mandatory to have a separate kitchen in every school preparaing the Mid Day Meal inside school premises. But in 18% schools, the Mid Day Meal was either not cooked inside a designated kitchen or did not have a kitchen space at all.

Playground and Play Materials:

•    However, 63% schools under the study did not have a playground. 60% sample schools overall reported absence of play materials.

School Boundary Walls:

•    Around 60% schools did not have boundary wall, damaged boundary wall or boundary wall was under construction.

Library:

•    The study shows that 74% schools did not have a library. In schools which did have a library, around 84 did not have activity books and 80% did not have story and general knowledge books.

Age-appropriate Admission:

•    As per the findings of the study, only 13% schools provided age appropriate admission. In most of these schools, special coaching or training was provided to the child who received age appropriate admission.

•    Although not required by the Act, proof of age was asked for in 61% schools and in 47% of these schools it was mandatory.

•    Against the norms of the RTE Act, 66% schools demanded documents for proof of previous studies at the time of admission. Around 46% of these schools asked for transfer certificate from children at the time of admission - also against the law.

School Management Committees:

•    9% schools did not have School Management Committees and from the schools which had formed an SMC, 9% schools could not provide minutes of SMC meeting. In around 45% primary schools (PS) and 38% upper primary schools (UPS) parents were not members of SMC.  In around 59% PS and 54% UPS teachers were not members of SMC.

•    In 44% Primary School and 32% Upper Primary schools women were not members of SMCs. In 52% Primary Schools and 41% Upper Primary Schools parents from disadvantaged groups were not present. In 51% Primary Schools and 47% Upper Primary Schools elected representatives were not members of their SMCs. 55% sample schools under the study reported SMC not involved in preparation of school development plans. In 53% schools overall it was reported that SMCs were not involved in monitoring utilization of financial grants.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio:

•    The RTE mandates one teacher each for 30 students in lower primary schools and for 35 students in the upper primary schools. The study reveals that the Pupil-Teacher Ratio was calculated as 1:39 for Primary Schools and 1:40 for Upper Primary Schools.

•    The study reveals that 21% PS and 17% Upper Primary School reported involvement of teachers in some or other activities related to preparation of the Mid Day Meal - which is against the law.

•    Only 11% Upper Primary School reported the presence of part-time instructors for art/culture/music and work education. 15% Upper Primary School reported having part-time instructors for health and physical education.

Teachers:

•    Non-availability of head teachers was reported in 28% PS and 31% Upper Primary School.

•    Only 35% Primary School reported having teachers who had passed their 12th or holding a Diploma in Education. Further, 56% Primary School reported having teachers who were graduates or post graduates. Moreover, 37% Upper Primary School reported having teachers who had passed their 12th or holding a Diploma in Education and 50% Upper Primary School teachers graduate or post graduate.

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According to the report entitled: [inside]Status of Implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009: The Delhi Story 2012-2013[/inside], (please click here) prepared by Joint Operation for Social Help (JOSH) and OXFAM and financed by VSO India:

•    The present report attempts to understand the progress made on the implementation of the Right to Education Act made in the State of Delhi. 31st March, 2013 is the deadline for the implementation of RTE provisions in Delhi.

•    A pan-Delhi survey of lower and lower middle-class neighborhoods and government schools to ascertain the state of implementation of various RTE provisions was undertaken by a large group of very capable and highly motivated young volunteers, coming from some of the most prestigious colleges of Delhi like IIT Delhi, St. Stephens, Delhi School of Economics, LSR, Hindu, Ramjas, Delhi College of Engineering, RLA, TERI University etc. Some students from Presidency College Kolkata, NUS Singapore and Punjab University also participated. Overall, about 60 volunteers became a part of the project which was conducted between Nov 2012 and Feb 2013.

•    The present report is prepared based on the empirical data collected both through structured questionnaires as well as interviews and observations recorded by the surveyors.

•    The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education was passed in 2009 by the Government of India.

•    After the Constitutional Amendment in 2002, India enacted the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act in 2009. It was notified and came into effect in the whole of the country on the 1st of April 2010.

•    The student volunteers were divided into 6 teams comprising of 8-10 members each. Each team covered about 200 households and 5 schools. The total number of household covered by the study is 1425. And the total number of schools covered is 29 schools.

•    The districts covered in the survey are: North (Timarpur), North West (Rithala: Bengali Bazar, Pal Colony), South (Nizamuddin: Nizamuddin basti; Malviya Nagar: Valmiki Camp, Indira Camp), South West (Munirka: MN Camp, Saraswati Camp), Central (Daryaganj: Maulana Azad basti, Takia Kale Khan basti) and East (Trilokpuri).

KEY FINDINGS:

The data gathered clearly showed that many provisions of the RTE Act have not been fully implemented in a majority of the government schools in Delhi. The performance of schools vis-à-vis the Act also exhibited inter-district variations.

a. Access

•    Central to Right to Education Act is access to free and compulsory education to all children between 6-14 years. However, in Delhi, access still remains a challenge, especially for the most marginalized.

•    Even almost three years of implementation of the Act, a significant percentage of parents have reported that some money has been taken from them, either in the name of admission fee or other heads during the academic year, without any receipts being issued.

•    The two areas were very few or almost negligible number of parents reported admission form fee or admission fee been charged were Munirka and Trilokpuri. However, these parents and children in these areas reported other forms of fee like PTA funds, exam fees, ID cards etc were still been charged.

•    Apart from admission related concerns, another worrying aspect is that even now 14% of the children have not been admitted to a class appropriate to their age.

•    Several instances were found where a child who once dropped out of school for some reasons was not able to get re-admitted for the want of proper documents.

b. Teachers

•    The data indicates: a. Shortage of teachers in almost all schools across Delhi; b. Presence of contract teachers; c. Teacher not trained on CCE; and d. Lack of teachers for extracurricular activities.

•    Teachers in almost all schools spent a large amount of their teaching time doing non teaching duties. The non teaching duties include, election duty, census duty, polio campaign and so on. Teachers also reported to be spending considerable amount of time doing clerical work within the school.

•    At some places children (mostly girls) belonging to a particular group were asked to clean the classrooms, toilets and there were complaints of discrimination. Cases of discrimination were reported in bastis of Central Delhi, Rithala and others.

•    The data indicates that 46% of children reported to be beaten up by their teachers in school.

c. Quality and Classroom Transaction

•    Children reported that teachers often did not teach, instead encouraged them to take up private tuitions. Most areas reported parents to be spending Rs. 300-400 in a month for private tuition despite extreme economic conditions.

•    Responses from children, parents and surveyors’ visit to the school point to the fact that provisions of basic facilities like clean and functional toilets, drinking water still remains a challenge. Children carried water bottles from their homes and both girls and boys complained of unhygienic condition of toilets in their schools. Several case studies of children failing ill or not attending school due to poor infrastructure facilities, from the different districts explicitly reveal the status.

•    Most children when asked said that they don’t ask their teachers for doubts and explanations for the fear for been reprimanded. Corporal punishment in the form of both mental and physical abuse was found to be rampant in almost all the areas.

•    Most children reported that their schools had library facilities, though only 35% reported that they were allowed to access the library and borrow books. Only 18% of children were given any sports equipments to play with.

d. Inclusion

•    Cases of discrimination which has led to children dropping out were also reported in many of the areas surveyed.

•    Provision of scholarships was also found to be a big challenge, where parents though reported to be receiving the scholarship, however, the amount varied widely. Most of the time the children would receive only a fraction of the entitlement, for which various reasons were cited by the schools.

•    Only 23% of children reported that they had children with special needs-CWSN in their schools. The main reason cited by them for absence of CWSN was denial of admission, children dropping out due to lack of adequate care and attention, and lack of adequate infrastructure. However, amongst those who reported to have CWSN in their schools mentioned that 84% of cases, teachers gave special attention to these children, which was a positive trend.

e. Community Participation and Grievance Redressal

•    One of the primary institutional provisions is School Management Committees (SMCs) that is mandated to be formed in all schools under the RTE Act. No official notifications for formation of SMC have reached schools.

•    Most of the school authorities mentioned that they are yet to receive any orders from the higher authorities about formation of SMCs.

•    Large percentages of parents and community members have never complained or register a grievance. The reasons cited are varied. They mentioned lack of information of the different provisions as one reason, whereas the others mentioned that they were consistently insulted by the teachers and school authorities while trying to approach them with some concerns. They also mentioned that they don’t complain as they fear that their children will be reprimanded in response.

•    Only 55% of the parents have ever been called by the school, and amongst them, parents pointed that they were only called to collect their child’s scholarship and not for the purpose of discussing with them about better functioning of the school or about progress of their children in terms of studies. Parents shared that there are no platforms for raising their grievances or for seeking information about any entitlement or progress of their children.

f. EWS Admissions

•    The provision for reserving 25% seats in all private schools for children from Economically Weaker Sections-EWS is one of the most talked about sections of RTE in Delhi.

•    Larger public schools in Delhi have often deterred the parents from applying for the EWS, citing the future necessity of additional payments (other than the fees) to create an impression that education won’t actually be “free”. Most private schools charge fees for issuing the EWS application form, and even ask for income certificates before issuing them.

•    Getting the income certificate has proved to be another hurdle for the EWS households. Most of such families find it difficult to have their applications attested by a gazette officer. In some cases, the schools have demanded income certificates even from BPL card holders.

•    Most BPL families were reluctant to apply for EWS since it was anyway more expensive than sending their children to government schools, where free books, midday meals etc were an added benefit.

•    Mostly people working as lower level employees in a private school are able to get admissions under the EWS quota since they are unaware of the details of the process. Rests of the seats are being filled by people having much higher incomes who manage to get fake certificates. 

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[inside]Salient features of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2009[/inside]

• The Parliament of India has adopted ‘The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2009,’ which envisages free and compulsory education to children in the 6-14 age group with the Lok Sabha approving it by voice vote. The Rajya Sabha passed the Bill on July 20, 2009. On 4 August, 2009 the Lok Sabha passed the bill*

• While 25 per cent of seats in every private school would be allocated for children from disadvantaged groups including differently-abled children at the entry level, as far as minority institutions were concerned up to 50 per cent of those seats could be offered to students from their communities*

• The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2008 or Right to Education (RTE) Bill, a big move in order to make education a fundamental right for every child in the 6-14 age group, was cleared by the Union Cabinet on 2 July, 2009. It was scheduled to be introduced in the current session of the Indian Parliament. The first United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government (2004-2009) spent five years discussing and debating it through various committees and groups of minister, and by the time it was finalized, the Bill could not be introduced in Rajya Sabha. Therefore, the Bill, incorporating three major suggestions by the Standing Committee of Parliament, had to be brought to the Cabinet again**

• When RTE becomes law, it would empower the seven-year-old 86th Constitutional amendment that made free and compulsory education a fundamental right. The RTE Bill sets down guidelines for states and the Centre to execute and enforce this right. Earlier, education was part of the directive principles of state policy**

• Both the Centre and states will be responsible for the finances. The Centre will prepare the capital and recurring expenditure and provide it as grants-in-aid to each state from time to time. However, the share between the Centre and states will be decided later**

• The legislation has a host of features that stress not only on reaching out to every child in the 6-14 age group but also on quality and accountability of the state and education system**

• To ensure that the law gets effectively implemented, the Bill has provisions prohibiting teachers from undertaking private tuition as well as not letting them being used for non-educational purposes. There is also a provision that teacher vacancy should never exceed more than 10% of the total strength**

• To ensure that parents have equal stake in the system, the bill provides for school management committees in all government and aided schools. Women have been given 50% reservation in the school committees. Each committee will monitor and oversee the working of the school, manage its assets and ensure quality**

• To monitor implementation of the law, the Bill proposes a National Advisory Council at the centre and state advisory council in each state capital. In case of complaints of non-compliance, the initial complaint would go to local authority and should be resolved within 90 days**

• Key issues: • There are no specific penalties if the authorities fail to provide the right to elementary education; • Both the state government and the local authority have the duty to provide free and compulsory elementary education. Sharing of this duty may lead to neither government being held accountable; • The Bill provides for the right to schooling and physical infrastructure but does not guarantee that children learn. It exempts government schools from any consequences if they do not meet the specified norms; • The constitutional validity of reservations of seats in private schools for economically weaker sections could be challenged; • Minority schools are not exempt from provisions in this Bill. It is possible that this will conflict with Article 30 of the Constitution, which allows minorities to set up and administer educational institutions; • The Bill legitimises the practice of multi-grade teaching. The number of teachers shall be based on the number of students rather than by grade%$

• The Bill places the onus on the government to ensure enrolment of all children, but does not identify which government agency will be responsible for this task.  It is unclear how the appropriate authority will ensure and monitor that working children and children living on the streets without a parent or guardian will be enrolled in school. Both the appropriate government and the local authority share responsibility of providing free and compulsory education to every child. Sharing of this duty may lead to neither government being held accountable%$

• The Bill bans schools from collecting capitation fees or holding screening procedures while admitting students. A sub-section details the punishment for these crimes — a fine 10 times the capitation fee charged, Rs 25,000 for the first complaint of an admission test and Rs 50,000 subsequently. Other sub-sections outline the fine on schools that run without government recognition. The fine for starting a school without recognition is Rs 1 lakh and an additional fine of Rs 10,000 per day is listed for continuing without recognition. But Section 36 towards the end of the bill specifies that prosecution — for charging capitation fees, conducting admission screening and running a school without recognition — will be allowed only conditionally--“No prosecution for (these) offences… shall be instituted except with the previous sanction of an officer authorised in this behalf, by the appropriate government, by notification,” Section 36 states%%

• Section 37 goes further. It protects the Centre, the states, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and its state equivalents, the local government and school authorities from legal action if they violate the bill in “good faith” %%

• Section 37 protects the Centre, the states, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and its state equivalents, the local government and school authorities from legal action if they violate the bill in “good faith”- “No suit or other legal proceedings shall lie against the central government, the state government, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, the local authority, the school management committee or any person, in respect of anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done, in pursuance of this act, or any rules or order made thereunder” %%

• The Bill does not define what constitutes “good faith” %%


* J Balaji, Parliament nod for Right to Education Bill, The Hindu, http://www.hindu.com/2009/08/05/stories/2009080558780100.htm

** Akshaya Mukul, The Times of India,
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Bill-making-free-education-fundamental-right-gets-cabinet-nod/articleshow/4730147.cms

%$ PRS Legislative Research,
http://prsindia.org/index.php?name=Sections&action=bill_details&id=6&bill_id=199&category=43&parent_category=1

%% Clauses dilute school bill penal provisions by Charu Sudan Kasturi, http://telegraphindia.com/1090724/jsp/frontpage/story_11276066.jsp

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Detailed below is a [inside]Brief account of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill's turbulent journey[/inside]:

• In 2002, the 86th Constitutional Amendment was passed.

• In 2003, the first draft of the Right to Education bill was circulated for public

• In 2004, the second draft of the bill, drafted after consideration of the feedback to the first draft, was posted on the Education Department website.

• In June 2005, the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) committee drafted the ‘Right to Education Bill' and submitted to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). MHRD sent it to the National Advisory Council (NAC) where Mrs. Sonia Gandhi was the Chairperson. The NAC sent the Bill to the Prime Minister for his observation.

• In July 2006, the finance committee and planning commission rejected the Bill citing the lack of funds and a Model bill was sent to states for the making necessary arrangements. (Post-86th amendment, States had already cited lack of funds at State level)

• The States promptly sent the model bill back to the Centre citing lack of funds.The bill was virtually buried for two years.

• In February, 2008 the Ministry of Human Resource Development circulated another draft of the bill.

• In August, 2008 the Union Cabinet referred the Right to Education Bill to the Group of Ministers (GoM), a high-powered group of ministers formed to look into operationalising the Fundamental Right to Education.

• On October 31, 2008 the Union Cabinet cleared a revised draft of the bill, as yet unreleased to the public. The GoM had passed on the draft to the Cabinet earlier that month.

• On 1 November, 2008, the Union Cabinet cleared the long-pending Right to Education Bill, which promises free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14.

• On 15 December, 2008 the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha and released to the public on the Rajya Sabha website.

• On 18 February, 2009 the Standing Committee released its report of recommendations and placed it before both the houses of Parliament, which were in session at the time.

• On 26 February, 2009 the Parliament ended its budget session without passing the bill.

• On 20 July, 2009 the Rajya Sabha passed the bill with minor changes to the 2008 draft bill.

• On 4 August, 2009 the Lok Sabha passed the bill.  

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According to the figures provided by CRY, NGO Global March Against Child Labour, and UNICEF, http://www.indiatogether.org/2005/oct/edu-rightedu.htm:

• Only 53 per cent of all habitations have a primary school

• On an average, an upper primary school is 3 km away in 22 percent of habitations

• More than 50 percent of the girls in the country do not enrol in schools

• When working outside the family, children put in an average of 21 hours of labour per week, at the cost of education

• 60 million children are thought to be child labourers

• More than 35 million children in the 6-14 age group are out of school

• Only 45.8 percent girls complete education in rural areas as compared to 66.3 percent boys. In urban areas, 66.3 percent girls complete education as opposed to 80.3 percent boys

• Of the seven lakh rural schools, only one in six have toilets

According to the Indian Constitution,
http://www.right-to-education.org/country-node/353/country-constitutional

* Art. 21A. 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. (EIGHTY-SIXTH AMENDMENT ACT, 2002)

* Act. 41. Right to work, to education and to public assistance in certain cases. The State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want.

* Art. 45. Provision for free and compulsory education for children. 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

* The State shall endeavour to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years. (EIGHTY-SIXTH AMENDMENT ACT, 2002)

* Art. 46. Promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections.

* The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation

* Art. 51A (k) who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or, as the case may be, ward between the age of six and fourteen years. (EIGHTY-SIXTH AMENDMENT ACT, 2002)

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According to various sources of newspapers,
http://infochangeindia.org/200812177540/Education/News/Right-to-Education-Bill-introduced-in-Rajya-Sabha.html:
 
• Following the recommendations of Saikia Committee, the government has introduced 83rd Constitutional Amendment Bill in Parliament in 1997 to make right to education from 6-14 years a fundamental right.

• The Supreme Court in its judgment in Unnikrishnan's case (1993) has already held that citizens of India have a fundamental right to education upto 14 years of age

• The Right to Education Bill is the enabling legislation to notify the 86th constitutional amendment that gives every child between the age of six and 14 the right to free and compulsory education. But it has been 61 years in the making

(Read the full text of the Bill at:
http://educationforallinindia.com/RighttoEducationBill2005.pdf)

• It was only in 2002 that education was made a fundamental right in the 86th amendment to the Constitution. In 2004, the government in power, the NDA, drafted a Bill but lost the elections before it could be introduced..

What is it?

• The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2008, was an enabling legislation without which the fundamental right -- enacted by Parliament in December 2002 – could not come into effect.

• The 86th constitutional amendment passed in Parliament six years ago made free and compulsory education for children between the ages of 6 and 14 a fundamental right. Besides giving every child in this age-group the right to free and compulsory education, the Bill also seeks to evolve norms and standards for primary education, complete with minimum qualifications for teachers, pupil-teacher ratio, and a ban on private tuitions by teachers.

• The statement of object and reasons clearly explains the aim of the legislation: ‘The proposed legislation is anchored in the belief that the values of equality, social justice and democracy and the creation of a just and humane society can be achieved only through provision of inclusive elementary education to all.’

• The statement adds: ‘The provision of free and compulsory education of satisfactory quality to children from disadvantaged and weaker sections is, therefore, not merely the responsibility of schools run or supported by the appropriate governments, but also of schools which are not dependent on government funds.’

• The Bill provides that no child be denied admission for lack of age proof. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that every child in the target age-group has access to a school in the neighbourhood within three years of the law’s enactment.

• The Bill also tries to rope in the private sector by making it mandatory for schools to reserve 25% of the seats in Class 1 every year for children from disadvantaged sections of society in the neighbourhood. The government will reimburse the education expenses of these students.

• The Bill prohibits the charging of capitation fees, making it a punishable offence with fines up to 10 times the capitation fee charged. It also prohibits screening of either parents or children at the time of admission; fines as high as Rs 25,000 will be levied for the first contravention and Rs 50,000 for subsequent contraventions. Detention or expulsion from any class until the completion of elementary education, and physical punishment, are also not permitted. None of this is expected to sit well with the private school lobby.

Right to Education Bill cleared in November 2008

More than six decades after Independence, the Indian government has cleared the Right to Education Bill that makes free and compulsory education a fundamental right for all children between the ages of 6 and 14

Key provisions of the Bill include:

• 25% reservation in private schools for disadvantaged children from the neighbourhood, at the entry level. The government will reimburse expenditure incurred by schools.

• No donation or capitation fee on admission.

• No interviewing the child or parents as part of the screening process

• The Bill also prohibits physical punishment, expulsion or detention of a child, and deployment of teachers for non-educational purposes other than census or election duty and disaster relief. Running a school without recognition will attract penal action.

• The draft Bill aims to provide elementary schools in every neighbourhood within three years -- though the word “school” encompasses a whole spectrum of structures. A set of minimum norms have been worked out as there’s the usual barrier of paperwork in remote rural and poor urban areas. The State is also obliged to tide over any financial compulsions that may keep a child out of school.

• The Right to Education Bill is the enabling legislation to notify the 86th constitutional amendment that gives every child between the age of six and 14 the right to free and compulsory education. But it has been 61 years in the making.

• Critics of the Bill question the age provision. They say children below six years and above 14 should be included. Also, the government has not addressed the issue of shortage of teachers, low skill levels of many teachers, and lack of educational infrastructure in existing schools let alone the new ones that will have to be built and equipped.