[Answered] Discuss various provisions of RTE act. Why it has failed to reform education system in India.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Various provisions of RTE act. Reasons for its failure.
Conclusion. Way forward.

RTE Act was introduced in 2009. Even after 10 years education in India is in poor state. ASER report suggest that although enrolment in schools has been increased, education quality is still poor with poor attendance and increased drop out rates.

Right to Education (RTE) Act:

  1. This act is an incarnation of  Article 21-A, which says that every child has a right to full time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a formal school which satisfies certain essential norms and standards.
  2. Act provide that every child in the age group of 6 to 14 years has Right to elementary education. They are entitled for free and compulsory education.
  3. It clarifies that ‘compulsory education’ means obligation of the appropriate government to provide free elementary education and ensure compulsory admission, attendance and completion of elementary education to every child in the six to fourteen age group.
  4. 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.
  5. It makes provisions for a non-admitted child to be admitted to an age appropriate class.
  6. It specifies the duties and responsibilities of appropriate Governments, local authority and parents in providing free and compulsory education, and sharing of financial and other responsibilities between the Central and State Governments.
  7. It lays down the norms and standards related to Pupil Teacher Ratios (PTRs), buildings and infrastructure, school-working days, teacher-working hours.
  8. It provides for rational deployment of teachers by ensuring that the specified pupil teacher ratio is maintained for each school, rather than just as an average for the State or District or Block, thus ensuring that there is no urban-rural imbalance in teacher postings.
  9. It also provides for prohibition of deployment of teachers for non-educational work, other than decennial census, elections to local authority, state legislatures and parliament, and disaster relief.
  10. It provides for appointment of appropriately trained teachers, i.e. teachers with the requisite entry and academic qualifications.

Reasons of failure of RTE Act:

  1. Discrimination: According to the 2011 Census, the average literacy rates of people aged above 15 among Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) are about 9% and 17.4% less than the national average, respectively. The female literacy rate is 19.5% less than that of males. This difference indicate the double discrimination faced by Dalit and Adivasi women.
  2. High dropout rates: The dropout rates are high, especially among SCs and STs and more girls discontinue schooling than boys.
  3. Wrong focus: More focus is on infrastructure than on quality of education. Although infrastructure is important, education quality is also important for country’s education policy system.
  4. Lack of awareness: Many people do not know about the act. Thus prevent them to reap benefits provided under the act. Lack of awareness about the Act is major issue in rural areas.
  5. Pupil Teacher Ratio: It has been debated that maintenance of a favourable pupil-teacher ratio is important to enhance the quality of education. The smaller the size of a class, the more attention a teacher can pay to each individual student’s requirements. India has poor pupil to teacher ratio. Facts reveal that about 1 Lakh schools are run by a single teacher.

RTE Act has failed to recognise the cause of the education crisis in the country is low quality education ascertained by low learning outcomes of students. The provisions must be revisited with the view that the education sector is only as strong as the potential human capital it seeks to develop. Without improving learning outcomes, the RTE Act, 2009 will remain a symbolic gesture of government reform misaligned with the issues of the education sector and ineffective in eradicating the education crisis that plagues the country.