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Right to Education is set to expand its horizon

Context:

  • The Right to Education quota for the 2018–19 is set to have an expansion in number of schools.

What is in news?

  • The State government is planning to ensure that aided schools too start reserving seats for students from weaker sections in the neighbourhood.

What is the objective of the expansion?

  • The expansion aims at improving the efficacy of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
  • It will also ensure that the right beneficiaries are selected.
  • It will encompass a large part of the weaker section of the country.

Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009:

  • On April 12, 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the Constitutional validity of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009.
  • It describes the modalities of the importance of free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 in India under Article 21a of the Indian Constitution.
  • India became one of 135 countries to make education a fundamental right of every child when the Act came into force on 1 April 2010.
  • It mandates a minimum of 25% free seats for children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups (EWS) in all private unaided primary schools.
  • In particular, Section 12 (1)(c) of the RTE Act stipulates that the 25% reservation be implemented while admitting students to Class 1.
  • Children are admitted in to private schools based on economic status or caste based reservations.
  • It also prohibits all unrecognised schools from practice.
  • It makes provisions for no donation or capitation fees and no interview of the child or parent for admission.
  • The Act also provides that no child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until the completion of elementary education.
  • There is also a provision for special training of school drop-outs to bring them up to par with students of the same age.

Reservation category:

  • The reservation comprises of 11 categories:
  • Orphans, children with HIV, children with special needs, migrant and street children, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Categories I, IIA, IIB, IIIA and IIIB.

What are government aided schools?

  • Government aided schools are the education institutions that are owned by the private management.
  • But the rules and regulations followed here are same as that of the public schools.
  • The curriculum, study materials, syllabus, examinations, etc. for each class of education are done according to the government rules.
  • The fee structure, PTA fund, etc will be collected from the students according to the rules formulated by the government for each school.

What are government schools?

  • Government schools are those which are completely owned and control by the government.
  • The government is in charge of the curriculum, study materials, fee structure, syllabus, examinations, etc. of these schools.

Despite considerable efforts by the government schools of the country, why is it not able to strengthen Right to Education?

  • RTE’s biggest drawback is its heavy focus on inputs while effectively ignoring outputs.
  • Data shows that even poor parents prefer to send their children to budget private schools instead of government schools which are free of cost.
  • Studies also have shown private schools are more cost-effective than government schools and deliver slightly better learning outcomes.
  • Many such schools, which barely charged a few hundred rupees in student fees, have been shuttered since they could no longer afford the RTE requirements.

Way ahead:

  • The government should make sure that the expansion is under proper surveillance so that no corruption takes place.
  • Other than the expansion in reservation, there can be many other coherent methods to increase the enrolment rate.
  • Scholarships, fiscal incentives to the parent, awareness drive are some of the plausible options.
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