India’s Constitution has requirements to ensure the state offers schooling to all its people. The right to education is the only freedom that takes its position in three sections of our Constitution-Fundamental Rights, State Policy Directive Concepts and Fundamental Duties. The Constitution (Eighty-Sixth) Amendment Act, 2002 incorporated the three articles in one of the three above-mentioned sections.
The 86th amendment added Article 21-A, a fundamental right which states that – ‘The State shall provide free and compulsory education for all children between the ages of six and fourteen in the manner that the State may decide by statute’
As we saw, in Unni Krishnan, J.P v. the State of A.P, the court had recognised the constitutional right of each child to free mandatory primary education up to the age of 14, as provided for in then Article 45. However, to ensure that this right is sufficiently and effectively realized, and to reassert national will and commitment in this respect..
Article 45 earlier read as ‘The State shall strive to provide free and mandatory schooling for all infants, within ten years from the beginning of this Constitution, before they attain the age of fourteen,’ which is now supplemented with the following: ‘The State shall strive to provide all infants with early childhood care and schooling before they attain the age of six.’
Article 51-A section (k) has been inserted – ‘(k) who is a father or guardian offering educational services to his or her child or, as the case may be, ward between the ages of six and 14.’
RIGHT TO EDUCATION ACT–
Indian constitution originally established education as a matter of the state. In 1976, however, an amendment was introduced pursuant to Article 42 which rendered education a subject of the concurrent list. This requires the central government to legislate on educational issues in the manner relevant to that. Nearly eight years after the Constitution was changed by the 86th Amendment Act to make education a constitutional right, from 1 April 2010, the Government of India introduced the legislation ensuring free and mandatory education for all children in the 6-14 year age group.
‘The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act’ or ‘Right to Education Act’ is an Act of the Parliament of India which was enacted on 4 August 2009. It describes the procedures and also explains the importance of free and compulsory education for children between the ages of 6 and 14 years in India under Article 21A of the Indian Constitution. This Act makes it a right of every child to get an education. The Act allows it mandatory for the respective governments to ensure that any child aged 6-14 years of age gets free primary education. The Act requires even private educational institutions from poorer parts to allocate 25 per cent of seats for the students. The government’s estimate found out that there will be a requirement for Rs 1.71 lakh crores to implement the Act in the next five years.
The Act further stipulates that no school will refuse a student entry, and that all schools are expected to have teachers that are well educated and experienced. In the case of those schools who do not have qualified staff, they would have to meet within three years with this rule. The classrooms will still provide certain basic equipment to help provide the children a healthy learning environment. There would be simple essential amenities including sufficient students, park, and services. The government will develop some mechanism to help marginalized schools comply with the Law. The government had designed and developed model rules for the states to draft their own rules for the enforcement of the Act. The Center itself had established specific laws for the regions of the Union. Nevertheless, when the admission season was almost over, the quota for the poorer group had not been enforced from the year of introduction. It was brought into practice from 2011-12. Establishing primary schools within walking distance of one km from the community was addressed to the state government and local authorities. In the situations of students enrolled in class VI through VIII, the school for students will be within walking distance of the area three km north.·
Right to Education Act: SOME CONSIDERATIONS–
While the Right to Education Act legalizes the universal right to quality education, this act is quiet on through policy education outlay. Instead, it transfers the burden of ‘bad students’ to private schools which is clear from the reservation provision of 25 per cent. During the past, concerns within private organizations have also raised several complaints. Rather of the fair and impartial education based on shared integrity explicitly laid out in the amendment, such a clause cuts out the vulnerable as a community and thus exacerbates the social inequalities that already exist throughout our cultureThe Act therefore extends its application to children between the ages of 6 and 14, moving on from the lines of the Constitutional Amendment.
Another important point of consideration is that educating children up to Class 8 is hardly enough to either prepare a child with the basic skills needed and important for gainful employment or even make an individual equipped to function with a basic degree of self-sufficiency and empowerment in this competitive world.
It is, after all, the right to education provision, not the right to literacy and numeracy alone. Education is far more than pure literacy, and aims at an individual’s full all-round growth. High educational requirements are given and extended to all children by restricting the availability of free education only to grades 1 to 8. This is a move that is adversely influencing and harming the weakest section of society. Selecting the 6-14 age ranges may be considered unfair, and it rather does not do justice to the country’s commitment to make schooling open, affordable and appropriate to its citizens.
This blog is written by Arvind Bhati, Lloyd Law College.
Some of Arvind Blogs-
- Writs under the Indian Constitution
- Preventive Detention
- Abolition of Titles (Article 18)
- Right to Assembly
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