From April 1st , education becomes a fundamental right.

Our rights

What does 'Children's Rights' actually mean? Does it mean you can do what you like, behave as you like, and no one can stop you? Hmm, you wish! Seriously though, if you are reading this, chances are that you already have your basic rights – you are alive, you are protected, you are getting an education, and you have a chance to express yourself and be heard. But you know that not all children in this world have these rights. You have seen such children around you, and you feel not so good about it. That's why you are reading this, right?

From April 1st , education becomes a fundamental right.
National endeavour: Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal 
addresses journalists on the landmark Right to Education Bill, in New Delhi on Wednesday.

NEW DELHI: On Thursday — April 1 — India will join a group of few countries in the world, with a historic law making education a fundamental right of every child coming into force.

Making elementary education an entitlement for children in the 6-14 age group, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 will directly benefit close to one crore children who do not go to school at present.

In an unprecedented move, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday will address the nation, announcing the operationalisation of the Act.

“Tomorrow [Thursday] is a historic day as the Right to Education Act comes into effect. For the first time, education will become a constitutional right. It is a tryst with destiny in the area of education,” Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters. He said it was the responsibility of all stakeholders to enforce it. 

“But to think that we have passed a law and all children will get educated is not right. What we have done is preparing a framework to get quality education. It is for the entire community to contribute and participate in this national endeavour,” he said.

Nearly 92 lakh children, who had either dropped out of schools or never been to any educational institution, will get elementary education as it will be binding on the part of the local and State governments to ensure that all children in the 6-14 age group get schooling.

As per the Act, private educational institutions should reserve 25 per cent seats for children from the weaker sections of society.

The Centre and the States have agreed to share the financial burden in the ratio of 55:45, while the Finance Commission has given Rs. 25,000 crore to the States for implementing the Act. The Centre has approved an outlay of Rs.15,000 crore for 2010-2011 for the purpose.

The school management committee or the local authority will identify the drop-outs or out-of-school children aged above six and admit them in classes appropriate to their age after giving special training.

News courtesy: THE HINDU.


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

The passing of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009 marks a historic moment for the children of India. 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. 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’? 

All children between the ages of 6 and 14 will have the right to free and compulsory elementary education at a neighbourhood school. There is no direct cost (school fees) or indirect cost (uniforms, textbooks, midday meals, transportation, etc) 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 the role envisaged for the community and parents to ensure RTE? 

Schools will constitute School Management Committees (SMCs) comprising local authority officials, parents, guardians and teachers. The SMCs will form School Development Plans and monitor the utilization of government grants and the whole school environment. RTE also mandates the inclusion of 50% women and parents of children from disadvantaged groups in SMCs. Such community participation will be crucial to ensuring a child-friendly “whole school” environment through separate toilet facilities for girls and boys and adequate attention to health, water, sanitation and hygiene issues. 

How does RTE promote child-friendly schools? 

All schools must comply with infrastructure and teacher norms for an effective learning environment. Two trained teachers will be provided for every 60 students at the primary level. Teachers are required to attend school regularly and punctually, complete curriculum instruction, assess learning abilities and hold regular parent-teacher meetings. The number of teachers will be based on the number of students rather than by grade. The state will ensure adequate support to teachers, leading to improved learning for children. The community and civil society will have an important role to play in collaboration with the SMCs to ensure school quality with equity. The state will provide the policy framework and create an enabling environment to ensure RTE becomes a reality for every child. 

How will RTE be financed and implemented in India? 

Central and state governments will share financial responsibility for RTE. The central government will prepare estimates of expenditures. State governments will be provided a percentage of these costs. The central government may request the Finance Commission to consider providing additional resources to a state in order to carry out the provisions of RTE. The state government will be responsible for providing the remaining funds needed to implement. There will be a funding gap which needs to be supported by partners from civil society, development agencies, corporate organizations and citizens of the country. 

What are the key issues for achieving RTE? 

RTE has been notified by the central government on April 1, 2010. Model rules for states have already been finalized while those for the Union territories are in an advanced stage. RTE provides a ripe platform to reach the unreached, with 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 economic, geographical, linguistic, gender or such other factor.” RTE focuses on the quality of teaching and learning, which requires accelerated efforts and substantial reforms: 

* Creative and sustained initiatives are crucial to train more than one million new and untrained teachers in the next five years and to reinforce the skills of in-service teachers to ensure child-friendly education. 
* Families and communities also have a large role to play to ensure child-friendly education for each and every one of the estimated 190 million girls and boys in India who should be in elementary school today. 
* Disparities must be eliminated to assure quality with equity. Investing in preschool is a key strategy in meeting goals. 
* Bringing eight million out-of-school children into classes at the age appropriate level with the support to stay in school and succeed poses a major challenge necessitating flexible, innovative approaches. 

What is the mechanism available if RTE is violated? 

The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights will review the safeguards for rights provided under this act, investigate complaints and have the powers of a civil court in trying cases. States should constitute a State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) or the Right to Education Protection Authority (REPA) within six months of April 1. Any person wishing to file a grievance must submit a written complaint to the local authority. Appeals will be decided by the SCPCR/REPA. Prosecution of offences requires the sanction of an officer authorized by the appropriate government. 

How does RTE translate into action and become a reality? 

Substantial efforts are essential to eliminate disparities and ensure quality with equity. Unicef will play an instrumental role in bringing together relevant stakeholders from government, civil society, teachers’ organizations, media and the celebrity world. Unicef will mobilize partners to raise public awareness and provide a call to action. Policy and programme design/implementation will focus on improving the access and quality education based on what works to improve results for children. Unicef will also work with partners to strengthen national and state-level monitoring bodies on RTE.