Nelson Mandela says, "Education
is the single most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Since the beginning of human history, education has evolved over time. Making
education accessible to children is one of the first steps towards India's
In 2009, the enactment of the
Right to Education (RTE) by the government, allowed free and compulsory
education to all children from six to fourteen years. The word "free" meaning,
that no child will bear any financial expenses that will prevent him from
pursuing his primary education.
RTE requires private schools to
reserve 25% seats for the children of low income families. India was finally
witnessing a formation of Fundamental Right in terms of education. The Act was
supposed to be a game changer and an important milestone in the history of
education. However, RTE is yet to witness its completion and at a closer look
several loopholes, come to the fore.
The government further regulated
that the students up to Class VIII will be allowed to go to the next class even
though they are not eligible for promotion and they also cannot be expelled.
RTE may have an altruistic motive but isn't it a little risky to only aim at
bringing up the literacy rates and not improve the quality of education in our
country? The students fail to take their learning seriously because they know
they will get a promotion anyway. Many leave schools without any knowledge or
Ambarish Rai, a right to
education activist and national convener of the RTE said, "The government is
trying to say that by doing away with the no detention policy, they can improve
quality of education whereas they are running away from their responsibilities
of improving teaching in schools." Usha Ram, an educationist and former principal
of Laxman Public School believes that students face difficulty in Class IX and
X. She says, "Abolishing no-detention will help students learn to cope."
In January 2019, Parliament
decided to abolish the "no detention policy". The states are given a choice and
they can hold an examination at the end of Class V or Class VIII or both. If a
student fails, they are given an opportunity to reappear in the examination
within two months' time. However, the state has the choice to either use or
scrap the "no detention policy". Union Human Resource Development Minister
Prakash Javadekar says that 25 states started demanding the right to change the "No detention" policy and hence the amendment of the Bill ensued.
Children are the future of the
nation but the real question at hand here is, "What happens to those children
once they cross the age of fourteen?" The Right to Education not only lacks a
proper implementation but is also failing a child. Is the government going to
leave their task unconsummated by only giving free education till Class VIII?
The students hailing from the
weaker sections of the society and disadvantaged groups, who are studying under
the RTE quota are facing difficulty in continuing their education after Class
VIII because they are only left with a choice to pay the fees, dropout of
school or join a government school. There is a high dropout rate after Class
VIII in many of the states in our country.
In the table above, we see that
in 2014-15 the dropout rates are elevated from Class IX to X. After all, what
is the point of the whole progress, if the dropout rate keeps increasing after
Class VIII? Does RTE even make any difference to our lives?
The 2016-17 statistics of the
United District Information System for Education shows that in Bihar 39%
students withdrew from schools after Class VIII as compared to 25% in the
previous year and in Jharkhand, the dropout rate was 12% more than the previous
Further, a petition has been
filed by NGO Social Jurist seeking free education for students up to Class XII
under RTE, in private unaided schools. The Delhi High Court asked the
Central government to file a status report on extension of the RTE. The matter
is said to be under consideration and the new government will hopefully be taking
RTE is no way a practical method
to promote education and literacy. Looking at only short term benefits will not
help India towards expansion. The 25% reservation by private schools is a
laudable idea. But the main challenge is the attitude of the administration.
Further, in many schools the teachers are ignorant of the subjects and do not
cater to the needs of the children. It is ironical that the RTE has turned a
blind eye to an exceedingly crucial issue: teachers' training and education
Many private schools overload
parents with ancillary expenses of books and uniforms, when the RTE strictly
says that no fee will be charged. A number of parents logged a complaint in
Bhopal stating that the school had asked them to pay the fees and citied reason
that they are not covered any longer under the RTE scheme. District education
officer D.K.Sharma said that an inquiry had been set up and that such a case
would help them ascertain if other schools were indulging in the same practice.
Further, there were numerous
Right to Education frauds, denoting that many schools have discovered that the
parents submitted fake income certificates so that they could use the RTE
quota. In this way people who actually need the seat are deprived of an
India has one third of the
world's illiterates. The RTE act may have been an important milestone but the
Act has not done justice when it comes to the quality of education. If 47% of
children in Class V can read a Class II level text, then we cannot come to a
conclusion that India's literacy rates have come up. Right to Education is an
inalienable human right and the power to pave way towards development is in our
The UPA led government in 2009
tried to bring about a change in the system by making education achievable for
most. They tried to make all schools RTE compliant. It's been ten years now and
we can finally say that they were looking at only short term benefits. Praveen
Dalal, a Supreme Court lawyer said, "The Right to Education was drafted in
haste and without much deliberation."
The RTE act needs clarity and
its issues need to be revisited. Only then can every child take a step towards
fulfilling their dreams.