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The Right of Children to Free and Complete Education Act, 2009

To provide free and compulsory education to children has been a long cherished dream first envisaged by our constitution makers and they provided for the same under article 45 of the constitution. This directive principle of state policy urges the state to endeavour to provide for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years. Though the time period specified within article 45 is that of 10 years from the commencement of the constitution, the first concrete step in the direction was taken only in 2002 with the enactment of the 86th amendment to the Constitution.

Background:

The 86th Constitutional Amendment was passed in December 2002. It provided for insertion of Art 21A, emanating from Art 21 being the Fundamental Right to Life. Art 21A provides for free and compulsory education to children in the 6-14 age group as a Fundamental Right in the Constitution of India. Consequent to this insertion the existing Art 45 in the Directive Principles was replaced and made applicable to children in the 0-6 age group.

This was followed up by several draft bills on the part of the government, the last of which reached the Parliament. The different draft bills are mentioned herewith:

  • 2003: The Free and Compulsory Education For Children Bill, 2003

  • 2004: The Free and Compulsory Education For Children Bill, 2004

  • 2005: The Right to Education Bill, 2005 (CABE Bill)

  • 2005: The Right to Education Bill, 2005 (August)

  • 2006: The Model Right to Education Bill, 2006

  • 2008/9: The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2008

The last of these bills was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 16th December, 2008. The bill was passed in the upper house and was consequently introduced in the Lok Sabha where it was passed on 4th August, 2009 thus leading to the enactment of The Right of Children to Free and Complete Education Act, 2009.

Features:

  • Right of Children to free and compulsory admission, attendance and completion of elementary education (section 3)

  • Compulsion on state and not on parents

  • Special training for children so that they can join a class appropriate to their age as it can be traumatic for children to sit in class with younger children. (s. 4)

  • Follows a no-detention policy; no child to be declared failed; no expulsion (s. 16)

  • Bars corporal punishment; no mental harassment (s. 17)

  • No board exams till completion of elementary education (s. 30)

  • The Act provides a period of five years for all untrained teachers to acquire the requisite qualifications as there is a lack of trained teachers. A generation cannot remain uneducated just because there is lack of qualified educators. (s. 23)

  • Lays down academic responsibilities of teachers: that they shall attend school regularly, in time, transact the curriculum, provide remedial teaching, where required, ensure contact with the parents of children. (s. 24)

  • It prohibits private tuition – in the hope that this will ensure that teachers spend more time in school (s. 28)

  • No teacher is to be deployed for any non-educational purposes other than the

  • decennial population census, disaster relief duties or duties relating to elections to the local authority or the State Legislatures or Parliament, as the case may be. (s. 27)

  • Teacher found in default of such rules is liable to disciplinary action (s. 24)

  • infrastructure – all weather schools; Infrastructure norms also include provision for drinking water and toilets

  • One class per teacher – so there isn’t a situation of two teachers, each teaching two-three classes, and sharing the same room. Teacher pupil-ratio to be as specified in the schedule (s. 25)

  • Ensure free and compulsory education

  • Provide schools in neighbourhood within 3 years

  • Children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups not to be discriminated against

  • Infrastructure, school building, teaching staff, learning equipment

  • Monitoring of admission, attendance, completion of EE

Objectives:

The Act seeks to achieve ten broad objectives which include free and compulsory education, obligation on the part of state to provide education, nature of curriculum consistent with Constitution, quality, focus on social responsibility and obligation of teachers and de-bureaucratisation in admissions.

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