An Act to put into effect the Right to Free and Compulsory Education
to All Children in the Age Group of Six to Fourteen Years
The Right to food, Right to Information, and Right to education are considered to be fundamental and crucial rights for social well-being and transparent governance. The promise of guaranteed employment (i.e. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act-MNREGA) and Right to Information Act 2005 have already come into force earlier. Now the RTE Act 2009 has also come into force w.e.f. 1st April 2010.
It must be recalled that after India’s independence , when the founding fathers first recognized education under the directive principle of state policy (DPSP) as the state shall endeavor to provide within a period of ten years from the commencement of this constitution for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years (erstwhile Article 45), this was the only article in the constitution to have a concrete time frame of ten years .Yet , evidence shows neither the stipulated time frame respected nor the issue given due importance for a long span of time .
There are various political, economical, infrastructural and social impact and implications of this RTE Act 2009 .One of the most contentious issues related to the RTE has been finance perhaps this constraint prevented constitution makers to list education under directive principle and culmination into RTE Act delayed to this extent. In these deliberations we will be highlighting only social impacts and implications of the road expected during the travel of this RTE Act 2009.
The RTE Act aims at Free and Compulsory education for all children from six to fourteen years .But as a matter of fact that a child can not directly embark upon sixth year for elementary education as provisioned in the RTE Act 2009 rather the child will have to be shaped from very inception of his entity. Secondly according to the Act the child has to go to the school for a certain period of time only and will come back again in the atmosphere where he/she is living in shelter or shelter less homes. As an obvious fact learning being a natural and incessant process which has to continue both at school as well as at home or while playing with peer group.
Hence conditioning of learning outcomes can not only be controlled by schools but also be influenced by the socio-economic conditions in which the child lives. Now this is the bottleneck where differences or counter productiveness have to emerge. Because in various deliberations in respect of equal education system, or common school systems are raised but unless the grey areas beyond the schooling are taken into account, it will leave their counter-productive impacts on the expectations from the RTE Act. Thus sooner or later feasible and integrated child development strategy will have to be evolved over and above this RTE Act.
However RTE Act will definitely break the inertia and create a momentum of thoughts in prioritizing the need of elementary education and setting a trend of urgency to evolve ways & means to fulfill well established fundamental need i.e. Right to education.
Obviously there is no doubt about it that RTI Act 2005 and RTE Act 2009; both Acts are expected to be the instruments of change. We are aware of the deep rooted problems prevailing in Government machinery as well as in people at large. Both the stakeholders are deteriorating each other .When the poor governance on the part of government machinery give rise to the society of ill conceived, ill mannered, incredible, irresponsible and disgusting individuals and in return such degraded society produces & fosters government role players of substandard quality. Consequently a vicious cycle is created between government machinery and population reinforcing bad qualities of each other. However, RTI Act 05 seems to be functioning like an apparatus of dialysis for government machinery and RTE Act will function as an apparatus of dialysis for the societies.
Still making education a fundamental right is surely a step in right direction to address the anomalies and disparities of elementary education in India. It gives legislative framework through which we can question and improve the education system .Nevertheless the proper implementation, monitoring and evaluation of improving quality of public schools, enhanced public-private participation, enhancement of access and adequate quality of education to all children and thereby achieving the goal of Universal Elementary Education has to go a long way.
Student, National Law University, Orissa
[Submitted as an entry for the MightyLaws.in Blog Post Writing Competition, 2011]