Study on Right to Education in India

Article for Blog Post Writing Competition 2011 | by Akansha Rai and Shivani Rana

May 26th, 20111:34 pm

Education in India has a history stretching back to the ancient urban centers of learning at Taxila and Nalanda. Education emancipates the human beings and leads to liberation from ignorance. According to Pestalozzi “education is a constant process of development of innate powers of man which are natural, harmonious and progressive.” It is said that in the Twenty First Century, ‘a nation’s ability to convert knowledge into wealth and social good through the process of innovation is going to determine it’s future.” Accordingly twenty first century is termed as century of knowledge.

Education is the basic right which must be granted to all for the proper development of the nation because it increases the productivity of the citizens of that country and thus is directly proportional to the welfare of the people.Education in India falls under the control of both the Union Government and the states, with some responsibilities lying with the Union and the states having autonomy for others. The various articles of the Indian Constitution provide for education as a fundamental right. Most universities in India are Union or State Government controlled.

There was also the provision in the constitution right from it’s commencement that is Article 45 which stated that it is the duty of state to provide free and compulsory education to children within the age group of 6-14 yrs of age. This provision was to be applicable for just 10 yrs after the commencement of the constitution. The members of the constituent assemblies though at that time in India would have completed this goal but there was no case regarding this issue and it was also that this article was under DPSP and thus was unenforceable in the court of law.

Then came the series of cases which established the right to education as a very important right and thus judicial activism has a very strong role in the formation of right to education as it stands today. The first case dealing with this was Mohini Jain v State of Karnataka, also known as “CAPITATION FEES” case(1). In this case the admission was denied to the student as she was unable to submit the high capitation fees. The SC for the first time said that right to education flows from right to life and personal liberty; that is from Article 21 of the constitution and held that it is thus the fundamental right of all.

After this a lot of problems aroused to the universities. Then in the case of UnniKrishnan V State of Andhra Pradesh(2): the universities asked the SC to review its decision in Mohini Jain V State of Andhra Pradesh. Thus the SC in this case partly overruled the Mohini jain case and held that although the right to education is fundamental but it limited the age-group of 6-14 yrs because it also took consideration of the state’s financial capacity.

Then later in TMA PAI foundation v State of Karnataka an 11 judge constitutional bench of the SC held that the decision in Unnikrishnan’s scheme relating to the grant of admission and fixing of fees was not correct and was thus to that extend overruled(3). According to court such institutions may charge high fees for their development, but there should not be the element of profiteering.

The 86th amendment in the constitution is very vital. The changes made by this amendment were:-

  • Article 45 of the constitution which earlier stated the free and compulsory education of the children for 10 yrs after commencement of the constitution was amended and it now provides for the early childhood care and education to children up to the age of 6yrs.
  • Clause (k) was incorporated in the article 51A which imposed the fundamental duty on the parent or guardian to provide educational opportunities to his child or ward between the age of 6 and 14 yrs.
  • Article 21A was incorporated in the constitution which made the right to education as fundamental right to all children of age 6-14 yrs.

The private education market in India is estimated to be worth $40 billion in 2008 and will increase to $68 billion by 2012. Despite growing investment in education, 35% of the population is illiterate and only 15% of the students reach high school. As of 2008, India’s post-secondary high schools offer only enough seats for 7% of India’s college-age population, 25% of teaching positions nationwide are vacant, and 57% of college professors lack either a master’s or PhD degree.

The Right of children to free and compulsory education act 1999 (RTE Act) unanimously passed by the parliament in August 2009 and became effective on 1st April 2010. The act consists of 7 chapters and 38 sections. Under the act S.3 specifically says about free and compulsory education. A mere five of the 28 states of the Indian Union which are obliged to implement the provisions of the Act within their jurisdictions have notified Rules for implementing the Act.  According to the act all the children in the age group of 6-14 years will be provided 8 years of elementary education in an appropriate classroom in the vicinity of his neighbourhood and the cost of facilitating education to a child will be borne by the State. All schools will have to prescribe to norms and standards laid out in the Act and no school that does not fulfil these standards within 3 years will be allowed to function. Also the unrecognized private schools operating in the country will have to apply for recognition, failing which they will be penalized to the tune of Rs1 lac and if they still continue to function will be liable to pay Rs.10,000 per day as fine. The government has also taken a number of steps to implement the provisions of the Act.

It has committed Rs.231,233 crore to be shared between the Central and state governments over a five-year period for implementation of the Act. It has revised the existing norms and introduced new norms for its flagship programme, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, to ensure all children access and complete elementary education.The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) was created to be the nodal authority to monitor the proper implementation of this historic amendment in the constitution. Norms and standards of teacher qualification and training are also being laid down by an Academic Authority. Teachers in all schools will have to subscribe to these norms within 5 years. Very soon a special toll free helpline number will be set up by NCPCR for this purpose. Under s.10 of the act it’s the duty of the parent or guardian to admit the child or the ward to elementary education. Capitation fees and screening procedure is also prohibited under S.13 of the act which is very essential for proper development of this incentive of the government.

The act provides many rights to the child like there cannot be the denial of admission

of the child and the child shall not be physically punished or mentally harassed.

Thus the government has taken these important step to realize it’s goal of achieving maximum literacy in the state. But these rules and regulation should be properly executed and followed by all in order to make India a wholly literate and developed nation.


(1) (1992)3 SCC 666

(2) (1993)1 SCC 645

(3) AIR 2003 SC 355


Article by-

Akansha Rai and Shivani Rana

Students, Amity University

[Submitted as an entry for the Blog Post Writing Competition, 2011]

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