Right of Children for Free and Compulsory Education Bill (RTE Bill)

The salient features of the Right of Children for Free and Compulsory Education Bill (RTE Bill) enacted in 2009 presented below described that most of the objectives are yet to be achieved in the real sense even though there is wide spread improvement in all the spheres of universalisation of school education in India achieved through the nation-wide Government of India’s flagship programme, namely Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) programme launched in the year 2000-01. Before SSA, the World Bank assisted District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) initiated in 1994-95 could cover 272 districts across 18 States of India.  Despite significant improvement in enrolment, still their a are few out-of-school children in addition to which still about 25 percent children used to drop out from the system before completion of primary level of education. In view of achievements of SSA, the programme was extended to secondary level of education in 2009 through Rastriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) but still most of the objectives of RTE and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan were still to be achieved.

  • Free and compulsory education to all children of India in the six to 14 age group;
  • No child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until completion of elementary education;
  • A child who completes elementary education (up to class shall be awarded a certificate;
  • Calls for a fixed student-teacher ratio;
  • Will apply to all of India except Jammu and Kashmir;
  • Provides for 25 percent reservation for economically disadvantaged communities in admission to Class One in all private schools;
  • Mandates improvement in quality of education;
  • School teachers will need adequate professional degree within five years or else will lose job;
  • School infrastructure (where there is problem) to be improved in three years, else recognition cancelled;
  • Financial burden will be shared between state and central government

Further, both the SSA and RMSA programmes were merged together into one programme, namely Samagra Shiksha in 2018-19 but the programme is yet to be implemented in true sense as most of the activities of previously launched programmes  still continuing without much change. Samagra Shiksha has a separate component for Right to Education 2009 but district plans are still being formulated based on the EXCEL Tables.

It is disheartening to observe that despite so many years of implementation of RTE significant number of schools still do not have requisite infrastructure as specified in RTE Act. Despite been emphasis of quality of teachers, the number of contractual teachers both in the terms of percentage and absolute number increased significantly across the country which is contrary to desire for improvement in quality of school education in terms of students ability to read and right. Financial burden will be shared between State and Centre was one of the other significant objective of RTE 2009 but in the real sense the contribution of center has gone down.

It is hoped that in years that follow efforts will be made to achieve the objectives of RTE 2009 for that purpose challenges being faced in implementation are required to be identified and plans are allowed to be formulated in the decentralized planning mode by the stakeholders.

State-of-the-Nation of Right to Education: Section-12-1-C-CSF, March 2015

Progress towards RTE Act as on April 1st, 2011

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009: The Gazette of India Notification (August 27, 2009)

Monitoring RTE: A Set of Indicators

Model Rules for Right to Children Act (Draft)(Please consult and refer original document)

Right to Education Bill 2008

Right to Education Bill 2005: I

Right to Education Bill 2005: II

Right to Education Bill 2005

Journey of Right to Education: A Historical Perspective

Analysis of Outcomes in Implementation of RTE Act: Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs

From right-to-Education to Right -to-Learning (N. V. Varghese, 2015)

The Right to Education (Final) Act, June 2014

Model Rules for Right to Children Act (Draft)

Requirement of Additional Teachers for Upper Primary Schools/Sections as per RTE (PDF)

Requirement of Additional Teachers for Upper Primary Schools/Sections as per RTE (Excel)

Results Framework Document: 2013-14, School Education

Results Framework Document: 2013-14, Higher Education Education

Results Framework Document: 2011-12, Department of School Education & Literacy

State-of-the-Nation of Right to Education: Section-12-1-C-CSF, March 2015

Aligning SSA Norms with the RTE Act, 2009

RTE India: Home Page

All India Forum for Right to Education

Home Page of Right to Education Project

Free Elementary Education through Child Rights Lens: Some Reflections by R. Govinda

The Right of Children to Free & Compulsory Education Act, 2009: The Story of Missed Opportunity by Muchkund Dubey

Deficit Childhoods by Shantha Sinha

Right to Education Bill 2005

Journey of Right to Education: A Historical Perspective

Analysis of Outcomes in Implementation of RTE Act: Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs

State-of-the-Nation of Right to Education: Section-12-1-C-CSF, March 2015

From right-to-Education to Right -to-Learning (N. V. Varghese, 2015)

The Right to Education (Final) Act, June 2014

Model Rules for Right to Children Act (Draft)

Requirement of Additional Teachers for Upper Primary Schools/Sections as per RTE (PDF)

Requirement of Additional Teachers for Upper Primary Schools/Sections as per RTE (Excel)

Education in Parliament

Results Framework Document: 2013-14, School Education

Results Framework Document: 2013-14, Higher Education Education

Results Framework Document: 2011-12, Department of School Education & Literacy

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan & Right to Education, A Critical Analysis, 2012 (Youth Ki Awaaz)

Selected Articles on Right to Education 2009 Act by Vinod Raina, Jyati Gosh, B.B. Mehta, Kranti Kapoor & Ashok Agarwal


Lok Sabha passes Right to Education Bill
August 4th, 2009

NEW DELHI – In a historic step, the Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2008.

The passing of the Bill allows children aged between 6 to 14 years to avail free and compulsory education as a fundamental right. The Bill, one of the flagship programmes in the 100-dayagenda of the UPA government, also earmarks 25 per cent seats to weaker sections in private schools. Rajya Sabha, the upper House of the Parliament, had already cleared the Bill. The Lok Sabha put its seal of approval on Tuesday. Human Resource Minister Kapil Sibal, speaking in the Lok Sabha, described the Bill as “harbinger of a new era for children to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

He said the Bill was a “historic opportunity” to provide a better future to children of the country as there was never such a landmark legislation in the last 62 years, since independence. “We as a nation cannot afford our children not going to schools,” Sibal asserted while noting that the measure details the obligations of the Centre and the States for providing free and compulsory education to children.

Main features of Right to Education 2009 Bill

The salient features of the Right of Children for Free and Compulsory Education Bill are –

  • Free and compulsory education to all children of India in the six to 14 age group;
  • No child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until completion of elementary education;
  • A child who completes elementary education (upto class shall be awarded a certificate;
  • Calls for a fixed student-teacher ratio;
  • Will apply to all of India except Jammu and Kashmir;
  • Provides for 25 percent reservation for economically disadvantaged communities in admission to Class One in all private schools;
  • Mandates improvement in quality of education;
  • School teachers will need adequate professional degree within five years or else will lose job;
  • School infrastructure (where there is problem) to be improved in three years, else recognition cancelled;
  • Financial burden will be shared between state and central government

306, Pleasant Apartments, Bazarghat, Hyderabad-4
Phone no. 04023305266

Prof. Anil Sadgopal Prof. G. Haragopal
Co-President Co-President


An Appeal (July 22, 2009)

Ms. Meira Kumar,
Honorable Speaker,
Lok Sabha, Parliament of India,
New Delhi

Dear Madam,

Sub: ‘The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2008’.

The National Seminar on Right to Education and Common School System held at Hyderabad on 21st and 22nd June 2009 urged upon the Central Government to replace the pending ‘Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2008’ with a Bill drafted in the framework of Common School System based on Neighborhood Schools. It is our considered view that this is the only framework which would ensure education of equitable quality to all children in consonance with the principles of equality before law (Article 14), guarantee against discrimination by the State (Article 15-1) and equal opportunity in public employment (Article 16) as enshrined in the Constitution. All member-organizations of the All India Forum for Right to Education (AIF-RTE) are opposing the Bill along with several other democratic organizations around the country for logically sound reasons (see below).

However, to our utter disappointment, the UPA Government did not heed the democratic voices in the country. The appeal for wider public debate on different provisions of the Bill has been repeatedly turned down. The Parliamentary Standing Committee also ignored democratic submissions. The Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha on 20th July 2009 without any consideration to the objections raised by some learned members of the House. The Union Government is rushing ahead with its 100-day neo-liberal agenda embedded in privatization and commercialization of education. As a last resort we appeal you and the members of the Lok Sabha to seriously ponder over our objections to the Bill before proceeding further with it. You would agree, we believe, that such a Bill will affect a nation for generations and petty political considerations must not be allowed to undermine it.

We bring to your notice that the Bill, instead of giving fundamental right to children, deprives them of the fundamental right already given to them by the Supreme Court through the Unnikrishnan Judgment (1993). Indeed, this Bill amounts to being not only anti-Constitutional, anti-educational and anti-child but also promoter of unabashed privatization and commercialization of school education.

The Supreme Court, through its historic Unnikrishnan Judgment (1993), declared ‘free and compulsory education’ a fundamental Right of all children until they complete the age of fourteen years (including the children below six years age) by reading Article 45 of Part IV of the Constitution in conjunction with Article 21 (Right to Life) of Part III. The pending Bill, if enacted, will result in (a) 17 crore children below six years of age losing their fundamental right to balanced nutrition, health care and preprimary education; and (b) the government being assigned arbitrary powers to provide free and compulsory education to the 19 crore children in the 6-14 year age group “in such manner as the state may by law determine “, just as the government has been doing for the past sixty years.

We hereby underline the following serious lacunae and contradictions in the Bill.

This Bill ,

  • allows the authorities to dilute the meaning of Free Education in an ad-hoc manner;
  • distorts the concept of Neighborhood School recommended by the Kothari Commission (1966) and resolved by the Parliament in the National Policy on Education-1986 (as modified in 1992), thereby authorizing the government to compel the poor children to study in inferior quality schools;
  • maintains Sarva Sikhsha Abhiyan’s discriminatory multi-layered school system;
  • permits the government to build schools of entirely unacceptable, ambiguous and sub-standard norms and standards;
  • continues with inferior quality education for almost three-fourths of the children, particularly girls and disadvantaged;
  • undermines the universally accepted pedagogic role of mother tongue in acquiring knowledge and learning languages other than one’s mother tongue, including English;
  • discriminates between the children studying in government schools and the private unaided schools in various ways. This is bound to lead to further deterioration of the quality of education in the government schools, making private schools, both aided and un-aided even more expensive and inaccessible to a wide section of the society. The worst sufferers of such discrimination will be the girls, thereby leading to increased gender disparity;
  • aims at demolishing the government school system under the pretext of providing free education to the weaker sections on 25% of the seats in private schools. On several grounds it is clear that this misconceived provision would not give any benefit whatsoever to the deprived children even in the short term;
  • legitimizes, through the above-named provision of 25% reservation in private schools, the ‘free market’ policy of school vouchers and Public Private Partnership;
  • refuses, by not including the financial estimates for implementation of the Bill in the Financial Memorandum, to explicitly accept the full obligations of the Bill and
  • promotes unregulated privatization and commercialization of school education.

The following three cynical objectives of the central government can be identified in tabling such a misconceived Bill:

First, abdicating its Constitutional obligation for providing free and compulsory education of equitable quality;

Second, demolishing the government school system, except the schools of specified categories (Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas, XI plan’s 6,000 model schools, and similar elite schools of the States/UT governments); and

Third, increasing the pace of privatization and commercialization of school education.

We have been for long urging upon the Union Government to,

  1. replace the pending Bill with a new Bill drafted in the framework of the Common School System based on neighborhood Schools in consonance with the basic spirit and principles enshrined in the Constitution;
  2. review the 86th constitutional amendment Act (2002) with a view to providing a fundamental right to free and compulsory education of equitable quality to all children until the age of eighteen years i.e. until class XII without any conditionality whatsoever;
  3. incorporate a Constitutional guarantee within the Bill for providing adequate funding for the entire school system. This is precisely the implication of a fundamental right.
  4. include in the Bill a provision to completely ban all forms of privatization and commercialization of education, especially Public Private Partnership, adoption of schools by private agencies and voucher schools;
  5. hold public hearings in all district headquarters of the country in a democratic and transparent manner in the process of drafting a new Bill.

As is submitted to you in the beginning, the Union Government is neither heeding the democratic voices nor is not responding to the widely articulated concerns. We, therefore, request you to either send the Bill to a select committee or return the Bill to the Parliamentary Standing Committee with directions to hold public hearings in all district headquarters of the country in a democratic and transparent manner in order to make essential changes in the present Bill or draft a new Bill afresh in consonance with the basic spirit and the fundamental principles enshrined in the Constitution and Supreme Court’s Unnikrishnan Judgment.

With hope and trust for your urgent intervention,

Sincerely Yours,

Prof. Anil Sadgopal Prof. G. Haragopal
Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
Co-Presidents, All India Forum for Right to Education
Ravi Rai Niraj
General Secretary, Convenor, Delhi State
All India Students Association Vidyarthi Yuvjan Sabha

Copies to:

  1. Prime Minister of India
  2. Minister of Human Resources Development
  3. Leaders of Opposition Parties
  4. Members of Lok Sabha
  5. Chairperson, National Commission for Human Rights
  6. Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights


Anil Sadgopal
Posted: 2008-11-09 00:03:24+05:30 IST
Updated: Nov 09, 2008 at 0003 hrs IST

These are election times in several states. These are bad times for government school children. Their teachers have been frequently pulled out of schools in recent weeks for cross-checking voter lists and election training. Essentially no teaching will take place for a week around the polling date. Earlier this year, the teachers were busy updating voter lists. And then there are panchayat and municipal elections. The private school children of course do not suffer such loss of teaching. Would this discrimination stop when the Parliament passes the Right to Education Bill, 2008, recently approved by the Central Cabinet? Of course not! On the contrary, it will be legitimised since the Bill provides for deployment of government teachers for “decennial census, election to Local Authorities, State Legislatures and Parliament and disaster relief duties.” Government school children will continue to sacrifice their education to keep the Indian democracy alive, while the private school children will receive education undisturbed.

This is certainly not an isolated example of the Bill’s discriminatory character. Take the case of pre-primary education (kindergarten, nursery) considered to be critical for preparing children for elementary education. The Bill indulges in falsehood when it says that pre-primary education will be provided in government schools except “if such facilities are not already being provided, through Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) or other government programmes, in proximity to such schools.” Who does not know that ICDS (or its anganwadis) is not even designed to provide pre-primary education? The Bill will thus ensure that the majority of the poor children (about three-fourth of the child population) will continue to be denied pre-primary education by the clever use of ICDS as an alibi!

The proponents of the Bill, especially the internationally funded NGOs, make much out of the provision of 25% reservation in the private schools for the disadvantaged children. Closer examination reveals a different story. As per the Seventh Educational Survey, about four crore children out of 19 crore in the 6-14 age group are currently studying in private schools at the elementary stage (class I-VIII). The above provision will create space for one crore for which the private schools will be reimbursed for the tuition fees. Assuming that these schools are providing quality education, the provision helps only a minority of the underprivileged. What is then the Bill’s vision of quality education for the remaining 15 crores? They will continue to receive education through a multi-layered school system with each social segment in a separate layer, the much-acclaimed norms and standards in the Bill’s Schedule notwithstanding.

Back to the 25% provision. Everybody knows that, apart from the tuition fees, the private school child has to shell out money for a range of items throughout the year — expensive uniform and shoes, extra textbooks, picnic and extra-curricular charges, computer fees etc. Who will pay for that? Why has the Bill not thought of changing the elitist character of these schools that violate the educational principles enunciated by Phule, Tagore and Gandhi? Clearly, the Bill lacks the vision of what constitutes quality in relation to India’s needs. That, however, is another debate.

Let us assume that the underprivileged is able to somehow sustain all these odds all the way until class VIII. This is when the government support for her tuition will come to an end. In such a situation, what would the school do? Throw the child out? Where would she go for high school education? May be nowhere, since that is not part of her Fundamental Right!

To be sure, there is a hidden political agenda in this 25% provision. Whenever the government sets up high profile elite schools — the centrally sponsored Kendriya or Navodaya Vidyalayas and the XI Plan’s 6,000 model schools or the state governments’ Pratibha Vidyalayas (Delhi), Utkrishta Vidyalayas (Madhya Pradesh) or residential schools (Andhra Pradesh) — the regular schools are deprived of funds and good teachers alike. People vie against each other to get their children admitted, using their political contacts, bureaucratic pressure or even bribes. The result: poor communities are divided and disempowered. This sop will thus further divert political attention away from the ongoing struggle for education of equitable quality through a Common School System.

A word on the media hype on the financial allocation that the Bill promises. First, the Kothari Commission (1964-66) recommended that 6% of GDP must be invested on education (including higher education) by 1986 and then maintained at that level. We never got there. Since 1991, the educational expenditure as percentage of GDP has been steadily declining and this is now down to 3.5% of GDP. Without fulfilling this cumulative gap, how does the government hope to provide quality education?

Second, the government knows how to cut corners. In its estimate of Rs 2,28,680 crores required for implementing the Bill in seven years’ time starting in 2008-09, there are plenty of clues how this will be achieved. Look, for instance, at the teachers’ salaries. As per the Bill, the primary school teachers shall be paid a monthly salary of Rs 6,000 and those of the upper primary (class VI-VIII) stage shall receive a monthly emolument of Rs. 8,000. At present, as per Fifth Pay Commission, the gross monthly emolument of the primary school teachers (PRT Grade) and the upper primary teacher (TGT Grade) is respectively Rs 12,400 and Rs 15,000 at the entry point. The cat is out of the bag. The government plans to replace all the regular teachers (qualified and trained as per NCTE norms) by under-qualified and untrained teachers appointed on short-term contracts. While the low quality teachers will teach in government schools, the private school children will be taught by properly qualified teachers whose pre-service training ironically has been subsidised with public funds. Combine this with the prescribed pupil:teacher ratio of 40:1 (Cuba has 20:1) and you have a perfect recipe for low quality education for the masses. The entire financial computation is loaded with such discriminatory logic.

Can there be a Fundamental Right to unequal and inferior education? The central government’s audible answer: Yes, indeed! Professor Amartya Sen told the Confederation of Indian Industries in December 2007 that school education can be funded only by the state. No advanced country in the world has ever been able to provide universal quality education by negating or undervaluing its public-funded education system. This is true for all the G-8 countries, including the USA. Defying this universal experience, the Right to Education Bill is daring to undo the history. Amen!

The writer is an educationist.


C For Commerce

A new Bill seeks to put the constitutional promise of free and quality education for all at the mercy of market forces, warns ANIL SADGOPAL

TODAY, FOR example, if a parent petitions the Court seeking a pupil:teacher ratio of 1:30 instead of 1:40, or pleads that her child’s potential for music, art or games is not supported since there is no provision for teachers in these critical areas — in such examples, if the judges see merit in the petition they may pass a favourable judgment.

This became possible because of the Supreme Court’s historic Unnikrishnan judgment in 1993, which gave all children up to 14 years of age a Fundamental Right to Education. The Court contended that the Fundamental Right to Life (Article 21) of the Constitution should be read in “harmonious construction” with the Directive in Article 45 to provide Free and Compulsory Education to children of 0-14 years, including those below six years of age. By implication then, free and equitable education became their fundamental right.

This judicial framework will be dismantled once the current Draft Right to Education (RTE) Bill, 2008 becomes an Act. The UPA government was all set to present this Bill in the Budget Session, but it did not happen. Strangely, this may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

The Unnikrishnan judgment sent jitters down the spine of the ruling elite. It meant that the government would have to reprioritise the Indian economy in favour of the masses. Even more frightening to the rulers was the political implication of the entitlement of the masses to education of equitable quality. They will then be enabled to compete with the privileged classes and demand their equal share in economic and democratic life.

Since 1993, successive governments at the Centre have tried to undo the impact of the Unnikrishnan judgment; to dilute and distort the meaning of the fundamental right to education. This culminated in the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act (2002). The Act inserted a new Article (21A) which limited the fundamental right to the 6-14 age group, thereby disentitling 17 crore children below six years of their right to nutrition, health and preprimary education. It further stated that free and compulsory education shall be provided “in such manner as the State may, by law, determine.” This conditionality enables the State to circumscribe the fundamental right of even the 6-14 age group.

The issue of Right to Education is critically linked to the Common School System founded on the principle of ‘neighbourhood schools’. In 1966, the Kothari Commission had argued that such a system was necessary to build a socially cohesive society. All children in a given neighbourhood, drawn from diverse backgrounds, should be able to study and socialise together in a common public space. This has been the organising principle of school education in G-8 countries like the USA, Canada, France, Germany and Japan.

Is it not absurd to even think of a ‘right’ to unequal and inferior education? Yet, this is what is provided through the current multilayered school system. The Draft Bill legitimises the schools that promote inequality, such as the elite government schools (eg. Kendriya Vidyalayas) and private unaided schools. This reflects in its provision of 25 percent reservation of seats in such schools for purportedly ‘free’ education of the weaker sections from the neighbourhood. For 75 percent of admitted children, both the principle of neighbourhood and the fundamental right to free education stand violated. The 25 percent provision shares its rationale with the neo-liberal guru Milton Friedman’s school vouchers that are meant to promote private schools out of public funds. The Eleventh Plan also pushes school vouchers along with public-private partnership. By providing for shifting of public funds to private schools, the Draft Bill becomes an instrument of the market forces.

THE PRIME Minister constituted a High Level Group (HLG) comprising the Finance Minister, Planning Commission’s Deputy Chairman, PM’s Economic Advisory Council Chairman and the Human Resource Development Minister. The HLG concluded that the Centre lacked resources for implementing the RTE Bill and that it should primarily be a state government responsibility. This amounts to kowtowing to neo-liberal pressure for abdication of the State’s Constitutional obligation.

A recent Note prepared by the HRD Ministry for the Union Cabinet warns that, unless the 86th Amendment is immediately enforced through an RTE Act, the Unnikrishnan judgment covering the 0-14 age group will prevail. This vindicates this author’s decade-old stand that the hidden agenda of 86th Constitutional Amendment is to snatch away the fundamental right gained by the children below six years and also to circumscribe, by law, the right being purportedly given to the 6-14 age group. Yet, the Central government has balked at introducing even a diluted and distorted Bill (see box). It is clearly not a matter of lack of resources but of the government’s framework leaning towards neo-liberal policies. This is why it backed out.

The dilemma was underscored at the November 2007 meeting by HLG chairperson Arjun Singh who suggested that “the only logical way out is to report to the Prime Minister that the Constitutional Amendment… was legislated in a hurry without taking into account all the attendant problems.” This is indeed an irony, particularly because all political parties had voted for the 86th Amendment. It is not unlikely that market forces and neo-liberal advisers are pressurising the government to repeal the 86th Amendment, but for the wrong reason

A public campaign is called for to seek replacement of the 86th Amendment by an Amendment that would give an unconditional fundamental right to children from birth to 18 years, encompassing early childhood care and pre-primary education onwards through Class XII. The Right to Education Bill could then be imbued with a vision of systemic transformation for equality in and through education, rather than adjusting itself to neo-liberalism. This will create the framework for building a Common School System in order to forge a sense of common citizenship for a democratic, egalitarian and secular society. •

Dirty Dozen of the Draft Right to Education, 2008

  1. Lacks provision to compel the State to provide adequate funds.
  2. Dilutes the Fundamental Right of children below six years to nutrition, health and pre-primary education by falsely equating it with Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS)
  3. Denies right to secondary and senior secondary education.
  4. Shifts public funds to private unaided fee-charging schools to exacerbate commercialisation, exclusion and inequality.
  5. Legitimises inequality through a multi-layered school system.
  6. Permits violation of the ‘neighbourhood’ principle by the government-run elite and private schools, allowing them to charge fees and screen and exclude children.
  7. Continues discrimination against government school children as their teachers will still be deployed for census, elections and disaster relief duties.
  8. Doesn’t provide for the states/UTs to regulate private unaided schools, leaving them free to indulge in profiteering, anti-child practices and other violations.
  9. Fails to guarantee child’s mother tongue as medium of education, even at primary stage. (For children of linguistic minority groups, this violates Article 350A.)
  10. Contains subtle provisions that exclude disabled children from schools.
  11. Opens space for private agencies to make money through questionable assessment.
  12. Lacks guarantee of dignified salaries, professional development, promotional avenues and just social security for teachers and prevention of fragmentation of teachers’ cadre.

Volume 23 – Issue 15 :: Jul. 29-Aug. 11, 2006
from the publishers of THE HINDU


Friday, August 22, 2008

Report of the Seminar titled ‘Right to Education-Actions Now’ conducted by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Shiksha India

The seminar titled ‘Right to Education-Actions Now’ was organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Shiksha India, Aspen Institute and Institute of Quality, on 19th December, 2007 in Maurya Sheraton, New Delhi, India. The main sponsors of the seminar were: Ambuja Cement, Bajaj Group of Companies, Bharti, GMMCO, Haldia, Thermax, Sona, SRF, Organosys and Patton.

The centre of attraction of this seminar was Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, who called for accountability in delivery of elementary education and public healthcare services, effective use of resources and co-operation with unions in these sectors. Prof. Sen underlined the importance of expansion of inclusive growth. He suggested deployment of more economic resources in education and better organisation of public services. Prof. Sen said that resources generated from economic growth should be used for public services and public goods in general, rather than being absorbed only in private consumption. He also highlighted the issue of diversity. He said that India should ensure efficiency and accountability in delivery of public services through organisational reforms. Despite economic reforms, the slowness of progress on school education has been taking much longer to remedy. He observed that there has been some reduction in the proportion of poverty-stricken people. But the process could have been much faster if growth achievements are combined with ways and means of more widespread sharing of economic opportunities. Prof. Sen said that India has been catching up with China in life expectancy and infant mortality, but there is still a long way to go. Prof. Sen expressed concern at the shocking incidence of absenteeism and neglect on the part of many teachers, who come from elite background and who care less for students from disadvantaged sections of the society. He pointed out the poor state of school inspection system in India. To tackle these problems, he suggested positive collaboration with other social groups and particularly the unions of primary school teachers and health care workers. He said that an educated population can make even better use of democracy. He talked on the importance of democracy. He asked for the need for female literacy as it can have positive impact on their economic and social status. He said that education can have powerful effects on quality of life of even the poorest of the poor. Prof. Amartya Sen mentioned that the nature of education is extremely relative. He also praised the $100 computers-for-kids initiative by MIT Media Lab. He said that peer learning is essential. He said that the quality of food provided in the mid-day meal scheme (MDM) is poor in certain states of India. He said that there is need for looking at education for producing skilled labour force, which can be tapped by the IT, ITeS and other services sector. He said that poor people should be provided coupons, which can be helpful in accessing education. He said that education is something more than literacy. He mentioned that in Bangladesh, there is a law which says that the wife of every husband should read and write.

Rakesh said that public-private partnership for constructing school buildings is need of the day. He said that there is need for concentrating on the ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’. Vijay Bhakara talked on the accountability of the education sector. He said that there is need for measuring the quality of education. He mentioned about one census assessment report on quality of education. He said that the competency level of the children needs to be assessed, which has happened in Karnataka, India. He also mentioned about the School Adoption Scheme, which is running in Karnataka. Kalyan Banerji said that the quality of textbook is very poor in India. There is thus the need for good quality content, so that it enhances the quality of the children-the future of India. S Bhattacharya said that there is need for better implementation of already existing educational schemes. Governmental schemes cannot be substituted by other initiatives. Teachers’ commitment and empowerment is extremely essential. India produces less number of engineers. There is a need to check why more and more students are taking commerce and management related subjects, instead of science/ technology. There is also the need to see why the system of Aanganwadi has collapsed in most states of India. He also mentioned that the pre-nursery school education system has collapsed. Drop-out is happening due to socio-economic reasons, he added. Students coming from rural background have hidden talents. Teachers must have the potential to tap the talent present in school children. There is also need to assess why there exists much focus only on English. He said that there is need to look at how to ensure accountability in educational schemes. S Bhattacharya said that the unhealthy competition in education need to be reduced. One of the biggest problem in Rajasthan is the transfer policy for teachers since every teacher want to be transfered to his/her native place.

However, Rajasthan has performed well in implementing the mid-day meal scheme successfully. During the 11th Five Year Plan, more allocation of financial resources with have been made on education, he added. He asked for passing of the Right to Education Bill by the Parliament of India. Jamshyd Godrej, Chairman, Shiksha India, talked on the importance of e-Learning tools to impart education at primary and secondary levels. He asked for the need of inputs from all sections of the population in order to make concrete progress in the field of education. He said that CII has been making positive efforts to promote education.

Gautam Thapar, Vice-Chairman, The Aspen Institute India, said, “In the context of globalisation, education assumes greater meaning. Greatness of a nation should not be measured by its ranking in global economic order, but by its ability to provide quality education. If we don’t address the issue of education, our demographic dividend may turn into demographic disaster.” He added that the Aspen Institute India is ready to contribute to the promotion of education. The day-long session was attended by 200 participants from Indian industry, NGOs, principals of various schools across the county, teachers and students. The session included an interactive session with Prof. Sen during which he dwelt on an array of issues. The participants discussed future course of action to improve elementary education in India. Madhav talked on the need for educational initiative in rural India. He said that there is need for employing the rural unemployed in educational sector. In this respect, the educational initiative of the the NGO Pratham, was mentioned by him. But there is need for scalability of the Pratham initiative, he said. Anil Bordia, talked about the need for working with the Anganwadi workers. He mentioned about the Lok Jumbish. There is need for contribution by the citizens, he said. Education should not be made absolutely free, he added.

During the conference it was mentioned that the National Sample Survey is one of the the best surveys conducted by the Government of India, which provides a different picture than the statistics provided by the Department of Education. Motivation of teacher is extremely important for having a good quality education system. There is the need for developing a transparent and accountable institutions in the area of education. The focus of the discussion was on the mid day meal scheme and the purposes it serves.

During the post lunch session, group discussions (comprising more than 15 groups) were held, which revolved around several topics. Suggestions were provided by various groups on various topics, which include: ensuring better school adoption system, bridging gaps in education in rural India, developing teacher skills, team learning, etc.

* The article have been jointly written by Narinder Bhatia, Anaam Sharma and Shambhu Ghatak


School For All
3 Nov 2008, 0032 hrs IST

India’s greatest wealth lies in its human resources. Universal schooling of decent quality could be the single biggest move it makes towards future

prosperity. Towards this end the government has mooted a Right to Education Bill which promises free education for every child in the 6-14 age group. But it remains cagey about details, citing the Election Commission’s model code as the reason for not disclosing the full text.

Education requires substantive, not just symbolic action. Merely passing laws, without sustained political attention that plugs yawning financial and administrative gaps in the school sector, is going to fail. One of the problems of taking a purely legislative view is to define who will be held responsible if a child doesn’t attend school. Will it be the local body, the state government, the Centre, the child’s guardians? There is plenty of scope for passing the buck, and we don’t have the full details of the Bill.

A related problem is to set out clearly who will pick up the bill for universal education, estimated to cost Rs 55,000 crore a year to implement. It’s supposed to be split between Centre and states, but the precise formula for doing so — and whether states are on-board with the scheme — is unknown. The most controversial provision of the Bill is to drag the private sector in, by imposing an obligation on private schools to take in at least 25 per cent of its students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Their fees will supposedly be paid by the government, a promise it’s unlikely to keep. Providing free education for all should be unambiguously the government’s responsibility. Countries haven’t made rapid strides towards universal literacy by palming off the responsibility on the private sector. That will stunt the growth of the private sector rather than lead to universal literacy.

The private sector, however, can act as a force multiplier and take some of the government’s burden off if the right incentives are given to it. For that to happen, it must be allowed to run on private sector principles. Corporates should be encouraged to set up their own chains of branded schools, which would both serve their human resource needs and disseminate quality education across the country.

To draw in the best professionals it’s necessary to legitimise profits in education and provide autonomy to the private sector. The government should also envisage private-public collaborations where it throws in some combination of money, land, scholarships and tax breaks, but leaves the management of schools in professional hands. Out-of-the-box thinking is called for to provide education the big bang it sorely needs.

Right to Education Bill introduced in RS 16 Dec 2008, 0424 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: Almost six years after Parliament passed the 86th Constitutional Amendment, the Centre on Monday introduced the Right of Children to

Free and Compulsory Education Bill in the Rajya Sabha. The 86th Amendment made free and compulsory education for children between the age of 6 and 14 years, a fundamental right.

The proposed legislation provides a blueprint for systemic reforms in the elementary education. It is aimed to provide quality education. It promises to counter the growing lobby for the privatisation of school education. The legislation is a step towards the common school system, first proposed by the Kothari Commission.

However, the passage of the Bill is not expected to be easy. The biggest hurdle will come from the growing and influential private players in education sector and their votaries among the country’s political leadership.

The statement of object and reasons clearly explains the aim of the legislation: “The proposed legislation is anchored in the belief that the values of equality, social justice and democracy and the creation of a just and humane society can be achieved only through provision of inclusive elementary education to all. The provision of free and compulsory education of satisfactory quality to children from disadvantaged and weaker sections is, therefore, not merely the responsibility if schools run or supported by the appropriate governments, but also of schools which are not dependent on government funds.”

The private school lobby has consistently called for the opening up of the education sector, allowing “for profit” organisation to play a role on the grounds that government schools can’t provide quality education.

The Bill makes it mandatory for private unaided schools to set aside 25% of their annual intake at the entry level (standard I) for disadvantaged children in the school’s neighbourhood. This effort is in keeping with Article 15(5), which allows the state to make special provisions for advancement for disadvantaged groups. In keeping with Article 29 and Article 30, minority institutions will be exempt from this exercise.

The Bill also bars capitation fees, making it a punishable offence with fines “up to ten times of the capitation fee charged”. It also makes screening of students a punishable offence, fees would be as high as Rs 25,000 for the first contravention, and Rs 50,000 for subsequent contravention. none of this is expected to sit well with the private school lobby.

Despite the unanimous support for the move to make the right to education a fundamental right, the enabling RTE legislation hasn’t had an easy passage. Work on the RTE was started by the NDA government soon after Parliament passed the constitutional amendment in December 2002. The first delay came when the NDA was voted out of power in May 2004. Work on the RTE was then taken up by the Kapil Sibal’s committee of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE).

The Sibal draft slated the financial implications, estimated by the then National Institute of Education Planning and Administration (NIEPA), at a minimum of Rs 3,21,196 crore to a maximum Rs 4,36,458.5 crore over six years. This is where the proposed legislation ran into trouble.

The question of funding was to hold up the bill for the next four and half years. Over the next four and a half years, the ministry of human resource development worked to bring down the financial implication of the bill. Finally, bringing it down to Rs 48,000 for a four-year period.

Strangely enough, the Bill in its final form does not have any explicit financial implications. The financial memorandum simply states: “It is not possible to quantify the financial requirement on this account at this stage.
However, the expenditure on provision of funds by the Central government would be met from the Consolidated Fund of India through annual budgetary provision”. The question then is why was the bill delayed, when the financial implications were never part of the legislation.

Bill on free and compulsory education introduced in RS
15 Dec 2008, 2250 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: Children from even the poorest families can hope to study in good schools with the government on Monday introducing a bill in Rajya

Sabha for free and compulsory elementary education with a provision that schools will have to keep aside 25% seats in class 1 for such students.

Minister of state for human resource development M A Fatmi introduced a bill which seeks to provide for free and compulsory education to all children between 6-14 years.

According to the `Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2008′, every school will have to earmark at least 25% seats in class 1 for free and compulsory elementary education.

The bill seeks to do away with the practice of schools taking capitation fees before admission and subjecting the child or parents to any screening procedure.

The bill also seeks to ban private tuition by teachers and ensure that no child is subjected to physical punishment or mental harassment, warning that whoever contravened the provisions would be liable to disciplinary action.

At the same time, the bill said it shall be the duty of every parent or guardian to admit the child to a neighbourhood school for elementary education and added that no child should be denied admission for lack of age proof.

Seeking to carry out radical changes in the primary education pattern, the bill states that no child shall be required to pass any Board examination till completion of elementary education.

Noting that the goal of Universal Elementary Education (UEE) continued to remain elusive, the statement of objects and reasons said, “The number of children, particularly children from disadvantaged groups and weaker sections, who drop out of school before completing elementary education remains very large.”

The bill warned that if any school failed to fulfil the norms, its recognition would be withdrawn and if any person still continued to run the school, he or she would be liable to pay upto Rs 1 lakh fine.

No school, other than a school established, owned or controlled by the government or the local authority, shall, after the commencement of the Act, be established or will function without obtaining a certificate or recognition from such authority, it said.

The bill said that no teacher shall be deployed for any non-educational purposes other than the population census, disaster relief work or duties relating to elections to the local authority, assembly or Parliament.

“Provision of free and compulsory education of satisfactory quality to children from disadvantaged and weaker sections is, therefore, not merely the responsibility of schools run or supported by the appropriate governments but also of schools which are not dependent on government funds,” the statement said.