The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act (RTE), is an Indian legislation enacted by the Parliament of India on 4 August 2009, which is concerned with providing free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 in India under Article 21 a of the Indian Constitution. A rough draft of the bill was prepared in year 2005.
It received Presidential approval and was notified as a law on 26 August, 2009 which came to effect on 1 April, 2010, (except for the state of J&K) and India became one of the 135 countries to make education a fundamental right of every child.
The Right to Education Act made compulsory all government and private sector schools across India to provide 25 percent reservation to children between the age group of 6 and 14 belonging to the weaker section of the country access to free and compulsory education.
The title of the RTE Act incorporates the words ‘free and compulsory’. ‘Compulsory education’ means obligation of the appropriate government to provide free elementary education and ensure compulsory admission, attendance and completion of elementary education to every child in the six to fourteen years age group.
‘Free’ means that no child shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education.
The main features of RTE act are:
*It makes education a fundamental right of every child between the ages of 6 and 14 years and specifies minimum norms in elementary schools.
* It requires all private schools to reserve 25% of seats to children (to be reimbursed by the state as part of the public-private partnership plan).
* It also prohibits all unrecognized schools from taking donation or capitation fees, interview of the child or parent for admission.
* The Act also provides that no child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a
* It lays down the norms and standards relating to Pupil Teacher Ratios (PTRs), buildings and infrastructure, school-working days, teacher-working hours.
* It provides for appointment of appropriately trained teachers, i.e. teachers with the requisite entry and academic qualifications.
* It prohibits the following:
(a) Physical punishment and mental harassment;
(b) Screening procedures for admission of children;
(c) Capitation fee;
(d) Private tuition by teachers;
(e) Running of schools without recognition.
* It provides for making the child free of fear, trauma and anxiety through a system of child friendly and child centered learning.
The Right to education act has faced a lot of criticism on the basis of hasty preparation without consultation made on the quality of education and for excluding children from zero to six years age from its purview.
Some people are of the opinion that the Right to Education Act also has left out the orphans, as during the time of admission a lot of documents are required, like date of birth certificate, BPL certificates and the orphans not in possession of these documents are not eligible to take the benefits under this act.