The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, which is often referred as Right to Education (RTE) Act in common parleys, came into force from 1 April, 2010. The Act provides for free and compulsory education to all children of the age of 6 to 14 years.
As e all kno that there have been gross violations of several provisions of the Right to Education Act over the last two years. The irony is that several states are yet to put even the monitoring mechanism, stipulated in the RTE Act, in place; so we do not even know the exact extent of violations.
So far only 14 States have notified the formation of State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR). Apart from these Haryana and Mizoram have constituted the REPA - Right to Education Protection Authority.
Section 31 of the Act clearly mentions that SCPCR/REPA as monitoring agencies "would examine and review the safeguards for rights provided under this Act." It also adds that these agencies would, "inquire into complaints relating to child's right to free and compulsory education."
In addition to, this according to various case studies done by CRY and its partners in several states over the period of last two years- Children are still denied admission in schools on various grounds despite this Act being in place.
There are cases where admission was denied due to not having transfer certificate, birth certificate or local residence proof. In many cases parents had to pay admission fee and were asked to pay monthly fee. No receipt of any kind against paid amount was provided to the parents by the school. There are also cases where children are being denied admission in mid-year or after half yearly school test.
Closure of schools is another key issue in this context. Between 1993 to 2011, in states like Kerala, the number of schools on the closure list has gone up to 3962 and the total number of children affected by them is 3, 65,000. Similarly in the state of Gujarat, there is a State Government Resolution and Circular to close the school which has less than 100 students. Its effect will be on more than 3000 schools.
Infrastructure also continues to be a major bottleneck in this regard. According to Annual Status Report of Education 2011, quoted by the union government itself in its Annual Economic Survey 2011-12:
- 56 per cent of the schools in India still have no separate toilets for girls
- 28.6 per cent of the schools still do not have libraries
- 60 per cent of the schools still do not comply with the Teachers pupil ratio of 1:30 as stipulated in the RTE Act
- 28 per cent of the schools have no playground
- 16.6 per cent of the schools have no provision for drinking water
- Around 45 per cent of the schools do not have even their own boundary wall
- More than half of standard 2 and standard 4 classes sit together with another class