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Right to Education


Right to education … the buzzword everywhere! Newspapers, online journals, conferences, seminars, research papers everywhere… it’s only RTE!

Yet if you ask anyone … he/she may not be able to give a clear idea as to what is RTE … and why and how would it affect our country … our education system

I myself have done one conference (in professional capacity) on RTE and am currently working on a white paper on the same. But every time I look at the document and the current media glare that its generating it leaves me stumped!

Theoretically, the RTE act just says that all children between age 6-14 should get education free of cost. This in itself is under scrutiny as the age group is being said to be limited in its scope and not inclusive. Nevertheless the simple mission of the act is to make getting education a fundamental right … a right which if violated can be contested in court and thus has to be adhered to by all and one.

This is a basic primitive act and no one in their right sense should have issues with it. To take it a little back, India for centuries has been famous for its education and knowledge legacy. Written evidences from hundreds of years and even before show the importance education was given and the respect it garnered from the entire world. Foreign travelers who have visited India at various points in time in past have all marveled at the richness of India in knowledge, education and cultural heritage. The famous examples of Gurukuls where children were sent for education find mention in greatest epics of all times- Ramayana and Mahabharata.

These gurukuls were the centres of education and innovation and acted as the hub of knowledge. In a country with past such as this an act to make education compulsory is ironic.

But a look at the history and the number of times our country had to face hardships both financial and cultural in nature, this does not come in as a surprise!

 The RTE which finally became an Act in the year 2010 is but a beginning of a process of making the corrections and acknowledging that education is considered important enough to be put in as a fundamental right.

Since the time RTE has been made an act and in fact even before that it has been facing the irk of all and sundry. Though all sectors of the country came in to applaud the act and its implications but that was momentary. Ever since the act was released along with model rules, they have been under scanner. As more and more people are going through it, more and more issues are being pointed out … media is making everything public, discussions are making every other issue in education small and non significant.

 The problem is not the ‘fundamental right for free education to all’ rather the rules and laws that will need to be implemented to make this a reality.

 How it looks at the moment is that the model rules that have been prepared along with the act have been put together with little or no research and studies. A large number of the provisions of the act are such that they can not be scaled up for a country of our size.

 Then one of the major shortcoming is lack of clarity on the act – its provisions, its governance, its implications, its monitoring.

 Add to it the lack of awareness and advocacy and the act touted as one of the most ambitious act of its kinds assumes a status between being a mystery and an enigma.

This is exactly how people are looking at it … for every few days someone questions an aspect of education system and the question mark lands on RTE Act. For every thing to do with education comes under this act. So the common man who has not yet understood RTE becomes even more apprehensive, anxious and negative about the Act after reading newspapers. Whereas in all probability the issues being raised have been present even before the act came in to being.

This in no terms means that the act is perfect … it just implies that there is more to it and RTE is just a tool to improve the education system. Infact instead of thinking and assuming and looking at RTE as something new and alien, if only we look it at as a strategy to streamline all that has been happening in the education field – as a tool to make some deadlines and push the stakeholders to commit more and strive harder for better educational services – as a blueprint of the steps needed to make education a necessity rather then a luxury.

 Once RTE is looked at from this point of view it will probably be easier to comprehend, understand, support and implement. Needless to say that devil does lie in details and for RTE to become a success, one needs to look at the provisions and model rules in totality and with a clear view to the final objective.

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