Mains Daily Question
Nov. 18, 2020

  1. Critically examine the success of the Right to Education Act in India.

Approach:

  • Briefly introduce RTE

  • Highlight its objectives

  • Then discuss its success with shortcomings

  • Conclude with some suggestions

Model Answer

The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which represents the consequential legislation envisaged under Article 21-A, provides a right to full time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a formal school which satisfies certain essential norms and standards. The four most important provisions of India’s RTE law are: (i) government schools must be completely free for all children aged 6–14, (ii) no student can be expelled or held back before the completion of primary school (grade 8), (iii) 25% of private school seats must be held for disadvantaged students in the local area, and (iv) infrastructure and minimum quality standards (such as the provision of libraries and girls’ toilets), minimum teacher qualifications, and pupil-teacher ratios must be implemented.

The Act is a remarkable step forward in the field of education in India. However, some of the provisions of the Act, although included with noble intentions, have produced unintended consequences which is discussed next-

Success of The Act

  • There is a significant increase in the enrollments rates and at the same time reduction in drop-out rates in primary schools.

  • Considerable progress in education inputs over the last decade due to efforts like SSA and RTE - pupil-teacher ratios have fallen over 20 percent (from 47.4 to 39.8).

  • Also, there have been significant improvements in the physical infrastructure of schools in India. For example-fractions of schools with toilets and electricity has more than doubled.

Shortcomings of The Act

  • One flaw is the “no failure” policy. Children are constantly passed to higher grade levels, regardless of whether or not they are prepared for that higher level of work. While it is true that failing a child may well cause the child to intensely doubt his or her abilities, the Government fails to appreciate that failing a child also serves as a protective mechanism. The term “fail” has always worked as a deterrent for a child to study seriously and perform well.

  • There are no special audit mechanisms like in the case of NREGA.

  • There is shortage of teaching staff in primary schools and the primary issue is of teacher absenteeism.

  • Most private schools don't reserve 25% quota for EWS category even after the government directive.

  • Section 28 of the RTE Act mandates that no teacher should engage himself or herself in private tuition activity. The primary reason why teachers under perform in the classroom and then require their students to attend private tuitions is the want of additional income, unfettered by a loose monitoring and punitive system. Banning teachers from taking private tuitions does not do away with the cause of the problem.

  • Section 17(1) of the Act prohibits physical punishment or mental harassment of students. While a ban on physical punishment is laudable, the one on mental harassment is incompletely defined. What, after all, is ‘mental harassment’? It could be anything from a light admonition for not completing homework to vile abuses meant to strip the student of all self-respect. The Act sheds no further light.

  • The other shortfalls aside, the availability of funds and teachers remain significant roadblocks in the implementation of the Act. The Act, which has made education a fundamental right of every child, will require an investment of Rs 1.71 lakh crore for the next five years for implementation.

Way Forward:

The government needs to take various steps like strict enforcement of 25% quota, timely reimbursement to schools, use of advanced technology like biometrics to check teacher absenteeism, more focus on school infrastructure etc. for effective implementation of RTE.

 

 

Subjects : Current Affairs
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