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The
right to education when implemented had been recognized in various
international conventions. It has answered many issues related to our education
system when it comes to access. The act which comes under Article 21A of the
Indian Constitution allows compulsory and free education for every child from
the age group of 6-14 and thus making education a fundamental right.

The
act also doesn’t allow any sort of donation and any kind of capitation of fees.
Also admission for those coming under the act doesn’t require any sort of test,
examination or interview of that sort. It also calls for a fixed student to
teacher ratio. However, it has invited criticism from many sections of society
despite it being a human right.

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The elephant
in the room is the idea of education only for the age group of 6- 14
(elementary education) and not before and after that age group. This will lead
to many problems for elementary pass outs who want to pursue higher education.
Even courses introduced to cover up the syllabus for these years can act as a
solution.  It also to be noticed that
physically disabled children do not come under the act and even if they
represent a minority, there should have been some reservation made by the
government. A psychological aspect is also
concerned in the form of an inferiority complex which will come within the
students from the weaker sections as they may face hostility from those
belonging from upper backgrounds.

A
feature supporting RTE is the emphasis
on infrastructure but on the same time there is a compromise with the teaching
quality and perks for the teacher. Also such teachers are not
necessarily qualified and are paid less compared to the salary in municipal
schools (Rs 3500 per month against Rs 15000+ at municipal schools) due to the
low tuition fee which are charged at around Rs 200-500 per month. As a result,
many parents prefer a private school and paying a hefty fee in the bargain since
they lose faith in government schools and also teachers in private schools are
more passionate and dedicated to their job.  Also teachers in such cases
aren’t given that sort of training to undertake their work under this Act.

 When it comes to investments, the same should
be done on building up more schools rather than spending it on existent ones so
that the monopolisation of education doesn’t exist and people have more choices
in selecting the schools and hence the huge gap between the sector’s supply and
demand is shortened. Even low-cost private schools which can be a solution to
these problems cannot operate due to the RTE which disallows such schools to
work. It is
important to recognise however, that about 70 per cent of India’s students
study in government school and fixing this system – in term of improving
infrastructure, teacher quality and targeted learning for children from
disadvantaged groups – should be the first step in building a more equitable
system.

Awareness, during the initial
days, was also a drawback. During the implementation, each state applied the
act in its own way and under its own individual rules and there was no uniform
rule for all states to put on. Hence there was no strict awareness among
people. In schooling, apart from the tuition fee there are various other
expenses such as transportation costs and fees for books, uniform,
co-curricular activities etc. And these costs are not covered by the act. The act which requires all aided schools to form a School
Management Committee (SMC) which will comprise of parents and this committee
will be in charge for planning and managing the operations of the school. This
can be a burden for the poor parents as all members are required to volunteer
their time and effort.

76 per cent of the
total population of school children in India belongs to Scheduled Castes,
Scheduled Tribes and religious minorities. The RTE which guaranteed equal standard of education in schools meeting certain essential criteria much of the
narrative around the RTE and its implementation tended to focus more on the
rule of 25 per cent reservation of seats for children from disadvantaged
backgrounds in private schools.

On a secondary
aspect, the concept of education system in terms of academics itself is
questionable. The formal schooling is more based on rot learning and less
on creative and life skills of a student. Also for the “no fail” policy under
the Act, it is mandatory to pass all students up to middle class, many
educationists and parents feel it would further lower the standard of education
in government schools.

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