Important : As completed 5 years in 2015
  • About 1 Lakh schools are run by a single teacher. The teacher performs a range of tasks in these schools (housing survey, economic survey, census duty, voter identity card duty, managing mid meal etc.)
  • 28:1 average pupil teacher ratio. The ratio can be as high as 100:1 in some schools.
  • Around 3% of GDP is spent on education
  • 13% teachers in the country are on contracts. They are low paid and at times, not qualified enough too.
  • Close to 90% teacher training institutes are in the private sector. Many are on low quality.
Right to Education (RTE) Act:
  • The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009
  • This act is an embodiment of  Article 21-A, which says that every child has a right to full time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a formal school which satisfies certain essential norms and standards.
  • Article 21-A and the RTE Act came into effect on 1 April 2010.
  • It is seen as the most historic development in universalisation of elementary education in the country.
  • It implies that every child in the age group of 6 to 14 years has Right to elementary education. They are entitled for free and compulsory education.
Salient features:
  • The RTE Act provides for the right of children to free and compulsory education till completion of elementary education in a neighbourhood school.
  • It clarifies that ‘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 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.
  • It makes provisions for a non-admitted child to be admitted to an age appropriate class.
  • It specifies the duties and responsibilities of appropriate Governments, local authority and parents in providing free and compulsory education, and sharing of financial and other responsibilities between the Central and State Governments.
  • It lays down the norms and standards relating inter alia to Pupil Teacher Ratios (PTRs), buildings and infrastructure, school-working days, teacher-working hours.
  • It provides for rational deployment of teachers by ensuring that the specified pupil teacher ratio is maintained for each school, rather than just as an average for the State or District or Block, thus ensuring that there is no urban-rural imbalance in teacher postings. It also provides for prohibition of deployment of teachers for non-educational work, other than decennial census, elections to local authority, state legislatures and parliament, and disaster relief.
  • It provides for appointment of appropriately trained teachers, i.e. teachers with the requisite entry and academic qualifications.
  • The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is the main vehicle for implementation of the RTE Act. It is one of the largest programmes of its kind in the world. It is primarily funded from central budget and it covers the whole country.
  • Under SSA, special attention has been given to urban deprived children, children affected by periodic migration and children living in remote and scattered habitations. Attempts have also been made to reach out to children suffering from autism. It involves their identification, preparation of individualized Education Plan, teacher training on Autism and therapeutic support
Evidence of discrimination in schools:
According to the 2011 Census,
  • the average literacy rates of people aged above 15 among Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) are about 9 per cent and 17.4 per cent less than the national average, respectively.
  • The female literacy rate is 19.5 per cent less than that of males. This difference increases to 23 per cent and 23.5 per cent among the SCs and STs, respectively, indicating the double discrimination faced by Dalit and Adivasi women.
  • The dropout rates among SCs and STs are significantly higher than the national average and more girls discontinue schooling than boys.
How to create a true egalitarian society?
The Kothari Commission recommended a common school system (CSS) to “bring the different social classes and groups together and thus promote the emergence of an egalitarian and integrated society”. It lamented that “instead of doing so, education itself is tending to increase social segregation and to perpetuate and widen class distinctions”. This results in the “anaemic and incomplete” education of both the rich and poor as it forecloses sharing of perspectives. The CSS was adopted by both the 1968 and 1986 national policies on education. While the interventions from ‘Operation Blackboard’ to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan brought universalisation and quality to the forefront, the CSS was somehow relegated to the background.
Negatives of RTE:
  • Due to several conditions, both public and private schools are being closed
  • More focus on infrastructure than on quality of education
RTE and minorities schools:
  • Conflicting judgements of Supreme Court and High Court over the issue of harmonisation of Right to Education with minority schools
  • The Supreme Court has exempted minority schools from the purview of the RTE Act in Pramati Education case (2014).
  • Kerala HC has ruled that Section 16 of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act), that mandates schools to not detain any child before s/he completes elementary education, is applicable to minority educational institutions as well
  • Kerala HC has not overruled SC. The High Court located this obligation not in the Act but under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees right to life and liberty
  • A key takeaway from this judgment is the recognition that certain provisions of the RTE Act have a universal appeal.
Are rights guaranteed under Article 30 absolute?
  • The generic scope of right to education seems to conflict with the specific contexts of the rights of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice under Article 30.
  • That right, however, is not absolute.
  • Freedom to ‘administer’ a school cannot include ‘mal-administering’ it.
  • Regulations for maintaining academic standards, ensuring proper infrastructure, health and sanitation, etc. could be imposed on minority schools as well.
  • Further, a government-aided minority school cannot discriminate against students on grounds of religion, race, caste, language in the matters of their admission (Article 29(2))
No Detention Policy:
  • According to this provision “no child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class”. This translates into automatic promotions to the next class every year until Class VII. Instead of exams, schools are supposed to hold Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluations (CCE) for every child
  • Many committees and panels have recommended to scrap it. Most recently TSR Subramanian committee (New Education Policy) has recommended to scrap it after 5th grade
What are the positives of “No Detention Policy”?
  • If Students fail, they simply drop out of the school
  • Compelling a child to repeat a class is demotivating and discouraging
  • Most failures are from low-income family students or girls. They drop out after it.
  • Wastage in the schooling system due to high repetition and high dropout rates has been a major concern since the 1990s
What are the negatives of “No Detention Policy”?
  • It compromises learning levels and quality of education in schools
  • Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluations needs resources including number of teachers, seamless processes and a supportive ecosystem
  • No training or manuals are provided to teachers to shift to CCE
NITI Ayog’s view on “No Detention Policy”?
NITI Aayog has called for a review of the provisions of the Right To Education (RTE) Act that stipulate children who do not perform well cannot be held back up to 8th Class.
  • NITI Ayog pointed out that the purpose behind this provision in the Act was to minimise drop-out rate as demoralisation from failing a class may result children to withdraw from school altogether.
  • However, despite good intention, the provision has a detrimental effect on learning outcomes, since it takes away the pressure to learn and to compete. 
  • The real problem is the quality of education as measured by student achievements. The education quality trend between 2010 and 2014 has been worsening instead of improving performance.

Amendments made in RTE Act:
The section 23(2) of the Act specifies that all teachers at elementary level at commencement of this law if did not possess minimum qualifications under it need to acquire these within a period of five years i.e. by March 2015. However, several state governments have reported that 11.00 lakh teachers at the elementary level are still untrained out of a total number of 66.41 lakh teachers. Thus, to ensure that all teachers acquire the minimum qualifications prescribed by the academic authority, it is deemed necessary to carry out appropriate amendment in the RTE Act, 2009 to extend period for such training for four years up to March 2019.
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