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Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act

  • Erica D’Souza

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act: Impediments of Implementation

Introduction to the Subject:

The present paper basically focuses on the problems and impediments that have been faced in the implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) in India. The paper primarily analyses and utilizes the secondary data available in the form of scholarly and newspaper articles on the concerned subject. The paper also attempts to understand, in a reverse mode, the advantages and drawbacks of the RTE Act.

A new ray of hope became visible for the largely-undermined Public Education System in India when the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act came into force on 1st April, 2010. It has made free and compulsory education a fundamental right of every child in the (6 – 14) age group, irrespective of gender or social category (The Gazette 3). Now, it is a shared responsibility of both Central and State Governments to provide free and compulsory education to all children by all means. If a child is not getting access to the education, the State as well as the Central government will be responsible for it. The RTE Act also states that the responsibility of enrollment, attendance and completion of 8 years of schooling of every child will also be borne by the State. There is a special provision for the differently-able children in the Act. They will also be educated in the ordinary schools as well as up to the age of 18 (Soni and Rahman 6).

Some important features of the act in brief (Gazette of India II):

  • Every child belonging to the age group of 6-14 has the right to free and compulsory education.
  • Private school will also have to take 25% of their class strength from the weaker section and the underprivileged groups of the society and that is also through a random selection process.
  • It also states that there should not be any vacant seat in 25% quota in private schools. Moreover, these children from weaker background should be treated equally in all ways.
  • Every school will have to follow norms and standards prescribed in the Act and school that does not follow these standards within 3 years will not be permitted to function further.
  • No admission test or interview will be taken for children or parents in order to secure admission.
  • A fixed student and teacher ratio is to be maintained suggested by the central government. The ratio is (30:1).
  • The Government must ensure a Primary school within 1 KM and secondary school in 3 KM of all the territory of the State to ensure 100% enrollment.

Impediments of Implementations:

Different organizations have carried out various studies to find out status of implementation of the RTE Act focusing both on the educational infrastructure and quality of education. The most comprehensive and important survey is the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) which is carried out by Pratham, an education foundation bringing such annual report since 2005. ASER is carried out carried out by a local institution in every rural district in India. It is carried out each year in two months: September and November. In 2012, the survey reached 567 districts, 16,166 villages, 331,881 households and 5,96,846 children. About 500 organizations and 25,000 volunteers participated in this effort (Status 7).

The ASER report for the status of implementation of the RTE Act in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan reveals two major findings which are not very gratifying for the implementation of the RTE Act in India and universalization of education: poor quality of education and privatization (8). The reports also provides some specific findings such as: turn down trend in student and teacher attendance; enrolment is high, but proportion of out-of-school children also high, first choice was given for private schools and declining reading skill, private tution in demand etc. In his article “Advantages and Disadvantages of RTE Act”, published in The Hindu on 21 May 2013, Mohamed Imranullah S. argues that despite 25% reservation for children from the weaker sections of the society in private schools, they do not end up enrolling themselves in the lack of proper information about it (Imaranullah 2). It shows that lack of awareness regarding the RTE Act and facilities which one can avail under this right is one of the major impediments in the successful implementation of the RTE Act.

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Siddhartha Shome in her article “What is Wrong with the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act” draws our attention to a discrepancy inherent in the law itself which may also affect the proper implementation of the Act itself. She point out that if a private school fails to meet the required norms and standards, it will be fined heavily. But, in the same condition, a government run school will face no punishment (Shome 4). This inherent discrepancy, I feel, will also affect the attitudes of authorities in charge as they will not be responsible to provide answers if they fail to meet the given standards. And that will surely affect the education of children too. In their jointly written article “Feasibility of Implementation of Right to Education Act” and published in Economic and Political Weekly, Pankaj S Jain and Ravindra H Dholakia argue that insufficient allocation of the funds for the universal school system also weakens the proper implementation of the RTE Act (Jain and Dholakia 38). They argue that government school system is inefficient to fulfill the dream nurtured by the Act and as a kind of solution to this problem they suggest to “rely on low cost private schools as a significant instrument of the government education policy” (Jain and Dholakia 38-43). In response to their article’s argument, Vimala Ramachandran in her article “Right to Education Act: A Comment” argues that reliance on alternative schools or private schooling will condemn the poor and marginalized to a second-rate education as they can never afford private and expensive schooling (Vimala 155).

Status of Implementation of the RTE Act (2013): The study carried out in the year 2013 in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan regarding the implementation of the RTE Act reveals two major impediments in the implementation of the RTE Act: 1) The role of the state and 2) the coordination between the implementing agencies (The Status 26-27). The report reveals that the state is not very much willing to spend money on the proper implementation and there is a lack of coordination between implementing agencies such as the Labor Ministry and the police, the Human Resource Development Ministry, the child rights commissions in each state, etc. For example, In Uttar-Pradesh, the state has no intention of contributing towards implementation of Act and is wholly depended on the central government (Rai 3). The RTE Act states that a child must have access to a school near their home. How many schools would we have to build to meet the needs of the population? Dilara Sayeed in her article “Hurdles in implementation of Right to Education Act in India” draws our attention towards this problem. She argues that proper infrastructure, poor distribution of budget, acute shortage of teachers and great heterogeneity of citizenry all make proper and smooth implementation of RTE Act very difficult (Sayeed 4). According to her the lack of schools is a major hurdle for the implementation. She argues that for educating every Indian as proposed in RTE Act, not many schools have been built up by the centre or state government to meet the needs of the population (5). Moreover, the alarming growth of private tution-based education with heavy load of fee is also another reason. And because of it children of the poor class lag behind (6). Ramakant Rai in his article “Challenges in Implementing the RTE Act” draws our attention to another fragile issue which obstructs the smooth implementation of the RTE Act in India. He argues that the Indian Constitution has clearly stated that implementation of RTE Act cannot be only done by the state but the Centre will have to contribute equally. Lack of funds cannot be the only hurdle for its implementation but lack of intent and political will is the primary obstacle. There is improvement seen in the facilities provided by schools and in infrastructure facilities but still quality of learning could not bring remarkable change over the period of nine years (Madhav Chavan- ASER report). There are many accusations against government school being questioned with mismanagement, skipping, negligence and of appointment made on political expediency (RTE Wiki). The act has provision for orphans to provide admission without seeking any certificates but still schools are not admitting students without required documents (RTE). It has also been argued that the RTE Act has been hastily drafted without concerning many expertise scholars in the field of education. Moreover, it did not properly mention the actual definition for quality education.


  1. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act, 2009). The Gazette of India. Web. < http://www.ncte-india.org/Norms/RTE-1.pdf>.
  2. Soni, R.B.L. and Md. Atiqur Rahman. Status of Implementation of RTE Act-2009 in Context of Disadvantaged Children at Elementary Stage. Deptt. of Elementary Education. National Council of Educational Research and Training. Delhi.
  3. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER). Pratham.
  4. Jain, Pankaj S and Ravindra H. Dholakia. “Feasibility of Implementation of Right to Education Act.” EPW 44.25 (2009):38-43. Print.
  5. Ramchandran, Vimala. “Right to Education Act: A Comment.” EPW. 44.28 (2009): 155-157. Print.
  6. Imaranulllah, Mohamed S. “Advantages and Disadvantages of RTE Act.” The Hindu. May 21, 2013.
  7. Sarkar, Chanchal Chand. “Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 and Its Implementation.” India’s Infrastructure Report 2012.
  8. Shome, Sidhartha. “What is Wrong with the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act.” Manushi: Working Towards Solutionshttp://www.manushi.in/ articles.php.> Accessed on October 18 2014.
  9. Status of Implementation of the RTE Act: Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Web. <https://socialissuesindia.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/status-of-implementation-of-rte-2013.pdf>.
  10. Srivastava, Prachi and Claire Noronha. “Institutional Framing of the Right to Education Act: Contestation, Controversy and Concessions.” EPW 49.18 (2014): 442-456. Print.
  11. Rai, Ramakant. “Challenges in implementing the RTE Act.” Infochange News & Features. May 2012. Web. <http://infochangeindia.org/education/backgrounders/challenges-in-implementing-the-rte-act.html>.
  12. Sayeed, Dilara. “Hurdels in Implementation of Right to Education Act in India.” India Tribune. Web.<http://www.indiatribune.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7659:hurdles-in-implementation-of-right-to-education-act-in-india-&catid=30:opinion&Itemid=460>.

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