Equitable Universal Quality Education is the foundation for a country’s development. It is a powerful tool for larger social good and social transformation to make India truly into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic. India being wedded to parliamentary democracy, the role of education, especially universalisation of equitable quality education for all children becomes a prerequisite to deepen and strengthen democracy in true spirit.
While enacting the right of children to free and compulsory education act to realise the fundamental right provided in the Constitution under Article 21A, the purpose of the legislation was clearly spelt in Para 4 of the statement of objects and reasons:
“The proposed legislation is anchored in the belief that the value of equality, social justice and democracy and the creation of a just and humane society can be achieved only through provision of inclusive elementary education to all. …………….”
We are completing 13 years of implementing the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 (RTE) today, i.e., 1st of April 2023.The mockery is that the compliance of RTE in the country is 25.5 percent1. If implementation goes with the same speed, it will take another 36 years, i.e., 2059 to fully comply the minimum norms and standards given in the RTE Act. Around 12, 54, 773 teachers post are vacant in the country for the academic year 2021-22. Will it not be denial of fundamental right to education for a generation? The compliance of RTE in Southern states is not very encouraging .The following table provides the details.
|S. No.||State/UT||RTE Compliance|
|1||Andaman &Nicobar Islands||25.9|
Percentage of all elementary schools RTE compliant in terms of meeting the infrastructural norms among Southern states/UT
On the other hand, the overall public spending on education is inadequate and far behind the resource commitment. The provision for six percent of GDP as total public spending on education is reiterated in all policy documents after the recommendation of Education Commission (1964-66). The total expenditure as % of GSDP is 2.7. The current percentage of union budget on education is 2.5 and the percentage of GDP of union government on education is as low as 0.37 percent. Given this abysmally low budget, we need to demand at least 6 percent of union budget for education and continue to demand 6% of GDP for education as a whole as recommended by Kothari Commission for effective implementation of the RTE . Even this 6% was suggested by the Kothari Commission at a time when the public finance situation in a young democracy was not very strong. Over the decades as the Indian economy has become much bigger, it is essential that a disproportionate share of the growth be invested in Education, so our vision need not see 6% as a maximum but rather as an immediate minimum.
It is in this context, the People’s Alliance for Fundamental Right to Education (PAFRE) in collaboration with All India Primary Teachers Federation (AIPTF) and National Coalition on the Education Emergency (NCEE) is organising two day get together to reflect on the status of RTE in the country in general and south India in particular.
1. Answer given to unstarred question no. 2186 in the Lok Sabha on 02.08.2021 by the Minister of Education, Government of India
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