India has a Right to Education Act and the irony is that many people are not educated enough to know about it.

What is Right to Education Act (RTE Act)?

The Indian Right to Education Act AKA the RTE Act 2009, came into force on 4 August 2009 and was enforced by was enacted by the Parliament of India. With the enforcement of this Act, India became one of the 135 nations of the world, to mandate education as a fundamental right of every child. The RTE act describes modalities of the importance of free and compulsory education for children aged between 6-14 years in India.

The RTE Act keeps a check across the country through regular surveys to identify the eligible children who are not receiving an education due to lack of means.

Here are some of the most important things about RTE that we should know.

1. Compulsory and free education for all

The act mandates the government to provide free education to children up to the age of 14 years, through schools within 1 km of their residence. Education up to class 8th is compulsory and no child shall be liable to pay fees or other charges what so ever to get an education. This includes the provisions of textbooks, uniforms, stationery items and special educational material for children with disabilities. This is sought to reduce the burden of school expenses on the families of the student.

2. The Benchmark Mandate

The act has laid down norms, standards & guidelines about various aspects such as separate toilets for girls and boys, drinking water facility, number of school-working days, working hours of teachers, etc. for every educational institution. Every school across India have to abide by them.

3. Special provisions for special cases

The act has provisions which suggest that students who are admitted at a later age, than usual, should be admitted to a class, according to their age. Apart from this, they should also be given the training to match the appropriate learning level of that class.

4. Quantity and quality of teachers

The act has rules relating to Student-Teacher-Ratios (number of children per teacher and has provisions to ensure that rational deployment of teachers so that specified ratio is maintained. Apart from this, the act mandates the appointment of trained teachers only who have requisite academic qualifications to match their jobs.

5. Zero tolerance against discrimination and harassment

The RTE is one of the many acts in India, which prohibits any kind of discrimination on gender, caste, class and religion basis or otherwise. It also restricts any kind of physical punishment and mental harassment.

6. Ensuring all-round development of children

As recommended by the RTE Act, the educational institutes must have a curriculum which ensures the all-round development of every pupil. The education should build knowledge, potential and talent in the children.

7. Improving learning outcomes to minimise detention

As per the act, no child can be stopped or expelled from school till Class 8th. In case the students are under-performing, schools shall follow the Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) system. It was introduced in 2009 to ensure quality learning in schools and to evaluate every aspect of the child during their time in school, identify the gaps work on them in time.

8. Monitoring compliance of RTE norms

The act also has rules for every school to have a School Management Committees (SMCs). The Committee shall have a headteacher, local elected representative, parents, community members etc. The role of this committee should be to strengthen participatory democracy and governance in elementary education. Apart from this, they are empowered to monitor the functioning of schools and to prepare development plans.

9. Right to Education Act is justiciable

The Right to Education Act is backed by a Grievance Redressal (GR) mechanism. GR mechanism allows people to take action against non-compliance of provisions of the Right to Education Act 2009, thus making RTE justiciable.

10. Creating inclusive spaces for all

RTA asks all private schools to reserve 25 per cent of their seats for children belonging to socially disadvantaged and economically weaker sections. This has been sought as a method to boost social inclusion to provide for a more just and equal nation.