Right to Education - Introduction
The Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 inserted Article 21-A in the Constitution of India to provide free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right in such a manner as the State may, by law, determine. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which represents the consequential legislation envisaged under Article 21-A, means 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. The title of the RTE Act incorporates the words ‘free and compulsory’. ‘Free education’ means that no child, other than a child who has been admitted by his or her parents to a school which is not supported by the appropriate Government, 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. ‘Compulsory education’ casts an obligation on the appropriate Government and local authorities to provide and ensure admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by all children in the 6-14 age group. With this, India has moved forward to a rights based framework that casts a legal obligation on the Central and State Governments to implement this fundamental child right as enshrined in the Article 21A of the Constitution, in accordance with the provisions of the RTE Act.
The RTE Act provides for the:
State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has been mandated under Section 31 of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 to examine and review the safeguards of the rights provided under the act and to recommend measures for its effective implementation; to inquire into complaints relating to violation of child’s right to free and compulsory education and to take necessary steps as provided under Section 15 of the Commission for Protection of Child Rights, 2005. Towards realizing its commitment of Universalizing Elementary Education during 2013 onwards, the Commission has undertaken varied activities providing for equity, inclusive, quality and sustainable education in India.
Building upon its functions assigned under Section 13, 14 and 15 of the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005 the Right to Education Division of the Commission has been effectively monitoring the implementation of the children’s right to education through undertaking research studies, conducting fact finding enquiries, organizing public hearings, inquiring into and taking suo-motu cognizance of complaints, making field visits to interact with all the relevant stakeholders like officials from State education departments, school management committees, civil society organizations and district collectors; and to investigate and obtain the information regarding the gaps and challenges in the decentralized implementation of education to all children. The Commission has also been writing letters to Ministry of Human Resource Development on issues related to children’s right to education that requires policy intervention. The Commission has also endeavored in organizing consultations and meets at the national, regional and state level, strengthening convergence and coordination between the State Commissions for Protection of Children Rights (SCPCR) and other allied departments of the Government.