September 27, 2010

THE RTE ACT: What do we know so far?

This is the first of a series of blog posts on the RTE Act that will discuss developments around the Act and the related challenges.

The RTE act is considered one of the major milestones in development in India in recent times alongside the Right to Information Act. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) came into force in April 2010 in India. The Act ensures the government and community are legally obligated to offer free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 years of age, making elementary education a fundamental right of every child in India.

The efforts to improve primary education in India have been growing in the last 10 years. Different national and state level policies have focused on primary education. These include the ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ and the State level initiatives and the mid-day meal schemes. In five years between 2000 and 2005, India increased primary school enrolment overall by 13.7 per cent. However; there were an estimated eight million 6- to 14-year-olds in India out-of-school in 2009 as per UNICEF.

A lot has been written and debated in the media about the RTE Act, its merits, its inadequacies, the opposition to the Act or specific provisions, the challenges or uncertainty of implementation by the government. It’s important that we, as those working in the area of child/youth rights and development try to understand fully the RTE Act and its implications. Although the legislation places the responsibility on the government, ensuring its compliance also rests with each of us and our communities.

Photograph courtesy Indianewscast
  • Free and compulsory education to all children of India in between 6 and 14 years of age.
  • By free, it means no direct (school fees) or indirect costs (uniforms, textbooks, mid-day meals, transportation) till elementary education is completed.
  • No child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until completion of elementary education.
  • If a child above six years of age has not been admitted in any school or though admitted, could not complete his or her elementary education, then, he or she shall be admitted in a class appropriate to his or her age.
  • All private schools to reserve 25% of seats to children from poor families to Class One.
  • Prohibit all unrecognised schools from practice.
  • Prohibit donation or capitation fees; no interview of the child or parent for admission.
  • Provision for special training of school drop-outs to bring them up to par with students of the same age.
  • An amendment was made to include provisions for children with disabilities until 18 years of age.
  • Provisions for improvement in quality of education in government schools including need for adequate professional degree for teachers within five years; infrastructure improvements in three years; and
    improvement in teacher-student ratio.
  • Financial burden for implementation will be shared between state and central government.
  • Will apply to all of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The Act sets up an autonomous body, the National Council for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to monitor the implementation of the Act.
  • Schools shall constitute School Management Committees (SMCs) comprising local authority officials, parents, guardians and teachers to monitor the utilisation of government grants and the school environment.
  • RTE also mandates the inclusion of 50 per cent women and parents of children from disadvantaged groups in SMCs.
For more on the features of the RTE Act, do visit
Ministry of Human Resource Development
India Development Gateway
The Right To Education: Frequently Asked Questions

  • Compiled by Jeeno P. Jacob, Programme Anchor — Dream Mentoring Programme | Dream A Dream

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