The entire country is covered by the Act, with the exception of Jammu and Kashmir.
2. Which schools are covered by the Act?
The Act applies to all schools, government and private. However, there are some specific provisions that apply to only government schools and some that apply only to private schools. “Specified category” schools that are exempt from some of the provisions include:
1. Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalaya, Sainik schools
2. Any other school having a distinct character which may be specified by notification by the appropriate government. [Section 2(p)]
3. What happens to the existing State Acts, in light of the RTE Act, 2009?
Once the new Central RTE Act comes into force, all other Acts are superceded. The states would be able to issue guidelines and state Rules, but not separate Acts.
Right to free & compulsory education
4. What does the Act guarantee?
Free and Compulsory Education to all children between the age of 6-14 years covering the elementary cycle of education in a neighbourhood school. Further it guarantees education of a specified standard, subscribing to norms of school infrastructure, hours of instructional time and days of school functioning, pupil teacher ratios and teacher quality.
5. What happens to children under the age of 6?
The Act does not specifically cover this age group of children. However, it says that the “local authorities” may provide free and compulsory education at the pre-primary stage.
6. What is meant by “free” education in the Act?
According to the Act (section 3.2) free refers to any fees or charges that may prevent a child from pursuing and completing the elementary cycle of education. It implies that any kind of tuition or other fees (sports, development, examination, etc.,) cannot be charged from any child. Further, any expenses that may prevent a child from participating in the education process from transport facilities to physical aides such as spectacles, crutches or hearing aides, are included in the entitlement of free education for a child.
7. What does “compulsory” education mean in the Act?
By compulsory is meant that it is entirely the obligatory on the State to provide free elementary education to every child in the 6-14 years age group and ensure not just admission, but attendance and completion of the elementary cycle of schooling as well.
8. What is meant by a neighbourhood school?
By neighbourhood is meant a specified walking distance from the habitation of a child. The Model Rules will define more specifically different categories of situations where the definition of neighbourhood may need to be varied to accommodate children in remote areas, conflict ridden areas or children from migrant families etc,.
9. Is there any compulsion on the parents as well to send their children to school?
The law makes it clear that the compulsion is on the state and not on the parents to ensure completion of the elementary cycle of schooling. It says that it is the duty of every parent to admit their children in a neighbourhood school, but the responsibility of the government to ensure quality education and the retention and completion of elementary education by child in school.
There are no penalties on parents for not sending their children to school.
10. Many children work, so can they be accommodated in a second shift?
No. According to the norms laid out in the Act, all schools must provide a minimum of 4 hours of instruction every day if primary and 4.5 hours if upper primary. It is also suggested that schools function for a minimum of 6 hours daily to enable children to participate in extra-curricular activities as well. This schedule makes it difficult to run 2 shifts a day in a school. Besides, an underlying objective of the right to education is to wean children away from working and into schools. Hence, second shifts which encourage child labour are made in-feasible under the Act.
11. What about children from migrant families?
Children from migrant families have the same right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood schools as other children. In order to fulfill this right for children who are part of migratory families the government may provide residential schooling facilities.
12. What if a child is older than six years and has never been to school? Can she be enrolled now? If yes, in what class?
Yes. No child in the age group 6-14 years can be refused admission in school.
She would be enrolled in a class “appropriate to her age”. By this is meant that if she is 10 years old she will be admitted to class 4.
13. How will she cope with the studies of class 4 if she has never been to school?
The Act makes it the responsibility of the school to provide her with “special training” in the school premises to enable her to come upto her age appropriate class. In other words, a 10 year old has the right to be enrolled in class 4 while she attends remedial classes provided by the school in the same premises till she is able to be mainstreamed. This could take 3 months to 2 years.
14. If a 13 year old child wants to join school, will she be asked to leave in one year when she attains 14 years of age?
No. The Act guarantees the completion of elementary education. It means therefore that the child can continue to study till she has completed class 8, irrespective of her age at that time.
15. Who will provide the special training or remedial classes for children to be able to be in age-appropriate classes?
It is the responsibility of the government (or school) to provide the special classes, as far as possible within the school premises itself, so that the child can feel a part of the school in which she/he is enrolled.
16. Does this mean that non-governmental organizations that have been running bridge courses will have to stop running them?
No. it does not mean that. Nothing in the Act, prevents the government from taking the assistance of a non-governmental organization to run the special classes. The bridge courses could become part of the school programme if the government decides to do that. The overall responsibility for providing these classes however, will remain that of the government.
17. If the parents of a child bring the child to school for admission in the month of November, when admissions are normally over, the school can refuse admission, can’t it?
No. Admission cannot be refused to any child at any time. However, since the child would have missed many classes she/he may need special coaching to cope with the syllabus of the class she is enrolled in. These special classes are also to be provided by the school on its premises.
18. If the village school goes only upto the primary section, what happens to education beyond that?
According to the Act a child has the right to seek transfer to any school (apart from private unaided schools and the special category schools mentioned in the Act) for completing elementary education. It is the responsibility of the local authority to ensure that the child (and in fact all children of that primary school) are seamlessly transferred to the nearest upper primary school in time. Alternatively the primary school can upgrade its facilities to the upper primary level.
19. What if the school delays issuing the transfer certificate?
No child can be denied admission, transfer certificate or not. In fact disciplinary action can be taken against a Head teacher who delays issuing the Transfer Certificate.
20. What about schools that have facilities below the standard specified in the Act?
The schools have been given 3 years to upgrade their standards and bring them at par with the norms specified in the Act. After that action can be taken against them for not meeting the standards.
21. What happens to the existing norms, such as those of SSA?
The RTE norms would override all other norms. SSA norms would have to be revised to accommodate RTE norms, even in the transition period of 3 years.
RTE Primer: Duties of governments, local authorities & parents
BY RTE DIVISION, ON AUGUST 27TH, 2009
The Right to education primer is a series of articles on the Right to Education Act created by the NCPCR to explain the law in simple terms. For the other sections of the primer click here.
22. What is the role of the Central government in implementing the Act?
The Central Government role is 3-fold:
1. Developing a National Curriculum Framework with the help of an appointed Academic Authority.[section 6(a)]
2. Developing and enforcing standards of teacher qualification and training [section 6(b)]
3. Providing technical and financial support and resources to the State governments for innovation, research, planning and capacity building [section6(c)].
23. What is the role of the state education department?
1. Provide free and compulsory elementary education to all children
2. Ensure availability of a neighbourhood school with requisite infrastructure, teachers, and learning equipment as specified in the Act.
3. Ensure admission, attendance and completion of elementary education for every child
4. Prevent discrimination against any child on any grounds
5. Ensure quality education conforming to standards specified in the Schedule of the Act
24. What is the role of the local authority?
1. Maintain records of all children up to the age of 14 years residing in its jurisdiction
2. Ensure admission of all children, including migrant children
3. Ensure that no child is discriminated against
4. Decide the academic calendar
5. Monitor functioning of schools in its jurisdiction
25. What are the quality norms guaranteed by the Act?
1. Pupil Teacher Ratio of 30:1; with minimum instructional hours of 4/day and minimum working days of 200/annum (4.5 and 220 for Upper primary sections)
2. Buildings [all-weather, barrier-free access, boundary wall; one classroom for every teacher; separate room for Head teacher; separate toilets; safe drinking water, kitchen for mid-day meal; and playground]
3. Teaching learning materials
5. Play and sports equipment
26. What if the teachers are not available to meet the norms of the pupil-teacher ratio?
The number of vacancies in a school cannot exceed 10% of the sanctioned strength following the pupil teacher norms. If the requisite number of qualified teachers cannot be found in a particular area the qualification norms may be modified to suit the purpose, but only for a period not exceeding 5 years.
27. By when do they have to be in place?
The PTR has to be in place within 6 months of the Act coming into force.
The other norms have to be in place within 3 years.
28. Who will provide the money for this upgradation?
The Central and State government will together provide the funds for implementing the Act. For this the Central Government will do the following:
1. Prepare estimates of capital and recurring expenditure for the implementation of the Act and providing grants-in-aid to the State governments for RTE [Section 7 (2) and 7 (3)].
2. Request the Finance Commission to examine the need for extra grants to state governments for provisions related to RTE.
Responsibilities of schools
29. Does the Act imply that the private schools can no longer charge fees?
No. Private schools and schools in the specified category can continue to charge fees as before. However they are required to admit in their incoming class, at least 25% children from disadvantaged and weaker sections of society, without charging any fess.
30. Private schools would have to ensure admission to some students from poor families? How many such students will they required to admit?
25% of the incoming class must include children from disadvantaged and weaker sections.
31. These children will not pay fees, but what about other costs of schooling?
These children shall have the full extent of a free and compulsory education as guaranteed in the Act for all other children. The schools will be reimbursed by the government to the extent of the expenditure incurred by a child in the government school.
32. What about capitation fees?
No capitation can be charged by any school, government or private or specified category.
33. Does this apply to the special category schools as well, such as the Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodyayas, Sainik Schools and other such?
These schools are also required to take in at least 25% children in their incoming class from weaker sections but will NOT be re-imbursed by the government, as in the case of private unaided schools.
34. What about private aided schools?
These schools are required to provide free education to children in proportionate relationship to the grants-in-aid they receive, subject to a minimum of 25%. They too will not be reimbursed by the state.
35. What about minority institutions?
If the minority institutions are not receiving any aid from the state they will follow the rule of private unaided schools, and if receiving aid they will follow the rule of aided schools.
36. Will this clause also hold for those schools that have already provided subsidized education to children of poor families, in lieu of land and other resources received at subsidized rates?
In these cases the schools shall have to fulfill the 25% reservation criteria but will not be reimbursed to the extent of expenditures in a government school.
37. What does the Act say about admission procedures, such as tests, interviews and other such?
The Act prohibits the use of any screening procedures for admission for all schools.
38. What documentation would then be required at the time of admission?
Proof of age document would be required at the time of admission to determine which class she is to be admitted, since age-appropriate education is the provision of the RTE. Birth certificate or such other document issued by a statutory body may be sued for proof of age.
39. Since the Act talks about age-appropriate enrollment, but no documents are required at the time of admission, how would the age of the child be determined?
The Act does not specify a procedure. The Rules are likely to make that clear. However, written submissions by parents on the age of the child may be accepted as age-proof at the time of admission.
40. How would admission be done, if there are no tests and no documentation required?
No admission can be denied for lack of any documentation, including proof of age.
41. What if a school uses capitation fees as a method of screening?
The school can be penalized to the extent of 10 times the capitation fee charged or Rs 25,000 for using a screening procedure. If a screening procedure is used a second time by the school, the penalty doubles to Rs.50, 000 and so on.
42. What is the deadline for admission? What if the deadline is missed?
A child should be admitted at the start of the academic year, but no child can be denied admission at any later date either.
43. Can a child be failed in any class?
No. A child cannot be failed or expelled from any class till he/she completes 8 years of schooling.
44. How can it be assured that a child is learning, if promotion is automatic and there are no tests?
According to the Act the Academic Authority specified by the appropriate government shall lay down an evaluation procedure that is based on the principle of “continuous and comprehensive evaluation” for every child. Thus, the child will be evaluated but not through a single end-of-year exam but through a process that is continuous and looks at all aspects of the child’s learning and abilities.
45. Can a child be expelled from school for, say, misbehaviour?
46. A large number of schools exist without recognition. What does the Act say about them?
No school other than a wholly government school can function without recognition after the commencement of the Act.
47. On what basis would recognition be granted?
Must fulfill norms and standards mentioned in the Schedule, or within 3 years of notification of Act if school already in existence
48. What if the school decides to run anyway, without recognition?
Such a school will be liable to pay a fine of Rs. 1 lakh and if it continues to contravene, the fine will go up to Rs 10, 000/day.
49. What happens to children in currently un-recognized schools?
These children will have to be admitted to the nearest neighbourhood schools at the earliest.
50. What about schools run by NGOs?
They too will have to subscribe to the stated norms.
51. Is there any role of parents in the school?
The Act requires that a School Management Committee be set up consisting of at least three-fourth parent-members, with adequate representation of parents of children from disadvantaged communities and at least 50 percent members to be women.
52. What is the role of the SMCs?
The SMC’s have been given the following functions:
1. monitor the working of the school
2. prepare and recommend the school development plan
3. monitor the utilization of grants
4. perform other functions as may be prescribed
Further, in the model rules teachers have been made accountable to the SMCs. This will have a far reaching impact on the performance of teachers.
Grievance redressal in the Act
59. If any of the rights are not being met, where can a complaint be lodged?
Complaints can be lodged at the Gram Panchayat or Block Education Office. Or even at the SCPCR or NCPCR. Finally complaints can also be taken to the courts, as education is now a justiciable fundamental right of all children in the age group 6-14 years.
NCPCR is setting up a centralized helpline, on which complaints can be received. This helpline will simultaneously register the complaint at the appropriate education office as well, so that follow up can be efficiently monitored.
For More Reading. .
- RIGHT TO EDUCATION A NON STARTER IN ANDHRA PRADESH -Prof. K Nageshwar
- ROLE OF A TEACHER IN THE INFORMATION AGE: PRESIDENT SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL
- ADULT AND YOUTH LITERACY: GLOBAL TRENDS IN GENDER PARITY
- WHITHER ENGINEERING EDUCATION IN ANDHRA PRADESH -Prof. K Nageshwar
- TEACHERS AND EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT – Dr. Manmohan Singh