Human Resource Development
Highlights of the Bill
- The 86th Constitution Amendment Act added Article 21A affirming that every child between the age of 6 and 14 years has the right to free and compulsory education. The Right to Education Bill seeks to give effect to this Amendment.
- The State shall ensure a school in every child’s neighbourhood. Every school shall conform to certain minimum standards defined in the Bill.
- Government schools shall provide free education to all admitted children. Private schools shall admit at least 25% of children from weaker sections; no fee shall be charged to these children. Screening tests at the time of admission and capitation fees are prohibited for all children.
- Government schools will be managed by School Management Committees (SMC), mostly composed of parents. Teachers will be assigned to a particular school; there will be no transfers.
- The National Commission for Elementary Education shall be constituted to monitor all aspects of elementary education including quality.
Key Issues and Analysis
- Some experts criticize the Bill for not implementing the ‘common school system’ whereas others believe that even the 25% free seats required of private schools is not justifiable.
- There is a concern that assigning teachers to a specific school will affect their chances of promotions and job security.
- The Bill appears to be ambiguous on its applicability to schools administered by minorities.
- The Bill needs to provide greater clarity regarding the rights of children with disabilities and how these will be implemented.
- There is mixed evidence on the ability of SMCs in improving quality of schools and learning outcomes of children.
- This Bill will cost the exchequer between Rs 3,21,000 crore to Rs 4,36,000 crore over six years in addition to the current expenditure on education. This is estimated to be an increase of between 1.1% and 1.5% of GDP.