The Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on December 15, 2008 and was referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resource Development (Chairperson: Shri Janardan Dwivedi). The Standing Committee is scheduled to submit its report within three months. Please see our Legislative Brief on the draft Right to Education Bill, 2005.
Highlights of the Bill
- The 86th Constitution Amendment Act, 2002 requires the State to provide free and compulsory elementary education to all children. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2008 seeks to give effect to this Amendment. All children between the ages of six and 14 years shall have the right to free and compulsory elementary education in a neighbourhood school.
- No child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until the completion of elementary education. Schools may not screen applicants during admission or charge capitation fees. A child who completes elementary education shall be awarded a certificate.
- Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas, Sainik Schools, and unaided schools shall admit at least 25% of students from disadvantaged and economically weaker groups.
- A person who wants to file a grievance claim shall submit a written complaint to the local authority. Appeals shall be decided by either the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights or the specified authority.
Key Issues and Analysis
- There are no specific penalties if the authorities fail to provide the right to elementary education.
- Both the state government and the local authority have the duty to provide free and compulsory elementary education. Sharing of this duty may lead to neither government being held accountable.
- The Bill provides for the right to schooling and physical infrastructure but does not guarantee that children learn. It exempts government schools from any consequences if they do not meet the specified norms.
- The constitutional validity of reservations of seats in private schools for economically weaker sections could be challenged.
- Minority schools are not exempt from provisions in this Bill. It is possible that this will conflict with Article 30 of the Constitution, which allows minorities to set up and administer educational institutions.
- The Bill legitimises the practice of multi-grade teaching. The number of teachers shall be based on the number of students rather than by grade.