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RIGHT TO FREE AND COMPULSORY ELEMENTARY EDUCATION

by: Anshuman Kar

The base of a child’s childhood and his/her upbringing is built up by the things he/she learns about, in the early years.

An inherent right to any person in his early years should be knowledge, and it is important to ensure that this knowledge is imparted to the child, properly and efficiently.

This helps shape a child’s present, and the coming future, and helps him develop as a person in later stages of life.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009 was a stepping stone in the history of India’s Educational development, taking its initial idea from the Ramamurti Committee Report of 1990.

This helped in facilitating education to countless Indians right from an early age, for education was considered as a boon by many until the later years of the era of the 2000s, or at least helped in implanting an idea within the mind of the common Indian that education, to him, was a right, and not a blessing.

Article 21(A) of the Constitution of India cites down the various fundamental rights of the citizens of the Indian subcontinent, and with the introduction of the Act, the Right to Education got included within the umbrella of the Fundamental Rights mentioned in the constitution, among others.

The article provides for the education of children between 6-14 years of age and also helps in promoting equity by providing reservation to backward classes and religions, as required. 

The relation between education and rights

To define education, we term it as an ongoing process throughout the life of an individual. An individual starts learning from the time of his birth and might not be aware of it.

Education refers to the acquisition of knowledge, skills, morals, beliefs and so on. Education is significant to every individual as it helps an individual improve oneself.

It helps individuals think about situations and problems that they face more rationally and practically and it improves the cognitive ability of individuals.  

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Rights form a fundamental part of human beings are they are something that is inherent and does not hold any sort of biases based on caste, race, sex and so on.

Nobody has the right to attack these rights of an individual, because these rights are usually legally protected.

If anyone infringes an individual’s right, the affected party has the right to take legal action against it.

The common clause between that of education and rights is such that education can be understood as a basic requirement to understand the concept of rights.

This is because to understand the concept of rights you need to be educated for it. The higher the level of education, the higher the understanding of rights and duties.

This means that only an educated person would understand the depth and the scope that the rights possess. An uneducated person cannot comprehend such a scope because he has already been deprived of the sole means of understanding which would help him comprehend what the right even says.

In other words, increased access to education by the members of society increases the ambit of rights desired by society. 

It is nearly impossible to maintain the level of education without access to rights in a country. This is because education in itself, being a right, allows education to be accessible to all the children regardless of their economic background.

Moreover,  no matter what you do to get the level of education to be consistent and accessible to all, there will still be inequalities present or the age-old biases present in the minds of the people, for example, the girl child has no use of education hence there is no need for her to go to the school to study and so on.

Provisions under the Act

Under the aegis of providing children with free education, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act was brought forward, which ensures that children have access to proper elementary education as an equitable resource.

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The Right to Education acts in full faith, as a building block to ensure that every child has his or her right to get a quality elementary education.

Mentioned below, are some important aspects of the act:

  • All children in the age group of 6-14 years are eligible for fee, primary education.
  • Under Article 21(A) of the Constitution of India, it enforces education as a Fundamental Right.
  • According to the age of the child, the act ensures that the beneficiary under the act is allotted an appropriate class according to his/her age group.
  • Under the act, measures are taken to prohibit the following:
  • Physical punishment and mental harassment.
  • Screening procedures for admission of children.
  • Capitation fee.
  • Private tuition by teacher.
  • Running of schools without recognition.
  • Division of important responsibilities such as finance between the Centre and the states.
  • Focuses on providing the child a friendly environment where he/she is free from trauma, fear and anxiety, through ensuring the existence of a child friendly atmosphere.

Judicial approach towards the issue

The court identifies children among the nation’s most essential assets and states that their rights are to be protected.

Nutrition and attentiveness should be among the primary factors the state and its subjects should pay attention to, when it comes to attending children, to focus on the development of a children’s programme which needs to find a noticeable part in our national plans for the overall development

of human resources. Equalitarian methods and principles for development to all children during the period of development should be our aim, for this would serve our larger purpose of reducing inequality and ensuring social justice.

The court states that the concept of Fundamental Rights is absolute and necessary, and can only be amended to an extent where they don’t alter the structure of the constitution.

As per the opinion of the court, the Directive Principles of State Policy have to run coherently and as a subsidiary to the chapter on Fundamental Rights and so long as there is no violation of basic fundamental rights of the citizens, the state can act upon the Directive Principles of State Policy.

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However, the power of the state is limited to the different provisions mentioned under the Constitution.

Conclusion

With a proper understanding of this project, we can view how education is more than just a fundamental right to an individual, especially a child.

From covering the drawbacks of what follows through if the distribution of education is not ensured for every child, to covering the Right to Education Act, this project talks about the progress made through the years in facilitating a very important aspect of life to children- Education.

For a country like India which has been surrounded by various stigmas from the primitive times, the provision of education would be a big step towards ensuring the erasure of all these stigmas which have been passed on from generations beginning with the provisions of education of the girl child in the urban as well as the rural society to providing quality education to those in most remote areas of the nation, providing education to every individual free of cost should be the aim of the state- by the state, for the state.

The right to free and compulsory education for children is one of the many topics that make us ponder the importance of education in a child’s life, among others.

It is even read alongside the right to life, for education becomes one of the very essential elements to uphold the dignity of an individual.

For every individual who is a part of the state, it should be the state’s responsibility to ensure that everyone’s needs are catered to, right from an early age, out of which education stands out as one. 

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