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Right to Education Act – Doorway to India’s success story

Right to Education Act

Right to Education Act

The Right to Education Act is one of the most ground-breaking and powerful acts that have been passed by the Indian Government. While there were acts previously to promote primary education, through the banning of child labour, spreading awareness and giving emphasis to primary education in the country, the RTE act, which was passed on 1st April, 2010, is historic, as it gives every child of our country between the ages of 6 and 14 the right to demand free education.

The RTE act is reinforced with programmes like the Sarva Shikska Abhyan (SSA) which aims to standardise and improve the quality of education all across our country. The programme seeks to open schools in areas which don’t have schools, and encourage education by improving the facilities like drinking water, sanitation, etc and infrastructure, like proper classrooms, benches, black boards, etc of local municipal and village schools. In our country, as per the last census data (2001), the literacy rate was around 65% where literacy is defined as the ability to write one’s own name in any language. While 70% of the children below the age of 5 are literate, the rates decrease steadily with the increase in age group. Hence, the need for the RTE act was logical and inevitable.

Education makes a human being identify himself as a member of the society. It gives us freedom, clarity of thought, and a clearer perspective. It is the nectar that enriches the mind of a person, and makes him able to think broadly from various angles, become sensitive to the needs of others in the society. He can then contribute, through productive work and communication, to the growth of the society on a whole. It is only an educated society that can share empathy and master the art of resolving issues peacefully. It helps a person understand who he is, how he is different from others, and the various levels on which he can connect with others. Thus, for any nation to grow and develop, education for all its citizens is a must.

RTE act was passed keeping in mind the power of education and its role in the development of a nation. However, to achieve this, proper implementation of this act is required, and it is here that we see major challenges. Firstly, most people in the lower income groups and BPL families still don’t prefer educating their children, as they feel that their children would be much better off earning some money for the family. In spite of the ban on child labour several years ago, it is still rampant in India, and stings our eyes like poisonous fumes. For example, on your way to work each day, how many chai shops have you seen, where the waiters and the cleaners are children no older than 13? All traffic signals at every city in the country has its share of barefoot, scantily clothed tiny kids, no older than 10-12, with scrawny bodies, and large eyes that gleam unnaturally large on their small faces. They are seen begging or selling trinkets at these signals.

Some NGOs and righteous people have tried convincing people to send their kids to school, and some have even succeeded. But even those parents, who want to see light at the end of the tunnel for their kids, and send them to the municipality or village school; get dejected by the poor quality of education. The teachers are often untrained and under-paid. Some of them don’t even go on duty daily. They pocket the salary they receive from the government and work other jobs elsewhere. The vast amount of clothes, benches, etc sent by the government in order to improve the schools are sold off illegally. The schools are dirty and most of them don’t even have roofs over the classrooms. Often these are located at places very far away from the houses of the parents who want to educate their kids, and there is no proper means of transport.

The issues are endless. But they have to be dealt with. Children are the future of our country, and they need to receive good quality education. Some of the ways of dealing with the issues are strong hiring policies and higher salaries for the teachers; and strict performance measures for the school staff. Also, awareness must be spread among the people about RTE act. This could be done by making compulsory community service as part of the curriculum for students in graduate courses. Each of us must take the responsibility. It is our country too, and we cannot expect the government to do everything.

About Anindita Chatterjee

Career and Education: I am currently PGDM 2nd year student (operations) from K J Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and research, Mumbai. I had a prior work experience of almost 2 years at Verizon Data Services India, Hyderabad, where I served as a server administrator. My work involved troubleshooting all kinds of OS and Hardware problems with Windows 2003 servers. My graduation consists of BE in IT from CBIT, Hyderabad. Social: Born in Mumbai to Bengali parents, raised in Hyderabad, studying now in Mumbai, I am pretty much the PAN Indian. I love making friends and meeting new people, although I wouldn’t really call myself a social butterfly. I love writing, and am a voracious reader – be it fiction or non-fiction. I think that one of the biggest comforts in life is being able to curl up on the couch with a great, exciting new book after a day’s work. I also enjoy all kinds of music, and I am a complete movie buff. I realise that there are grey areas in most issues, but I do call a spade a spade, when it’s glaringly obvious. I believe in God, but I’m not religious. I feel that it’s important to focus on the purpose rather than the medium used to achieve the purpose.

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