RIGHT TO EDUCATION: OVERVIEW AND LOOPHOLES

“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance”

-Former PM Jawaharlal Nehru

India gained Independence from British colonial rule, after prolonged freedom movement and struggles. With Independence, India became the master of its own destiny and the process to make India a super power and self-reliant began soon. One of the challenges that the country was going to face was with regard to financial viability, as soon after Independence, the economic growth of the country was near to negligible with very low Tax collections. In the Midst of these situations, the country had to invest on human resources in order to build a responsible and knowledgeable work force for the future. As the country was in a state of desperateness, people were not financially strong to even bear the costs of educating their children. Constituent assembly of India, while deliberating with regards to the Obligation of State to educate children, considered all these factors & situations and consequently placed this obligation under Directive principle of state policy (Part IV) rather than Fundamental rights (Part III). We find this observation from the language of Article 45 of the Constitution of India, wherein the obligation on the state to educate children up to the age of Fourteen years, was deferred for Ten years from the adoption of the Constitution. But the turmoil in the Indian Politics never realized this obligation into a reality, the duty of the state underlined in Article 45 came to fora only after 55 years of Independence when 86th Constitutional Amendment act was passed by the legislature that included the Article 21A in the Indian constitution making Education a fundamental Right, also it specified the need for a legislation to describe the mode of implementation of the same which necessitated the drafting of a separate Education Bill.Consequently Right to Education Bill, 2005 (Hereinafter RTE Act) was drafted and was further enacted in 2009. It was a landmark day for the people of India, since one of the Visions of our Constitution framers was coming to life that was Right to compulsory education for children between the ages of 6 to 14 years. The Legal framework was put into place, but the hopes of the majority of population faded with each passing year. The Schools established under the abovementioned legislation, was inadequate and most of the schools even failed to pass the norms already in place governing the education system. One of the Achievements of Right to Education was that it motivated village population to allow girl students to enroll, and it subsequently saw rise in enrollment ratio with changes in some states. But, several discrepancies began to be grounded with regards to “Schools with No Education”, “Schools with No Sanitation” and Schools with No Structures”. On many occasions, even students being taught under a banyan tree was called a school under the Aegis of RTE Act, which talks about serious structural lapses on the implementation of such fundamental right. The Constitution also provides for Article 21 that is Right to Life, which has been interpreted in a very wide manner. If we were to compare the protection of Article 21A with that of 21, it would be like state saying “You have the right to life and liberty, But Sorry we are not accountable for your food”, even Right to food is a fundamental right. This example is to portray the stark differences in the Implementation of a fundamental right, revered by our constitution framers. The Situation would further worsen, if attempts are not made to sincerely take effort in uplifting the standards of Education of poor and under-privileged children. This would portray development of a country in toto.

As in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “The best way to predict your future is to create it”, If India has to achieve the goals of becoming a Super power and self-reliant, it needs to take strides in order to develop its Public Education Infrastructure.