By Tanya Rana – Assistant Program Leader, Good Rural Governance
Education is a fundamental human right and is essential for the exercise of all other human rights. It promotes freedom, a sense of self-respect and yields important development benefits. However, hundreds of thousands of children and adults in India remain deprived of educational opportunities due to poverty. Education is a powerful tool through which children from economically and socially marginalized households can lift themselves out of poverty and participate fully as citizens.
In 2009, the Government of India passed the Right to Education (RTE) act to reaffirm the right to free and compulsory primary education. Unfortunately, much of the Indian population that would benefit most from the RTE act is not aware that it exists. The RTE act needs to be promoted more heavily so that more Indians can demand that education is provided for their children. A higher level of education will increase the vocational opportunities of this generation of children in India and will help families to rise above poverty.
The RTE stipulates various mandatory school facilities and community’s responsibilities to ensure that the schools run and function appropriately. For example, School Management Committees ensure that there is a regular check on the proper functioning of the school. The RTE further helps parents to know more about the curriculum taught to their children and other activities their children are involved in the school. This allows parents to monitor the progress of their children.
Providing compulsory primary education, the RTE addresses society’s deeply rooted inequalities by helping children to seize opportunities that come their way. Primary education is particularly important because basic education provides children with the choices and the power to control their future. Unless the community is aware of various provisions in the RTE, the benefits envisioned in the Act cannot be reaped.
It has been observed over the years that the positive effects of an act depend on its implementation. State efforts are needed to make this education accessible to all. We need to educate the masses to spread awareness about the provisions of this act. We also need to work together to build capacities of the School Management Committees so that they function in a transparent and accountable manner.
Is the state geared to implement the Right to Education Act to be instrumental in educating the millions of out-of-school children in India? And if not, how can we all help to improve access to and quality of education for this generation and future generations of children in India?