Right to Education Act 2009: Major Issues and Challenges By:sudarshana Rana India remained a major center for education of the world in the ancient and medieval period, during the British Raj. India’s traditional system of knowledge system was by and large destroyed and no other alternate system was created to fill this vacuum. Presently India has emerged as a leading nation in the world. On the other side there are continuous challenges to India. According to UNESCO data ‘largest number of illiterate people of the world are in India’.
In the post- independence era, numbers of steps were initiated in this direction. The preamble of Indian constitution emphasized the need for equal opportunities for the entire population of the country irrespective of caste, creed or religion. The Constitution of India in A- 21 (A), 24 and 39 of the directive principles of state policy pledges its commitment towards the cause for upliftment of children. According to A-21(a) the state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of age of 6 to 14 years as stated by law.
The Background of the Right to education In the early 1990’s India initiated major economic reforms and intensified the process of globalization. India’s political and social life was also pressing through a phase which posed the danger of long accepted value. To enable the people to benefit in the new environment would require new designs of human resource development. For this purpose there was no other alternative except for educating the entire nation. The national policy of Education (NPE) was adopted by parliament in may 1986.
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The new policy lays special emphasis on the removal of disparities and to equalize educational opportunity by attending to those who have been denied equality so far . The National education system plays a positive interventionist role in the empowerment of women. The most important initiative in this direction was the sarv - shiksh abhiyan by which education had to reach each and every Indian . These all initiative failed to deliver the desired results . It is being realized that right based development of children must be the center of planning.
The UPA government gave a top priority to universalization of education . In the common minimum- programme in 2004 , it pledged to rise public spending in education to at least 6% of the GDP with at least half this amount being spent on primary and secondary education. A national cooked nutritious mid- day meal scheme funded mainly by the central government , was introduced in primary and secondary schools. Government also universalized the integrated child development services (ICDS) scheme to provide a functional anganwadi in every settlement and ensured full coverage for all children.
State level variations in literacy : The states like Kerala have done a wonderful work in this direction and such experience can be valuable guide map for the states where the literacy level is quite low. If the existing rate of literacy is allowed to continue then it will be quite difficult to achieve the target of “universalization of education even by 2015, a deadline which has been set up by UNESCO “. Major challenges and issues 1. Finance has been a major problem in front of the government.
What- ever the finances provided by the central government for education is not properly utilized by the various state governments. It has been found that funds for this purpose are systematically diverse by various state governments. 2. Excessive infiltration and migration from the neighboring countries pose a serious problem . The total number of migratory population in India is more than 50 million which is more than the total population of the countries , therefore such migrated population makes quite difficult the implementation of right to education act throughout the country. 3.
Excessive poverty: The majority of population is living under extreme poverty conditions and hence, people do not prefer schools and go in search of jobs or self- employment professions. Therefore without removing poverty, the act cannot be implemented in the full spirit. 4. Lack of involvement of panchayati raj institutions and other social organizations ; it is important that various institutions and grass root level organization must be involved since these institution are directly linked with the common masses and success of the literacy programme is possible only through their involvement.
In nutshell, it can be concluded that the Right to Education Act is a major revolutionary step in the history of post independent era. Private sector has also come to play role in the education –the need of the hour is to have strong public private partnership for the implementation of this act. Moreover, there is a strong need for regular monitoring of this act on a regular basis so that failures can be checked timely.
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