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Right to Education Act

Education is a fundamental human right, essential for the empowerment and development of an individual and the society as a whole. According to the UNESCO's 'Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2010 (File referring to external site opens in a new window)' , about 135 countries have constitutional provision for free and non-discriminatory education for all. In 1950, India made a Constitutional commitment to provide free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 14, by adding this provision in article 45 of the directive principles of state policy.

With the 86th Constitutional amendment on 12th December 2002, Article 21A was amended (File referring to external site opens in a new window) by the Constitution in order to introduce Right to Education as a fundamental right.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (File referring to external site opens in a new window) finally came into force on 1st April 2010. The Act provides for free and compulsory education to all children in the age group of six to fourteen years. It is now a legally enforceable duty of the Centre and the states, to provide free and compulsory education.

The Act has the following major provisions

  • Every child between the age of six to fourteen years, shall have the right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school, till completion of elementary education.
  • For this purpose, no child shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education.
  • Where a child above six years of age has not been admitted to any school or though admitted, could not complete his or her elementary education, then, he or she shall be admitted in a class appropriate to his or her age.
  • For carrying out the provisions of this Act, the appropriate government and local authority shall establish a school, if it is not established, within the given area, within a period of three years, from the commencement of this Act.
  • The Central and the State Governments shall have concurrent responsibility for providing funds for carrying out the provisions of this Act.

This Act is an essential step towards improving each child's accessibility to secondary and higher education. The Act also contains specific provisions for disadvantaged groups, such as child labourers, migrant children, children with special needs, or those who have a disadvantage owing to social, cultural, economical, geographical, linguistic, gender or any such factor. With the implementation of this Act, it is also expected that issues of school drop out, out-of-school children, quality of education and availability of trained teachers would be addressed in the short to medium term plans.

The enforcement of the Right to Education Act (External website that opens in a new window) brings the country closer to achieving the objectives and mission of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA) and hence is a historic step taken by the Government of India.

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Source: National Portal Content Management Team, Reviewed on: 09-07-2012