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Right to Education (RTE): Act & Impact in India

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  • 0:04 Access to Education
  • 0:39 India and the RTE
  • 2:01 Outcomes of the RTE
  • 3:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Emily Cummins
Education is not freely accessible to children in many parts of the world. This lesson covers the Right to Education Act in India, which is a constitutional amendment that requires the government to provide free, high quality education to all children.

Access to Education

Depending on where we grew up, access to quality education might be something that we take for granted. We might even complain about having to go to school. But in many parts of the world, education is not a given, and there is a major lack of quality, affordable education, especially for marginalized members of society.

In many countries, children are denied education; but in some of these countries, changes are beginning to happen. In this lesson, we'll focus on the case of India and explore a constitutional amendment that seeks to make education affordable and accessible to everyone in the country.

The Right to Education Act makes school available to all Indian children
Right to Education Act; India

India and the Right to Education (RTE)

In 2002, the 86th amendment of the constitution in India declared that education is a fundamental human right, and that it should be provided to all children ages 6 to 14 years old. Following this, in 2009 the Right to Education Act (RTE) was passed to uphold the new declaration. The Act states some important clauses for education in India:

  • All children should be able to attend school full time
  • All children should have access to education that is the same quality
  • Student-teacher ratios must ensure that there aren't too many students in any one classroom
  • Teachers must be properly trained

As part of this act, the RTE states that children cannot be denied access to education if their parents cannot afford to pay for it. What this means is that the government has to provide education for those who cannot access it for themselves. State governments are required to make sure that this legislation is actually implemented and that schools are following this protocol. This act makes education compulsory for kids between 6 and 14, meaning it's now an obligation of the government to provide it, and it's required for children to attend.

There are also a number of things that the act is trying to prohibit that have been an issue in India's schools in the past, including:

  • Prohibiting physical punishment of any sort
  • Prohibiting emotional or verbal abuse.

Outcomes of the RTE

So, what has happened since the RTE went into effect in India? The results have been a little bit uneven. Let's start with the good.

There have been significant improvements in the physical infrastructure of schools in India. This means that things like toilet facilities have improved, especially in terms of facilities for girls. India has also witnessed improvements in the teacher to student ratio, so classrooms now have fewer students per teacher. There's also been an increase in the enrollment of girls in school in India, and, overall, there's been a definite drop in the total number of students who do not attend school.

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