The Right of children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE Act) ensures that every children between the age of 6-14yrs have the fundamental right to get free education in "neighbourhood schools" .
A Brief History of RTE :
The Right to Education Act amendment was done in 2009 and has come into force from April 1st, 2010. Previously RTE has been a part of the directive principles of the State Policy under Article 45 of the Constitution, which is part of Chapter 4 of the Constitution. And rights in Chapter 4 are not enforceable. For the first time in the history of India we have made this right enforceable by putting it in Chapter 3 of the Constitution as Article 21. This entitles children to have the right to education enforced as a fundamental right.
The RTE Effect:
Right to Education. The Act makes it mandatory for every child between the ages of 6-14 to be provided for education by the State. This means that such child does not have to pay a single penny as regards books, uniforms etc… too.
Any time of the academic year, a child can go to a school and demand that this right be respected.
Private education institutions have to reserve 25% of their seats starting from class I in 2011 to disadvantaged students.
Strict criteria for the qualification of teachers. There is a requirement of a teacher student ratio of 1:30 at each of these schools that ought to be met within a given time frame.
The schools need to have certain minimum facilities like adequate teachers, playground and infrastructure. The government will evolve some mechanism to help marginalized schools comply with the provisions of the Act.
There is anew concept of ‘neighbourhood schools’ that has been devised. This would imply that the state government and local authorities will establish primary schools within walking distance of one km of the neighborhood. In case of children for Class VI to VIII, the school should be within a walking distance of three km of the neighborhood.
Unaided and private schools shall ensure that children from weaker sections and disadvantaged groups shall not be segregated from the other children in the classrooms nor shall their classes be held at places and timings different from the classes held for the other children.
Relation of RTE with Navodaya?
Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti is appealing for its exclusion from the RTE act since it falls in a separate category. The reasons why Navodaya Vidyalayas should be excluded from the jurisdiction of RTE is that Navodaya Vidyalayas start from class VI and not class I. The schools, located in all districts, have 75% seats reserved for rural children. Seats are also reserved for children from SC and ST communities in proportion to their population in the district, but not less than the national average. One-third of the seats are for girl students and 3% of the seats are for disabled children. Till class IX there is no fee, and from IX to XII, Rs 200 is charged per month. NVS argued that since these schools cater primarily to poor rural children, there is no reason for it to give 25% reservation.
Is Navodaya an Exclusion to RTE:
NVS had sought HRD ministry's opinion after it received notice from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights last year for flouting RTE norms. HRD ministry had sought the opinion of former Chief Justice of India A S Anand, who said Navodaya Vidyalayas are special category schools. Later, even the Attorney General also gave a similar opinion.The law ministry while agreeing with the AG's opinion had said instead of issuing a notification that Navodaya Vidyalayas fall in a separate category, the RTE Act should be amended. However, the ministry was of the view that the Act does not need to be amended since section 2(p) puts Navodaya Vidyalayas in a specified category along with Kendriya Vidyalayas and Sainik Schools.
It has been considered by the ministry of human resources that Navodaya Vidyalayas belong to a different category of Schools and they are not included under the RTE Act. but the recent proceedings in the Tis Hazari Court disproves the explainability of such a notion.
Case won by boy in lower court
A boy aged 11, Krishan Kumar Jha has filed a case against Navodaya Vidyalaya for not giving admission to him.In September 2011, Krishan, through his father Pradeep Kumar Jha, a trader, filed a case against the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, the education ministry and the Centre. Krishan's argument in the court was that he was competent for admission in Class VI in any school but they chose Jawahar Navodaya as it was located near their house. And as per the RTE Act he ought to get admission since this is his fundamental right.
Krishan's petition says “It is very clearly stated in the law that all children should get the opportunity to study in a school near to his home so that every child can be educated. It also states that a student cannot be denied education in any school. Navodaya disregarded all these rules in denying the admission,”The court judge Ajay Pandey announced its verdict on 3rd December saying “The plaintiff (Krishan) has a fundamental and civil right to get admitted into the state-run education institution in his nearby locality. In the facts and circumstances, the plaintiff is entitled to admission in the school,”. The Judge has asked the school authorities to admit Krishan immediately.The district judge said the child had taken the correct step by approaching the court to ensure that his fundamental rights were not violated. “A minor had to look to a court of law to get his right to education. For this, his education suffered for six months. To get admission in the VIth standard, a child need not have some special qualifications. But despite that, the school played with the future of the child. Now, the school should admit him without any further delay,” judge Pandey said.
It is clear that the issue of RTE Act and Navodaya Vidyalayas has not settled yet. Previously it has caused a delay in the entrance exams of Navodaya Vidyalaya too.