The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009; Important Question

 

  • What is this Act about?

This Act is about a child’s right to education. It ensures that all children get free education from class 1 to class 8. To achieve this, the Act lays down some duties for governments, schools, teachers and parents.

The Act also contains rules on pupil-teacher ratio, teacher vacancies, penalties for conducting screening tests and punishing children.


  • Does this Act apply to all children?

This Act only applies to children between the ages of 6 to 14. However, children who are more than 14 years old but have not been able to attend school till class 8, can get free education till class 8 under this Act.


  • How does this Act help children?
  • All children between the ages of 6 to 14 can get free education from class 1 to class 8, in a nearby government school or aided school.
  • Children who have never been to school or have dropped out, can get back to school. They will get admission in a class suitable to their age.
  • Children who are poor or underprivileged in some way, can get free education till class 8 in a private school.
  • Children must be given admission in a school even if they don’t have documents like transfer certificate and age proof.
  • Children cannot be forced to give tests for getting admission in a school.
  • Children cannot be asked to leave school or be forced to repeat a class, till they complete class 8.
  • It is illegal to beat up or harass a child.

  • Why is the word ‘compulsory’ used?

The word ‘compulsory’ means that it is compulsory for the government to give free education to all children. It does not mean it is compulsory for parents to send their children to school.


  • How can a child get free education in a private school?
  • Children from ‘disadvantaged groups’ and ‘weaker sections’ can get free education in a private school. These terms are explained below.
  • Every private school has to keep 25% of its seats in class 1 for children from ‘disadvantaged groups’ and ‘weaker sections’.
  • The school has to give free education to these children till class 8.

Please note that both the Central and State/UT Governments have issued rules which may contain additional or modified requirements which have to be followed by schools.


From Chapter I Preliminary

Section 1. Short title, extent and commencement. —

  • To whom does this Act apply?
  • This Act applies to children between the age of 6 and 14 years in all Indian states except Jammu and Kashmir.
  • It has been in place since 1st April, 2010.
  • This section talks about minority schools and religious schools.

  • Who are minorities and what are minority schools?
  • Minorities are religious groups other than Hindus, such as Christians, Muslims and Parsis.

Minorities are also groups in a state who don’t speak the main language of the state, such as Tamilians in Haryana or Gujaratis in Karnataka.

  • Minority schools are schools run by members of a minority group.

  • Does this Act apply to minority schools?

No.

  • The Constitution of India allows minorities to run schools in their own way, so that they can protect their culture and language. This means that minority schools don’t have to follow all the rules which apply to other schools.
  • For example, minority schools don’t have to follow this Act where it says private schools should keep 25% of their seats for poor children and give them a free education.
  • In 2014, the Supreme Court decided that this Act will not apply to any minority schools, including those which receive any kind of support from the government (minority aided schools).
  • This is a controversial issue. It is still being debated if minority schools should follow this Act or not.

  • What are religious schools and does this Act apply to such schools?

They are schools which give religious education, like Madrasas and Vedic Pathshalas. The Act does not apply to such schools.


  • From Section 2. Definitions.
  • What is an appropriate government under this Act?

In India, all levels of government run schools. Appropriate government means the government which is running or is in charge of the school. This may be:

  • Central Government,
  • a State Government, or
  • government of a Union Territory (UT).

In case of schools run by a Union Territory without a legislature (such as Lakshadweep or Daman and Diu), it will be the Central Government.


  • What is capitation fee?

Capitation fee is any extra money or donation that a school asks for at the time of admission.


  • Which groups of children have special rights under this law?

This law recognizes that some children will need extra support to get a good education, such as children from disadvantaged groups and weaker sections, and children with disability.


  • Who is a child belonging to a disadvantaged group?

A child belonging to a disadvantaged group can be –

  • a child with a disability,
  • a child from a Scheduled Caste (SC),
  • a child from a Scheduled Tribe (ST),
  • a child who is not SC or ST but is from a group which is socially or educationally backward.

Apart from this, State and UT Governments can decide if there are some other children who are disadvantaged. For example,

  • a child with HIV,
  • a transgender child or child of transgender persons,
  • an orphan,
  • a child living on the street,
  • a child of a migrant worker.

Please check the government notification issued by the state or UT to figure out who are ‘children belonging to disadvantaged groups’ in your state or UT.


  • Who is a child belonging to a weaker section?

A child belonging to a weaker section is any child whose parents are poor.

State and UT Governments have to fix a minimum income limit. Any child whose parents earn less than this limit will be a child belonging to a weaker section, in that state or UT. Please check the government notification issued by the state or UT to figure out the minimum income limit in your state or UT.


  • Who is a child with disability?

A ‘child with disability’ includes –

  • a child who is blind,
  • a child who has low vision,
  • a child who has been cured of leprosy,
  • a child who is deaf or who can’t hear properly ,
  • a child who has problems with movement ,
  • a child with mental retardation (a child whose mind has not developed fully),
  • a child with autism,
  • a child with cerebral palsy,
  • a child with any other mental illness,
  • a child with 80% or more disability, or
  • a child with more than one of any of the above disabilities.

  • Who is a guardian?

A guardian is someone who looks after a child like a parent, but is not the child’s parent.


  • What is a local authority under this Act?

Under this Act, a local authority is a government body which runs a school. This authority functions at a level lower than a state or UT government. It may be a –

  • Municipal Corporation,
  • Municipal Council,
  • Zila Parishad,
  • Nagar Panchayat,
  • Panchayat, or
  • Any other similar body.

  • Who is a parent?

A parent can be the –

  • Natural/biological mother or father
  • Step mother or father, or
  • Any woman or man who has adopted a child.

  • What is a school under this Act?

A school under this Act is one that:

  • is recognised (this means it must have a certificate from the government allowing it to run), and
  • has classes from 1 to 8 (it may have pre-primary classes and higher classes also).

Schools can be of four different types –

Government school A school which is run by the Central, State or UT Government, or by a Municipal Corporation, Zila Parishad, Panchayat etc.
Aided school A school which is not run by any government, but which gets some funds from the government.
Specified category school A special type of school run by the government. For example, Kendriya Vidyalayas (which are mainly run for children of government employees), Sainik Schools (which are mainly run for children of army persons), or Navodaya Vidyalayas (which only take children who are very good at academics).
Unaided school A private school. Such schools don’t take any funds from the government.

  • What are specified category schools?

Specified category schools are special types of schools run by the government such as a Kendriya Vidyalaya, Navodaya Vidyalaya or Sainik School.


From Chapter II Right to Free and Compulsory Education

Section 3. Right of child to free and compulsory education

  • What does the right to free education mean under this Act?

    Any child between the ages of 6-14 can study for free from class 1 to class 8 in a nearby government school or aided school.

    • This includes a disadvantaged child, child from a weaker section or a child with disability.
    • Aided schools have to set aside a minimum number of seats for children who want to get free education under this law. The number of seats reserved will depend on the amount of aid it gets from the government.
    • These children can also study for free from class 1 to class 8 in a nearby private school or specified category school. The Act says such schools must give free education to a minimum number of children.

Such a child cannot be forced to pay any money which makes it difficult for her to complete her education till class 8.


  • Do children with disability have any special rights?
  • A child with disability has special rights for getting education. Some of these are –
    • She can get free education till she turns 18.
    • She can study part-time after class 5.
    • She can get special books and equipment that she needs for free from the government.
  • Also, the government has to take special steps to help children with disability get education – give transport facilities, scholarships, part-time classes, informal education, make it easier for such children to give exams etc. This is provided under another law.
  • A child with 80% disability or two or more disabilities can choose to be educated at home.

From Section 4. Special provisions for children not admitted to, or who have not completed, elementary education.

  • How does this Act help children who have dropped out of school or have never been to school?

In India, there are many children who don’t go to school. There are also children who join school but drop out before finishing their education.

Under this Act,a child who is older than 6 years and has never gone to school or a child who is older than 6 years and has gone to school but dropped out before completing class 8 –

  • will be admitted to a class suitable to her age. For example, a 12 year old child who has never gone to school will be admitted to class 6 or class 7, and not class 1or 2.
  • Such a child will get extra help with studies so she can catch up with other children of her age.
  • Such a child will have the right to free education till class 8, even after the age of 14.

From Section 5. Right of transfer to other school

  • Can a child shift to a different school before she finishes class 8?

Yes. Every child has the right to shift to another government school or aided school if the school does not have classes up till class 8.


  • What if a child is moving to a different state?

A child still has the right shift to another government or aided school in the new state.


  • What if a child doesn’t get a transfer certificate from the school she is leaving?

The new school has to admit the child, even if she doesn’t have a transfer certificate. At the same time, there is a duty on the person in charge of the school to issue a transfer certificate immediately.


From Chapter III Duties of Appropriate Government, Local Authority and Parents

Section 6. Duty of appropriate Government and local authority to establish school.

  • Who will make sure that there are enough schools for all children in India?

The Central, State and UT governments, and local authorities have to make sure that there is a school in every neighbourhood or locality.

Section 7. Sharing of financial and other responsibilities.

This section talks about how the Central Government and State Governments have to share responsibility for paying for the implementation of this Act.It also lays out the duties of the Central Government under this Act.

Section 8. Duties of appropriate Government.

This section talks about the duties of the State and UT governments.

The section also says that if a parent has admitted a child into a school which is not a government school or an aided school, they cannot try and get reimbursement for their child’s education under this law.

Section 9. Duties of local authority.

This section talks about the duties of local authorities like Municipal Corporations, Zila Parishads, Panchayats etc.

This section also says that if a parent has admitted a child into a school which is not a government school or an aided school, they cannot try and get reimbursement for their child’s education under this law.


Section 10. Duty of parents and guardian.

  • What is the duty of parents and guardians?

Parents and guardians have a duty to send their children to school from class 1 to class 8. However, it is not compulsory for them to do so.


Section 11. Appropriate Government to provide for pre-school education.

  • What does this Act say about pre-school education or education before class 1?

Governments can provide pre-school education to children between the ages of 3-6 years. However, it is not compulsory for them to do so.


Section 12. Extent of school’s responsibility for free and compulsory education. —

  • Does every school have to give free education to all children?

No. The duty of different types of schools for giving free education is explained below –

Government School Free education to all children studying in class 1 to class 8.
Aided School Free education to a proportion of children from class 1 to class 8. The proportion will be the same as the proportion of the school’s annual expenditure that it gets from the government. But it cannot be less than 25%
Specified CategorySchool and Private School Fill up at least 25% of its seats in class 1 with children from ‘disadvantaged background’ and ‘weaker section’. Give free education to these children from class 1 to class 8.
If the school starts from Nursery or Kindergarten, it will fill up at least 25% of its seats in the lowest class with children from ‘disadvantaged background’ and ‘weaker section’ and give free education to these children till class 8.

  • Will private schools get any money from the government for giving free education to 25% of children?

Yes. The government will pay them the amount they spend on every child or its own per-child expenditure – whichever is lower.


  • Can these schools charge fee from the remaining 75% of children?

Yes.


Section 13. No capitation fee and screening procedure for admission. —

  • Can the school ask for any money or donation at the time of admission?

No. If a school does this, it can be punished with a fine which can go up to 10 times the amount of money or donation it takes.


  • Can schools test or interview a child before giving her admission?

No. If a school does this, it can be punished with a fine of Rs. 25,000. If it continues to disobey, it can be punished with a fine of Rs. 50,000 each time it doesn’t follow this rule.

However, private schools may still have some type of testing procedure for children who don’t apply for the 25% free seats.


Section 14. Proof of age for admission. —

  • Can a school refuse to admit a child if she does not have any age proof?

No. While it is helpful to have a birth certificate, not having one does not mean that your child will not be entitled to a free education under this Act. There is duty on schools to not deny admission simply because the child does not have age proof.


Section 15. No denial of admission.

  • Can a child get admission in a school after the academic year has started?

Yes. A child can get admission in a school at any time of the year.


Section 16. Prohibition of holding back and expulsion.

  • Can a child be asked to repeat a class?

No. Every child has to be promoted or passed to the next class till she reaches class 8.


  • Can a child be asked to leave the school for any reason?

No. A school cannot ask any child to leave until she completes class 8.


Section 17. Prohibition of physical punishment and mental harassment to child. —

  • Is it legal for schools to hit or harass a child?

No. It is illegal for schools to:

  • give any physical punishment to a child,
  • give any punishment which causes pain to a child, or
  • use abusive words while talking to a child.

Please remember that any kind of punishment which affects a child physically or mentally is unlawful.Any person who violates this can be punished under the service rules applicable to that person.


Section 18. No school to be established without obtaining certificate of recognition. —

This section talks about the ‘recognition’ of schools.Every school (other than a government school) which has been set up after this Act came into place has to follow some rules. If it doesn’t, it will not be recognised by the government. Under the rules, even schools which were set up before the Act came into place had to file for recognition within 3 months.

  • What happens if a school gets recognised but then stops following the rules?

The certificate of recognition will be taken back and it will be de-recognised.

  • If a school is de-recognised, what happens to the children studying in that school?

The children will get admission in a nearby government school.

  • What if the school keeps running without a certificate?

It will have to pay a fine which can go up to Rs. 1 lakh. If it keeps running even after this fine is charged, it will be have to pay Rs. 10,000 for every day after that.


Section 19. Norms and standards for school.

  • What are the conditions to be met by these schools to get a certificate of recognition?

This section talks about the norms and standards that a school must follow for setting up and getting recognition. For example, every such school must have –

  • enough teachers, depending on the number of children
  • a proper building with enough rooms
  • separate toilets for boys and girls
  • drinking water facility
  • playground
  • library

The full list of norms and standards is given at the end of the Act.


Section 21. School Management Committee. —

  • What is a School Management Committee or SMC?
  • It is a committee of parents, teachers and politicians, which looks after the activities of a school.
  • 75% its members have to be parents or guardians.
  • Parents or guardians of children belonging to disadvantaged groups and weaker sections also have to be represented
  • At least 50% of the members have to be women
  • Do all schools have to set up an SMC?

No. Only government schools and aided schools have to set up SMCs.

  • What are the functions of the School Management Committee?

The functions include:

  • keeping a check on school activities;
  • making a plan for the development of the school; and
  • checking the way in which money from the government or other source is being used.

The School Management Committee in minority and government aided schools will only play an advisory role.


  • Explain Section 22. School Development Plan. —
  • The SMC has to make a School Development Plan
  • The plan talks about the school’s needs and budget
  • The government has to make grants to the school based on this plan.

Section 23. Qualifications for appointment and terms and conditions of service of teachers. —

  • Who can become a teacher?

Any person can become a teacher if she has the minimum qualifications set by the government. (The government usually conducts a test, and people who pass the test get qualified to be a teacher)


  • What happens if a state does not have enough teacher training institutes or enough teachers with minimum qualifications?

The government can relax the minimum qualifications for up to 5 years.


24. Duties of teachers and redressal of grievances. —

  • What are the duties imposed on teachers under this Act?
  • A teacher has to attend school regularly.
  • She must complete the curriculum on time and according to the government rules.
  • She must try and understand the learning ability of every child she is teaching. If a child needs more help, she must support the child accordingly.
  • She must hold regular meetings with the parents and guardians and discuss the child’s attendance, ability to learn and progress in class.

  • What can happen if she does not perform these duties?
  • If a teacher does not perform these duties, she can face disciplinary action
  • If a teacher faces any problem, it can be resolved through a mechanism set up under the Act.

25. Pupil-Teacher Ratio. —

  • What is Pupil-Teacher Ratio?

It is the ratio of number of students to the number of teachers in a school.For example, the Act says that if a school has 60 students in classes 1-5, it should have at least 2 teachers for them. Please check the Schedule to the Act to figure out the pupil-teacher ratio applicable to your child’s school.


  • Explain Section 26. Filling up vacancies of teachers.

The government has to make sure that not more than 10% of total teacher posts in its own schools remains empty.


Section 27. Prohibition of deployment of teachers for non-educational purposes.

  • Can teachers take up non-educational activities?

Teachers can only take up some non-educational activities such as population census (which happens once in ten years), disaster relief duties and election duties, but not any others.


28. Prohibition of private tuition by teacher.

  • Can teachers give private tuition?

No.


Chapter V Curriculum and Completion of Elementary Education

  • Explain Section 29. Curriculum and evaluation procedure. —

This section talks about the duty of the government to set up a curriculum and exam procedure for classes 1-8.


Section  30. Examination and completion certificate. —

  • Does a child have to give any board exam between classes 1-8?

No


Chapter VI Protection of Right of Children

  • Explain Section 31. Monitoring of child’s right to education. —

This section talks about the functions of the National and State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

  • These bodies have to make sure that children are getting their rights under this Act.
  • They can make recommendations to the government and deal with complaints about violation of a child’s right to free education.
  • States which don’t have State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights have to set up another authority which can perform these functions.

Section 32. Redressal of grievances. —

  • What can you do if a child’s rights under this Act are violated?
  • You can write a complaint to the local authority in your area. (the state or UT government will decide who is the local authority for this purpose)
  • The authority, after hearing both parties, has to decide the matter in 3 months.
  • If you are not happy with the decision of the authority, you can go to the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights or the authority set up in its place.

  • Explain Section 33. Constitution of National Advisory Council.? —

This section talks about the setting up of a National Advisory Council which has to advise the Central Government on the implementation of the Act.


  • Explain Section 34. Constitution of State Advisory Council. —

This section talks about the setting up of State Advisory Councils which shall advise State Governments on the implementation of the Act.


Chapter VII Miscellaneous

  • Section 35. Power to issue directions. —

This section talks about the power of the Central, State or UT governments and local authorities to issue guidelines for enforcing the provisions of the Act.


  • Section 37. Protection of action taken in good faith.

This section prohibits any legal action against the Central/State Government, National/State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, local authority, School Management Committee for actions (in relation to the RTE Act) which are in good faith.


  • Explain Section 38. Power of appropriate Government to make rules.? —

This section talks about the subjects on which the Central, State or UT government can make rules under this Act.For example, the State or UT government will decide –

  • the size of a neighbourhood in which a school has to be set up,
  • the way in which records of children should be kept,
  • duties of a teacher apart from the ones mentioned in this Act, and
  • the way in which SMCs have to prepare the School Development Plan.

  • Explain Section 39. Power of Central Government to remove difficulties:

This section talks about the powers of the Central Government to remove difficulties in enforcing the Act.


 

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