10 things you need to know about the RTE Act #HaqBantaHai

10 things you need to know about the RTE Act #HaqBantaHai

With about 3.45 crore children in the country outside the formal schooling system according to the Census figures, the Supreme Court’s refusal to further hear a PIL by Akhil Delhi Prathmik Shikshak Sangh seeking the implementation of the Right to Education for these kids who are unable to access the facilities of free education comes as a disappointment. The plea also mentioned that about 9.5 lakh posts of teachers in government schools lying vacant and that there were numerous violations of specific regulations laid down by the RTE Act. As of the 2011 Census of the 23,35,83,108 children aged 6 to 14 in India, only 19,90,55,138 were enrolled in schools which included enrolments in unrecognized schools and madrasas. RTE being a justiciable act passed about a decade ago can be brought before the court of law in case it is violated or not implemented. This being said, the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the writ petition saying that India was a huge country with many priorities and that miracles should not be expected overnight can hardly be seen as less than an act of denying justice.

Education is a human right all throughout life and that access must be matched by quality. Here are 10 things you should know to understand RTE

1. It is compulsory and free!

Compulsory – It is obligatory for the Government to provide free and compulsory elementary education, up to Class 8th, to each and every child in India in a neighbourhood school within 1 km.

Free – It means that 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. The free education includes the provision of textbooks, uniforms, writing materials, special materials for children with disabilities, in order to reduce the burden of school expenses.

Oxfam India

2. Minimum standards are set

RTE Act lays down norms and standards relating to Pupil-Teacher-Ratios (number of children per teacher), classrooms, separate toilets for girls and boys, drinking water facility, number of school-working days, working hours of teachers, etc. Each and every elementary school (Primary school + Middle School) in India has to comply with these minimum standard set by the RTE Act

Oxfam India

3. Admission for all

RTE Act mandates that an out of school child is admitted to an age appropriate class and provided with special training to enable the child to come up to age appropriate learning level.

Oxfam India

4. Quantity and Quality of Teachers

RTE Act provides for rational deployment of teachers by ensuring that the specified Pupil-Teacher-Ratio is maintained for each school and there is no urban-rural imbalance.

The Act mandates appointment of appropriately trained teachers, i.e. teachers with the requisite entry and academic qualifications.

Oxfam India

5. No discrimination and No harassment

RTE Act prohibits physical punishment and mental harassment; discrimination based on gender, caste, class and religion; screening procedures for admission of children; capitation fee; private tuition by teachers and running of schools without recognition.

Oxfam India

6. All-round development

RTE Act provides for development of curriculum, which would ensure the all-round development of every child. Build a child’s knowledge, human potential and talent.

Oxfam India

7. No detention

RTE Act mandates that no child can be held back or expelled from school until Class 8th. The Act has mandated the Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) method to ensure grade appropriate learning outcomes.

Oxfam India

8. By the people, for the children

School Management Committees (SMCs) play a crucial role in strengthening participatory democracy and governance in elementary education. All schools covered under the Act shall constitute a School Management Committee consisting of head teacher, local elected representative, parents, community members, etc. The committees have been empowered to monitor the functioning of schools and to prepare school development plan.

Oxfam India

9. Justiciable

RTE Act is justiciable and is backed by a Grievance Redressal (GR) mechanism that gives opportunity to people to take action against non compliance of various provisions of the Act.

Oxfam India

10. Private schools included

RTE Act mandates all the private schools to reserve 25 per cent of the seats for children belonging to socially disadvantaged and economically weaker sections. This provision of the Act is aimed at furthering social inclusion for a better India.

Oxfam India


Why should we support Education for Girls?
As per UNICEF data records the adjusted primary net enrolment rate for the year 2014-15 was 91 and 90 for girls. About 31 million girls across the globe do not have access to primary education. Equality in the sexes in terms of their access to education and health has an intrinsic value in its own light. In India, the total enrolment in primary schools in India during the year 2014-15 was 1, 97,666 where only 95,556 of them were girls. Young girls in India are often forced to or voluntarily drop out of schools since they either have to look after their younger siblings or have to contribute to the household chores. Centres opened by Oxfam India in different areas in priority and priority plus states help both school going and non-school going kids to be at par with the school curriculum. The non-school going kids are prepared so that they are able to appear for the admission tests in schools and get enrolled in an age-appropriate class. A child who was unable to read or write is also taught in a manner that suits his interests leading to maximum learning. If a child fails or is unable to clear her tests or exams she becomes demotivated to continue her studies. Community organizations help these children to complete their schooling through registrations with NIOS. These community-based organizations also offer various vocational courses like English speaking, stitching, BPO service calling for the girls to be able to be economically dependent. If educated, girls can contribute equally to economic development thus reducing gender imbalances in terms of education which enhances human capital formation. An extensive study on the human capital theory suggests that education plays a major role in increasing the productivity of the economy by increasing the factor output per worker. Education and human resource development are at the center of long-term economic developmental plans. The lack of safety and security also leads to girls discontinuing school. Morning school for girl students is followed by afternoon school for boys. Senior students often complain that the boys tease and follow them home at the time when their school is over. Due to they are earlier complains police patrolling had increased when the girls came out of school however as soon as the number of policemen decreased he boys continued to harass them. Many girls had dropped out of school because their parents believed that it was no longer safe to send their daughters to school. Despite continuous complaints to both the police as well as the SMC members the problem still persists. The NCPCR has introduced new guidelines for the health, hygiene, safety, and security of students both in private and government schools. The new guidelines point out that girls must be taught about menstrual hygiene and be supported so that they do not miss school. They also state that schools should ensure zero tolerance on any matter related to sexual abuse of a child and stringent action shall be taken against the perpetrators of law.

An educated girl also understands the high importance of education for her future generations and is able to create a better lifestyle and provide better healthcare to her children. Apart from this, educating a girl child will directly reduce infant and maternal mortality rates, child marriages, domestic and sexual violence in families. An educated girl is also more likely to participate in political discussions, meetings, and decision-making leading to the formation of a more representative and democratic government.     

You can help girls missing from India’s classrooms today. Donate now and help make a lasting change.

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