The Right to Education began as a directive principle of the state policy and was non-enforceable. Subsequently, a well-deserving position in Article 21 of the Constitution and became a rule to abide by. It got the legislative legitimacy in 2002, after becoming a fundamental right of an Indian citizen under Article 21A. The Right to Education Act, 2009 fortified these measures with legal authorities and thus, made every Indian citizen entitled to be educated. A decade after all proactive efforts being taken, the private and state institutions continue to violate the RTE by denying admissions on unspecific grounds, administrators coming in the way of the children and their education, etc.
RTE violations by private schools in public records
A case of not allowing admission to a child of ‘single-parent’ was noted in the St. Lawrence School, Vashi, Mumbai. The school principal went on record, saying, “We can’t handle children of single-parents. They are a big problem.” When this video went viral, the principal denied the allegations and said that the rejection was due to a lack of vacancy. The child had to take admission in a different school. Later, the education department accepted the ‘apology’ of the principal.
Similarly, schools like Modern School, Vasant Vihar, Delhi denied admitting a student from Economically Weaker Section (EWS) who was allotted the seat under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE Act). The RTE Act mandates the schools to have a 25% reservation for students from EWS, but the school said that they didn’t have a vacancy in the first grade. Such cases of discrimination keep coming in from all around the country. The National Commission and State Commission for Protection of Child Rights – a body which adjudicates on RTE disputes had entertained nearly 10,000 complaints regarding violation of RTE Act, in the year 2019.
Lack of legal action against the schools
This widespread discrimination against the students is not only in the admission process but also how the students are treated in the environment. The National Commission and State Commission for Protection of Child Rights speak and advise against these violations, but there are no concrete actions being taken as there is no regulatory body for school administrators and teachers. There are no provisions for any penal action, not even symbolic.
Hurdles in taking action against the schools
The biggest hurdle in taking any action against the educational institutions is the impact it will have on the hundreds and thousands of students studying there. A professional regulatory body established beforehand can separate the regulations for the teachers and those for the administration. This way, whichever department is found lagging in their compliance with the Fundamental Right to Education mentioned in the Indian Constitution can be punished as per the law.
The Policy Times Suggestions
- The first step to be taken is to establish professional regulatory bodies in the educational sector.
- It must be mandatory for all teachers and administrators of schools and educational institutions to register with the regulatory body.
- A meaningful disciplinary action plan must be laid out for all those whose behaviour is seen to be detrimental to the interests of students and education.
- As the Right to Education clause stands as a toothless tiger today, our nation should work towards securing this act that in turn, will secure the future of education in the country.