The Centre on Friday informed the Delhi High Court that the draft policy on education has recommended extending the ambit of The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, to “include early childhood education and secondary school education”.
“This would extend the coverage of the Act to all children between the ages of 3-18,” the affidavit in the High Court by the Ministry of Human Resource Development said.
It further said, it will ensure that by 2030, all students will enroll and participate in quality school education. It said that the ministry is in the process of finalising the National Education Policy (NEP) based on suggestions and inputs received from various stakeholders on the issue.
Presently, the RTE Act mandates free and compulsory education to children in the age group of 6-14. The Centre was responding to Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking free education for Economically Weaker Students (EWS) in unaided schools up to Class XII. Following which, the HC had asked the government to respond to the proposed amendment in the RTE Act.
The plea, filed by an NGO called Social Jurist, through its counsel Ashok Agarwal, has claimed that, as per the Act, free education is provided to Disadvantaged Groups (DG) and EWS students in unaided schools up to class VIII.
The PIL has claimed that students from these categories were being harassed by schools across the country to pay fees. The NGO has claimed that students across the country admitted under the RTE are facing the threat of removal after passing Class VIII and the very objective of the Act — to help children gain access to education irrespective of their financial background — would be defeated if EWS students were not allowed to study till Class XII.