A committee constitute by the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) has pitched for extension of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, to pre-school and secondary education, but not before the Union government evaluates the implementation of the law and streamlines “difficulties” and “issues” being faced by the states.
The sub-committee, headed by Minister of State (MoS) for Human Resource Development (HRD) Satya Pal Singh, is learnt to have “in principle” evolved a consensus on making education a right at the pre-primary level and in classes 9 and 10 as well. Currently, the RTE Act covers Class I to VII and makes education a justiciable right for children in the age group of 6 to 14 years.
However, the panel has also observed that expanding the scope of the law “will have strong financial implications” and, therefore, would require clear commitment from the Union government and the states. For instance, bringing pre-school education under RTE will need fresh recruitment of qualified teachers and more classrooms, which means more expenditure. The above suggestions of the sub-committee are likely to be discussed at the upcoming meeting of CABE — the highest body advising Centre and states on education — that will be held on January 15 and 16.
Education ministers of Bihar, Gujarat, Assam, Kerala, Haryana, Maharashtra, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal were also members of this sub-committee. According to sources, some of them expressed concerns about Section 12(1) (c) of the Act, which provides for 25 per cent reservation in private schools for admission of children from Economically Weaker Section (EWS). The state government is expected to reimburse private schools for educating children admitted through the EWS quota.
Education ministers of Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh learnt to have called for scrapping of this provision. Both states feel the money saved can be better utilised for improving education in government schools.
Apart from the suggestions of the above committee, CABE is also expected to take up the status report of the sub-committee on out-of-school children and discuss ways to improve quality and accountability in school education, physical education and digital initiatives in school and higher education.