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Building a Brighter Future

11:44 PM Apr 26, 2024 IST | MUNEEB RASHID MALIK
building a brighter future

Muneeb Rashid Malik


The goals set out in the Constitution of India cannot become real unless everyone in the country is educated. The idea of fair treatment for all is just a dream for many who cannot read or write. Education is the key to helping people, take part in making these goals happen. In our country, every citizen has a fundamental right to education, which flows from Article 21 of the Constitution. All children have the right to free education until the age of fourteen. After that, their access to education depends on the financial situation and progress of the state. Article 21-A of the Constitution envisages that children receive quality education, which means teachers must be skilled and capable. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (hereinafter referred to as the “Act”) came into force on 1st April, 2010, to provide for free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years.




Which child has the right to free and compulsory education?



Every child of the age of 6 to 14 years, including a child belonging to a disadvantaged group and a child belonging to a weaker section, shall have the right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school till the completion of his or her elementary education.




What fees or charges are prescribed for children pursuing elementary education?

No child shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses that may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education.


Do children with disabilities have the same rights regarding education?

A child with a disability has the same rights to pursue free and compulsory elementary education. Additionally, children with multiple disabilities and those with severe disabilities may also have the option to choose home-based education.


Are there any special provisions for children who have not been admitted to school or could not complete their elementary education?

If a child above 6 years of age has not been enrolled in any school or could not complete elementary education, he/she must be admitted to a class suitable for his/her age. If directly admitted to his/her appropriate class, he/she has the right to receive special training to be at par with others. Additionally, such a child is entitled to free education until completing elementary education, even after turning 14.


What rights does a child have regarding transferring to another school for completing elementary education?

In schools, where elementary education cannot be completed, a child has the right to transfer to another school, except for specific categories, such as unaided schools not receiving government or local authority support. Similarly, if a child needs to change schools within or outside the state, he/she has the right to transfer, excluding the aforementioned category of schools. The head-teacher must promptly issue a transfer certificate, and any delay in doing so cannot be used to deny admission in the new school. Delays by the head teacher may result in disciplinary action as per service rules.


What is the responsibility of parents or guardians regarding their child’s education?

It shall be the duty of every parent or guardian to admit or cause to be admitted his or her child or ward, as the case may be, to an elementary education in the neighbourhood school.


What is the extent of school’s responsibility for free and compulsory education?

Schools established, owned or controlled by the appropriate Government or a local authority must provide free and compulsory elementary education to all children admitted. An aided school receiving aid or grants to meet whole or part of its expenses from the appropriate Government or the local authority must provide free and compulsory elementary education to a certain proportion of children admitted, based on the ratio of annual recurring aid or grants received to annual recurring expenses, with a minimum of 25% per cent. A school belonging to specified category and an unaided school not receiving any kind of aid or grants to meet its expenses from the appropriate Government or the local authority, must admit at least 25% of the strength of class I children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups in the neighbourhood. They must provide free and compulsory elementary education until completion. If the above-mentioned schools provide pre-school education, the same provisions apply for admission to such pre-school education as well.


Are capitation fee and screening procedures for school admissions allowed?

No school or person shall collect any capitation fee or subject a child, parent, or guardian to any screening procedure while admitting a child. If any school or person receives capitation fee, they may be fined up to ten times the amount charged and if they subject a child to screening procedures, they may face fines of up to INR 25,000 for the first contravention and INR 50,000 for each subsequent contraventions.


How is the age of a child determined for admission to elementary education?

The age of a child for admission to elementary education is determined based on the birth certificate issued according to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, 1886, or any other prescribed document. However, no child can be denied admission to a school due to a lack of age proof.


Can an admission be denied?

A child must be admitted to a school at the beginning of the academic year or within any extended period. However, admission cannot be denied even if sought after the extended period. Any child admitted after this period must complete their studies as prescribed by the appropriate government.


When can a child be held back or expelled?

No child admitted to a school shall be held back in any class or expelled from school until the completion of elementary education. The appropriate Government may allow schools to hold back a child in the 5th class or in the 8th class or in both classes, if he/she fails in the re-examination.


What is the law concerning physical punishment and mental harassment of children?

No child shall be subjected to physical punishment or mental harassment. Anyone who violates this shall be subject to disciplinary action under the applicable service rules.


What is the School Management Committee?

A School Management Committee consists of elected representatives of the local authority, parents or guardians of children enrolled in the school, and teachers. The majority of the committee members, at least three-fourths, must be parents or guardians. Additionally, there should be proportionate representation for parents or guardians of children from disadvantaged groups and weaker sections, with at least 50% of the committee members being women.


What are the functions of the School Management Committee?

The School Management Committee has several functions, including monitoring the school’s operations, developing and recommending a school development plan, overseeing the utilization of grants received from the appropriate Government, local authority, or any other source and carrying out other functions. However, for schools established and administered by minority groups based on religion or language, as well as all other aided schools, the School Management Committee performs advisory functions only.




What is School Development Plan?

Every School Management Committee, except those for schools established and administered by minority groups based on religion or language, and aided schools, shall prepare a School Development Plan that serves as the basis for plans and grants provided by the appropriate Government or local authority.

What are the duties of the teachers?

Teachers appointed must maintain regularity and punctuality in attending school, complete the curriculum based on conformity with constitutional values, fostering the all-round development of the child, cultivating the child’s knowledge, potential, and talent, enhancing physical and mental abilities to the fullest, encouraging learning through activities, discovery, and exploration in a child-friendly manner, preference for the child’s mother tongue as the medium of instruction, creating a nurturing environment free of fear and anxiety, allowing children to express themselves freely, implementing comprehensive and continuous evaluation of the child’s understanding and application of knowledge, ensure completion of the entire curriculum within the specified time, assess the learning ability of each child and provide additional instructions as necessary, hold regular meetings with parents/guardians to update them on attendance, learning progress, and other relevant information about the child, etc.

Is private tuition by teachers allowed?

Teachers are prohibited from engaging in private tuition or any private teaching activity.

How can grievances related to a child’s right under the Act be addressed?

Individuals with grievances concerning a child’s rights under the Act can submit written complaints to the appropriate local authority. Once received, the local authority must address the matter within three months, ensuring a fair hearing for all the involved parties. If dissatisfied with the local authority’s decision, the aggrieved party can appeal to either the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights or the prescribed authority. The appeal will then be reviewed and decided upon by either the State Commission or the prescribed authority.

What are the requirements for a school building?

The school building should be an all-weather structure and must include at least one classroom for every teacher, along with an office-cum-store-cum-head teacher’s room, barrier-free access to facilitate accessibility for all, separate toilets for boys and girls, safe and adequate drinking water facilities for all students, a kitchen for preparing mid-day meals, a playground for recreational activities, and arrangements for securing the school building, such as a boundary wall or fencing.

Is it necessary for a school to have a library?

Yes, there shall be a library in each school providing newspaper, magazines and books on all subjects, including story-books.

In conclusion, it is the government’s responsibility to enhance school infrastructure and adopt modern teaching methods. It is also important for all of us, as responsible citizens, to join hands with the government in ensuring free and compulsory education for all children aged six to fourteen, and to ensure that every child receives quality education in the country.

Muneeb Rashid Malik is an Advocate practicing before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and he is the Legal Advisor to Kashmir Uzma. He tweets @muneebmalikrash.


The contents of this article are intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.