ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Right to Education and the Union Budget

Need for Renewed Focus

In the interim budget of the union government, Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan received a budgetary allocation of `37,500 crore for FY 2024–25, continuing a trend of consistent decline. The allocation for SMSA needs to be put in perspective, given its importance as the vehicle for the implementation of the right to education. This article critically engages with the shifts underlying central spending on school education and suggests a way forward.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the employer.
 

The historic Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, a fundamental right as per the Constitution, enacted after decades of struggle, provides a legal entitlement guaranteeing every child in the age group of 614 a justiciable right to education that meets certain well-defined norms and principles. Not only does it provide the essential legal framework to fix responsibility when children are denied the right to education, but it also provides a social vision of education and the policy agenda to achieve the social vision (Kumar 2018). In setting out that policy agenda, it presents a critique of the present systemschool and society. It acknowledges the social reality of discrimination of marginalised and oppressed groups and its extension to schools, and that the childs right to equal treatment needs protection.

Over the years, while the probability of entering substandard schools has gone up for the subordinated classes, that of a meaningful learning experience has undoubtedly gone down as the public school system is weakened in myriad ways (Velaskar 2010). In terms of the design of the school, the RTE Act, thus, makes the requirements explicit by setting clear norms and standards for a school. The structure of buildings, classrooms and other infrastructure is specified. The required number and variety of teachers for each level are specified. The minimum pupilteacher ratio along with the number of working days and working hours is to ensure that every child gets the attention they deserve. Each school must be endowed with teachinglearning equipment, library facility, play material, games and sports equipmentall of which are far from the existing status in schools. Professional education and training of teachers are mandatory and have to be achieved in a time-bound manner and teaching time protected from demands of administrative workload. What kind of learning is expected is defined comprehensively in the act (Kumar 2018).

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Published On : 9th Mar, 2024

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