On Thursday — April 1 — India will join a group of few countries in the world, with a historic law making education a fundamental right of every child coming into force.

Making elementary education an entitlement for children in the 6-14 age group, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 will directly benefit close to one crore children who do not go to school at present.

In an unprecedented move, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday will address the nation, announcing the operationalisation of the Act.

“Tomorrow [Thursday] is a historic day as the Right to Education Act comes into effect. For the first time, education will become a constitutional right. It is a tryst with destiny in the area of education,” Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters. He said it was the responsibility of all stakeholders to enforce it.

“But to think that we have passed a law and all children will get educated is not right. What we have done is preparing a framework to get quality education. It is for the entire community to contribute and participate in this national endeavour,” he said.

Nearly 92 lakh children, who had either dropped out of schools or never been to any educational institution, will get elementary education as it will be binding on the part of the local and State governments to ensure that all children in the 6-14 age group get schooling.

As per the Act, private educational institutions should reserve 25 per cent seats for children from the weaker sections of society.

The Centre and the States have agreed to share the financial burden in the ratio of 55:45, while the Finance Commission has given Rs. 25,000 crore to the States for implementing the Act. The Centre has approved an outlay of Rs.15,000 crore for 2010-2011.

The school management committee or the local authority will identify the drop-outs or out-of-school children aged above six and admit them in classes appropriate to their age after giving special training. As per the Act, the schools need to have minimum facilities such as adequate teachers, playground and infrastructure.