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Updated: August 23, 2011 14:42 IST

India joins list of 135 countries in making education a right

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School children attend class in a Government school in Bhopal on Thursday. Photo: A.M. Faruqui
The Hindu
School children attend class in a Government school in Bhopal on Thursday. Photo: A.M. Faruqui

With the Right to Education Act coming into force, India has joined the league of over 130 countries which have legal guarantees to provide free and compulsory education to children.

According to the UNESCO’s ‘Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2010’, about 135 countries have constitutional provisions for free and non-discriminatory education for all.

However, the report says that despite the legal guarantee of free education, primary school fees continue to be charged in some countries.

It also cited a 2005 World Bank survey, which stated only 13 countries impart primary education totally free of cost. In majority of countries, some direct costs have been reported though no tuition fees are charged.

“In reality, free primary schooling still remains the exception rather than the rule,” says the report.

Chile tops the list of countries in providing free education for a period of 15 years to a child. It gives free and compulsory education to children in the age group of six to 21 years.

The Latin American country, where elementary education was among the worst two decades ago, had implemented a special education programme in 1990 which recorded a significant improvement among primary and upper primary students.

There are seven countries such as Germany, Belgium, Italy and Norway that have provisions of free compulsory education to children covering their entire schooling period.

Countries like Britain and New Zealand have made education compulsory and free for children for a period of 11 years.

Spain, France, Norway and Canada are among the 19 nations where education is free of cost for a duration of 10 years, ranging from the age of five to 15 or six to 16 years.

There are 34 countries, including Japan, Finland, Russia and Sweden where a child gets nine years of compulsory education, according to the report.

In India, the Right to Education law, providing free and compulsory schooling to children in the 6—14 year age bracket, came into force yesterday.

With the new education act now operational, India has joined some 20 other countries including Afghanistan, China and Switzerland which have laws guaranteeing free and compulsory education for eight years of elementary education.

India’s neighbours such as Sri Lanka and Pakistan do not have any law providing free education, where as Bangladesh and Myanmar have such provisions for a four-year-period while Nepal has five years of compulsory schooling.

According to the report, there are seven countries, including Romania and Brazil whose laws define seven years of compulsory education for a child, while five countries, including the Philippines and Georgia give children legal right to education for a period of six years.

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iraq and eight other countries have the provision of five years of free education for children.

However, there are over 50 countries, including the US, South Africa, Malaysia and a majority of Sub-Saharan African countries which do not have any constitutional provision to provide free and compulsory education to children.

The UNESCO report, however, does not have data about certain countries on whether they have any constitutional provision of providing free education.

The report also states that some countries have achieved extraordinary progress in their education system and the number of children dropping out from schools has declined by 33 million worldwide since 1999.

Illiteracy is a root of all the problems we are facing today. It should emphasise more on our duties, rather on our rights as an Indian. I acknowledge the efforts our minister is putting in it.

from:  sadhna
Posted on: Aug 25, 2010 at 10:01 IST

Better late than never

from:  sharan
Posted on: Aug 9, 2010 at 00:57 IST

This was the need for the country to hope for a better future....

from:  Apoorva
Posted on: Aug 7, 2010 at 14:12 IST

Excellent! More quality needed.

from:  JVelinkar
Posted on: Jul 4, 2010 at 22:59 IST

Yes, illiteracy is a big problem; bigger than this uncontrolled population growth.

from:  drbharat
Posted on: May 31, 2010 at 23:06 IST

Indeed, it is a bold step to ensure elementary education to all. India have a place in 130 countries. Many people have not really read the RTE Act nor understood the act.

The act indirectly helps to lower the standard of schooling in India. Free and compulsory cannot bring quality in education. It is genuine effor by children, their parents and teachers can bring the real in the children.

The RTE Act promotes fake promotion, fake schooling and fake nurturing of one's talents.

from:  VJ Thomas
Posted on: May 12, 2010 at 07:38 IST

The Act is good but still needs for amendments, exclusion of 0-6 and 14-18 age group in the Act is a sheer denial of fundamental right to education of billions of children of the country.Further, Act does not aim for adopting common school system with equal opportunities. Inequity between JNVs, Kendriya Vidyalayas, Sainik school and government schools at villages should be abolished.

from:  K. Pradipkumar
Posted on: Apr 16, 2010 at 17:43 IST

It's too late in our cuontry.Anyhow we are also listed among 130 countries in globe.

from:  reddy
Posted on: Apr 8, 2010 at 12:09 IST

I am happy for the government for passing the Education act but the implementation part has to be done in an effective way. Indian education system needs more than an Act. The issues related to lack of teachers, lack of proper infrastucture, the interest among the children have to be addressed.

from:  N Ashok
Posted on: Apr 6, 2010 at 12:42 IST

It is good that all children will be educated .

from:  tirtha
Posted on: Apr 5, 2010 at 21:44 IST

I feel so proud to be an Indian even more so with the announcement of free education. My belief in the Indian Education system gets stronger.

from:  Aneesha Bhatia
Posted on: Apr 4, 2010 at 18:34 IST

This is very good thing, but we want education to be provided with minimum fee till 12th. I hope that in the near future each person will be educated.

from:  manish pal
Posted on: Apr 4, 2010 at 09:58 IST

This is an excellent step towards inclusive growth of the country. However, I'm skeptical about the implementation part.

from:  Viswanadh
Posted on: Apr 3, 2010 at 13:39 IST

I believe this is the one step that is needed to be taken if we want to take a leap against all. It is the education that induces the qualities like self dependence, confidence, pride & values. Although the Government will face many problems but the pain is worth taking. A very hearty congratulations to all.

from:  akash mhowwala
Posted on: Apr 3, 2010 at 12:46 IST

I would like to express my heart felt thanks to Hon'ble Shri Manmohan Singh and a dynamic HRD Minister Shri. Kapil Sibal for ultimately opening the doors of immense opportunities in the field of education which in fact was long overdue. Now,the task is left to us fellow citizens, SHG's, NGO's and especially civil society to lay a course of direction for this revolution.Further,better integration will be required with other UPA flagship schemes like NRHM,Mid day Meal Scheme and SSA.At the implementation level which is at the crux of any scheme,the role of the state govts and local govts assumes even a greater significance.

The print media has also a great role to play in checking the implementation and exposing the loopholes as it has done every now and then in NREGA,and "The Hindu" has a special responsibility in this, as I think it is one the best interface providing quality content to citizens daily morning. Congratulations to Shri N.Ram for the exceptional service.

from:  Sukul Sen
Posted on: Apr 3, 2010 at 11:36 IST

Definitely its a fantastic step for approximately one crore of children to exercise their right to get free and compulsory education of equitable quality. It should have been implemented during 90s when Germany, Italy and Belgium introduced it or even before. Only law is not sufficient; there must be a strict provision to ensure that the funds allocated for education and welfare of poor children are. I thank to Mr. prime minister, HRD minister Mr. Sibbal and to all who took keen interest in producing this important bill.

from:  Deepak Kumar
Posted on: Apr 3, 2010 at 09:36 IST

It should have to come before 50 years ago.

from:  Vidhan
Posted on: Apr 3, 2010 at 07:42 IST

Illiteracy and uncontrolled popullation growth are the two evils India is facing. There is now some light at the end of the tunnel.

from:  Dr Ajo John
Posted on: Apr 3, 2010 at 03:18 IST

I welcome the move by the Government to pass this act. Education is a fundamental right and every child in the country should have the opportunity to exercise it. The toughest part comes now...the implementation. I really hope with as little corruption as possible, the education is imparted. The government should advertise in TV advising people especially in rural areas about their rights. The only disappointment about this bill is that Jammu and Kashmir has been excluded from the provisions of the bill since it is covered under Article 370. I really do not see the utility of this article in this day and age.

from:  Narahari Rao
Posted on: Apr 3, 2010 at 02:07 IST

Yes,it's a good step towards vision INDIA 2020, but there are many challenges to implement this. Most important is to maintain quality of education in primary level.

from:  Rohan Kudtarkar
Posted on: Apr 3, 2010 at 01:10 IST

Bravo! After independence this is the single most important requirement. We must help people help themselves. This is a starting point. Let's keep those road maps for equality, inclusivity and social development.

from:  Samir Mody
Posted on: Apr 3, 2010 at 00:34 IST

It is a very good step. If we just look at the rural areas, most of the children in India are illiterate. So it is our prime duty to educate them.

from:  Biswajit Dash
Posted on: Apr 2, 2010 at 22:59 IST

It is a right step towards making India self reliant and world economy. UPA Govt & HRD departments deserve kudos for it. We may also start compulsory Mid Day meal scheme.

from:  anil jain
Posted on: Apr 2, 2010 at 22:40 IST

One of the finest decisions taken by govt. of India.

from:  aadarsh gupta
Posted on: Apr 2, 2010 at 21:27 IST

Ya!! Finally ......

from:  Nilesh Manohar
Posted on: Apr 2, 2010 at 21:03 IST

Good step......let's see how far this goes!!!.......

from:  shakti
Posted on: Apr 2, 2010 at 19:42 IST

This is a bit late but utterly welcome move of the government. It should have come much earlier. Now the major challenge before the government is to improve the quality of public schools and to bridge the gap between private school educated and government school educated students.
The percentage of allocation in budget for education should be increased as even the failed states like Zimbabwe happened to have greater literacy rates than that of India; and that too after India having such relaxed norms for a person to be counted as literate.

from:  Alok Maurya
Posted on: Apr 2, 2010 at 18:29 IST

It's realy good because education is basic for everything and I think government should also consider increasing employment.

from:  Abhishek Kumar Srivastava
Posted on: Apr 2, 2010 at 17:47 IST

Getting this fundamental right implemented is mammoth task. The only way the govt can implement this is by inviting private participation and giving compensation for the same to the private sector for providing it free. In addition, it should upgrade the teacher's training and salaries and make the procedure of hiring more transparant and hurdle free in govt. schools and increase level of inspections and set up standards for all schools to follow.

from:  ashish khanna
Posted on: Apr 2, 2010 at 17:45 IST

It's really a move in a right direction. The only way to make an equitable society is by providing elementary education to children of our country. The govenment at the centre must be applauded for enacting such an Aact. As a responsible citizen, it remains our duty to co-operate by all means so that this effort be a fruitful one.

from:  Vijay K. Tiwari
Posted on: Apr 2, 2010 at 17:40 IST

Right to Education Act is a great step forward in the development of the country as well as welfare of the children of economically weak section of the society. India always faced problems for all welfare schemes at the implementaion stages. Strong and effective local governments are necessary. If the scheme functions under the direct control of state government, the success rate will be very low and blame game will start. The scheme will become like other leaking subsidies and thousands crores of rupees will vanish in no time.

from:  Prem Sabhlok
Posted on: Apr 2, 2010 at 16:54 IST

Not at this time.

from:  sumant khuntia
Posted on: Apr 2, 2010 at 16:36 IST

India is a country of young people. If we don't take steps now to make our population more productive, we will end up with a huge burden 30-35 years down the line. This step is well taken though bit late.

from:  deus
Posted on: Apr 2, 2010 at 16:27 IST

No doubt it is a great move even though after 63 yrs of our freedom. I hope the entire nation will feel proud when all the children of India are well-fed and attend school.

from:  Sudhansu Karmakar
Posted on: Apr 2, 2010 at 16:15 IST

If this was the law since 1950 the face of India would have been totally different. Education standards would not have been what it is today and we would have had a better informed populace.

from:  M Prabhakar Menon
Posted on: Apr 2, 2010 at 15:52 IST

Good move by the government. Hats off to Mr.Kapil Sibbal. He is consistantly performing exceptionally well. First education minister who is doing something good for the country.

from:  Ashokkumar Valechha
Posted on: Apr 2, 2010 at 15:47 IST

Good move India. Keep rocking

from:  Ravindran
Posted on: Apr 2, 2010 at 15:27 IST

This move has been like a revolution... something really historic...but it is our sole duty now to really consolidate on this one in our country should be left uneducated and illeterate...please everyone of us has to do something to keep this up. Only then our country will prosper.

from:  amit raj
Posted on: Apr 2, 2010 at 15:07 IST

The Free and Compulsory education to every child aged 6~14 by the Govt. of India is a move in a right direction for the better future of Our Country. However, to implement the scheme practically, Govt. has an arduous task ahead. The school dropout rates are very high, may it be from elementary, primary or secondary levels. One of the main causes for the dropouts is the prevalence of poverty. Parents engage their children for daily wages to win the bread and butter. Therefore, Govt. should establish more no. of schools with board and lodging facilities and should increase the infrastructure on the existing systems. I ask the people to divest their unnecessary costs from IPL, Malls and rather to invest in these kinds of govt. schemes through NGO’s to promote the best causes. This way we can assure our govt. with our support and hence reap the benefits of our investments in other forms to develop India. Govt. should also consider increasing employment for everyone in one or the other form.

from:  Chidambar Rao Bhukya
Posted on: Apr 2, 2010 at 14:23 IST

This is the very good move from the goverment at the end. This will end so many current issues in our country. Education is basic for every thing. If every one in our country is educated means, no poverty and so and so on.

from:  N.Sathishwaran
Posted on: Apr 2, 2010 at 12:14 IST
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