The right to education is enshrined in the Indian Constitution. The past and the present

The right to education is enshrined in the Indian Constitution. The past and the present

On August 4, 2009, the Indian Parliament passed the Right to Education Act 2009, popularly known as the RTE Act 2009. According to Article 21(A) of the Indian Constitution, it explains the necessity of free and mandatory education for children aged 6 to 14 in India. After the implementation of this act on April 1, 2010, India joined the list of 135 nations that have made education a fundamental right for all children. It establishes basic standards for primary schools, outlaws the operation of unrecognised institutions, and opposes admissions fees and kid interviews. Through routine surveys, the Right to Education Act monitors all neighbourhoods and identifies children who qualify.

In India, there have long been significant educational issues at the national level as well as in the states. The Right to Education Act of 2009 outlines the tasks and obligations of the federal government, each state, and all local governments in order to close any gaps in the nation’s educational system.

Education’s fruit is sweet, but its root is bitter. Despite the fact that I start my introduction with this lovely remark, it is regrettable that only half of India’s youngsters, ages 6 to 14, attend school. Between the ages of 6 and 14, 3 million kids do not attend school. Moreover, 70 million kids worldwide are prohibited from attending school each day. We will learn about the fundamental need for education in relation to human rights, the difficulties facing education in India, the rights linked with education, acts, amendments, funding allocations, and many other elements relating to the Indian Constitution in this article.


Education is the process of acquiring knowledge, skills, beliefs, and habits. It also aids in removing individuals who are economically and socially oppressed by poverty.

19% of all children on the planet are said to reside in India. Why does that matter? The vast majority of young people lived in India. However, it is also true that India is home to one-third of the world’s illiterate people. It’s not like the rate of literacy hasn’t increased; it has, but the growth rate is incredibly slow compared to the rate of decline. The rate was 12.6% from 1991 to 2001, but it has since dropped to 9.21%.

The right to free and compulsory education legislation (RTE), which established education as a basic right for children aged 6 to 14, was introduced by the Indian government in response to these worrying issues.

The Right to Education Act is a proposed piece of legislation by the Indian parliament that, as of the age range of 6 to 14, emphasises the value of free and mandatory education. It was first introduced on August 4, 2009. India is now one of the 135 nations to guarantee every child’s right to an education as a fundamental right under Article 21A of our constitution. On April 1, 2010, this law became operative.

  1. Free and compulsory education for all

In India, the government is required to provide free and required primary education to each and every child, up to class 8, in a neighbourhood school within a 1 km radius. No child is required to pay any fees or other costs that would keep them from pursuing and finishing their elementary education. To lessen the financial burden of school expenses, free education also involves the distribution of textbooks, uniforms, stationery items, and special educational materials for students with disabilities.

Oxfam India criticised the Right to Education (RTE) Forum’s 2013 Stocktaking Report, which examined the Right to Education Act’s three-year development since it was passed in 2009.

While significant progress was made in areas like primary-level enrollment rates, opening new schools, hiring new teachers, and ensuring that students had access to safe drinking water and restrooms, the total delivery fell short of expectations. In its policy brief, Oxfam India offered five suggestions for closing gaps and loopholes that will improve the Right to Education Act’s 2009 implementation and efficacy.

  1. The mandatory benchmark

The Right to Education Act establishes guidelines and standards for classrooms, boys’ and girls’ restrooms, drinking water facilities, the number of school days and working hours for teachers, among other things. These rules must be followed by every elementary school in India (Primary + Middle School) to uphold the minimum standard required by the Right to Education Act.

  1. Specific guidelines for unique circumstances

According to the Right to Education Act, a child who is not enrolled in school must be accepted to a class for their age and get additional instruction to help them catch up to age-appropriate learning levels.

  1. The number and calibre of teachers

The Right to Education Act ensures that the necessary pupil-teacher ratio is maintained in every school without any urban-rural imbalance at all, allowing for the sensible deployment of teachers. Additionally, it requires the hiring of teachers who have the necessary academic and professional training.

In 2018, Oxfam India examined the Right to Education Act’s nine-year evolution after its 2009 enactment. The observations showed that both general and elementary schools significantly underfunded education. The total learning outcomes of the kids needed to be improved, and this was hardly sufficient. In its policy brief, Oxfam India suggested seven solutions to this issue.

  1. There is no room for discrimination or harassment.

The Right to Education Act of 2009 outlaws all forms of corporal punishment and psychological abuse, as well as discrimination based on gender, caste, class, and religion, as well as capitation fees, private tutoring facilities, and the operation of unrecognised schools.

Less than 10% of schools nationwide, according to the Right to Education (RTE) Forum’s 2014 Stocktaking Report, adhere to all of the requirements of the Right to Education Act. Even though the Right to Education Act of 2009 brought about a lot of reforms, concerns about education privatisation persist. Inequalities in education have persisted for a long time in India.

Right To Education Act, RTE 2009

Historical Background

  • 1950: Constitution of India provided under Article 45, as one of the directive principles of State policy, which states that: The State shall endeavor to provide for a period of ten years from the inception of the Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they reached the age of fourteen.
  • 1968: First National Commission established for education under the supervision of Dr. Kothari and submits its reports. It introduced several far-flight changes as a uniform syllabus for both boys and girls, mathematics and science should be made as compulsory subjects and It is also proposed a common school system.
  • 1976: Constitutional amendment for making education in a concurrent subject (responsibility of central and state) was passed.
  • 1986: The National Policy on Education (NPE) supports to Common School System (CSS) and was formulated. Subsequent NPE’s endorsed CSS but it has never been implemented.
  • 1991: A book is written Myron Wiener bearing the title The Child and State in India: Child labour & Education in comparative perspective highlighting the states’ failure to swap up child labour and exploitation on children and enforce compulsory education in India.
  • 1993: The Supreme court in the case of Mohini Jain and Unnikrishnan vs the State of Andhra Pradesh ruled that the right to education is a fundamental right that flows from the Right to life in Article 21 under Indian Constitution.
  • 1997: Constitutional Amendment for making Education a fundamental right was introduced.
  • 2002: 86th Constitution Amendment takes place and insertion of Article 21A has been done, which states that “The State shall be bound to provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age group between six to fourteen years in such as a law, determine.” This 86th Amendment also brings changes in Article 45 which read “The state shall endeavour to dispense early childhood care and free education for all children until they reached the age of 6 years”. And also added a new fundamental duty under Article 51A(K).
  • 2005: CABE committee report established to draft the Right to Education Bill submits its report.

After many schedules of meetings, drafting and redrafting the right to education act was made which is a genuine instrument to full fill the basic demand and secure social justice for every child. This policy work on 4A’s which tells about what education means to them and their present situation in the context of this ideology.

  • Availability –In that sense education is free and the government is bound to fund the education and expert teachers in his/her subject and well qualified are there and sufficient infrastructure able to support educational framework.
  • Accessibility – This means education is for all, and there is no sense of discrimination especially to support the weaker section of society.
  • Acceptability– That the value of education is appropriate, there is no discrimination and culturally acceptable, and subject to some quality; that the school place which is harmless and teachers are well qualified.
  • Adaptability – That education dynamic and develop with the changing needs of society and its people and contribute to overcoming the inequalities, such as sex discrimination.


Every citizen has access to social justice through the fundamental structure, and policymakers must handle education as a social issue if they are to ensure that equality of opportunity is a reality for all. And if a person is not given the opportunity to live a life devoid of suffering and difficulties, it is impossible to achieve social transformation, which is the main goal of education.

The Indian Constitution’s Part III contains Article 21-A, which now recognises the right to education as a basic right. In the case of Mohini Jain v. State of Karnataka, this was done. This matter will be decided by the Supreme Court division bench. Judge Kuldip Singh and R.M. Sahai determined that:

“Right to education is the essence of the right to life and directly flow and interlinked with it, and life living with dignity can only be assured when there is a significant role of education”.

In J.P. Unnikrishnan v. State of Andhra Pradesh, a five-judge bench later re-examined the judgment’s legality and found that:

“Right to education” refers to the ability of a citizen to request that the government provide them with educational resources based on their financial ability.

In the circumstances mentioned above, the right to education is listed as a fundamental right under Article III. In the case of Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Education vs. K.S. Gandhi, the supreme court referred to the aforementioned ruling in relation to the case Bandhua Mukti Morcha, etc. v. Union of India. Numerous additional cases seek to establish that the right to education is a fundamental right.

Therefore, it would be the State’s responsibility to provide the facilities and opportunities for children mandated by Articles 39(e) and 39(f) of the Constitution and to avoid the exploitation of their youth because of extreme destitution and hopelessness.

Provisions were given in the Constitution promoting and strengthening the educational framework in India 

  • Article 28: In our Constitution Article 28 provides freedom to attend any religious instruction or religious worship in educational institutions.
  • Article 29: This article gives equality of opportunity in educational institutions.
  • Article 30: Acknowledge the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.
  • Article 45:This article mandate the state shall dispense to provide within a period often years from the inception of this Constitution for free and compulsory education for all children of this country until they complete the age of 14 years. The responsibility for providing elementary education lies within the scope of the state Government, the Central Government, the Local Bodies and authorities, and voluntary organizations or any other government organization.
  • Article 46 talks about the special care for the furtherance of education and economic interests of the Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Caste, OBC and the weaker sections of society.
  • Article 337: This article regulates the special provision with respect to educational grants for the benefit of the Anglo-Indian community.
  • Article 350B: It provides grants and offers for linguistic minorities.
  • Article 351:This article deals with the development and promotion of the Hindi language.

86th Constitutional Amendment Act

This constitutional amendment is intended to protect citizens’ rights to education. Given the challenges India faces in the area of education, it is crucial for the country’s policymakers to amend the constitution and make changes to its educational system so that more Indians can exercise their right to education and improve their lives for the future.

86th constitutional amendment act, 2002 brings three new changes in our constitution, for better functioning, and to facilitate a better understanding of the right to free and compulsory education to children age group between six to fourteen. (6-14)

These are:

  1. Insertion of new Article 21Ain part III of the Indian constitution, which provides that every child has the right to free and compulsory education of equitable quality and subject to some norms and standards.
  2. Bring alteration and modification in Article 45and substituted as the State shall endeavor to assure early childhood care and free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of six years.
  3. Adding the new clause, (K) under Article 51A, the result of this new fundamental duty is added which states that whosoever is a parent or guardian has a duty to furnish opportunities for education to his child or, as the case may be, ward between the age group of six to fourteen years.

In Shyam Sundar case

The court held that the “right of a child should not confine only to free and compulsory education, but should be enhanced to have quality education without any discrimination based on their economic, social and cultural background.


In the State of Madras v. Shrimati Champakam Dorairajan [6], in this case, the supreme court gives a landmark judgment. This judgment results in the First Amendment of the Constitution. Here the court held that providing such contradictory reservations was the reason for infringement of Article 29(2) of the Indian Constitution. Court held:

Fundamental rights are sacred and can not be subject to abridged by any legislative or executive action or order except provided in part III. directive principles of state policy have to be uniform and should be run on a subsidiary basis related to a fundamental right. However, if there is no infringement/violation of rights conferred by part III of the Indian constitution, there can be no objection over, the state acting in accordance with the directive principles of state policy.


Although the right to education has been elevated to the status of a basic right, it is still a parliamentary process that is expected to succeed in the near future for a nation that has seen ten years of policy failure. We note that neither free nor compulsory schooling is ever inexpensive. Making a move through legislative passage represents a significant change for the state-guaranteed education provisions provided to underprivileged groups who have historically seen those laws fall short of defending the interests of the minority class.

Surveys consistently demonstrate that those who have been denied an education are generally a reflection of inequalities in the social, political, and economic fabric, most likely due to caste, class, and gender.

For instance, children from a higher class, small families, and households that rely on non-agricultural professions tend to have greater education.

One of the main obstacles to India’s development and the reason it hasn’t been able to reduce its high level of illiteracy is the disconnect between discourse, debate, and the structural underpinnings of all educational policy efforts. This disconnect, along with India’s poor performance in ensuring equal access to education for all, has been the main cause of this problem.

Moreover, two-thirds of Indians are considered to be poor. Many families are still hesitant to enrol their children in school, despite the government’s efforts to make primary education free. As parents consider going to work and making a living instead of attending school, which is located a great distance from their towns or houses.

There are many more difficulties, but the ones mentioned above are causing the government greater issues as the RTE Act is being developed.

Challenges to the implementation of the RTE Act

  • The issue to share the burden 

This act was made accountable to state and local bodies for its implementation. The state tells that the local bodies are not sufficiently in its financial capacity to cover all the schools bought under universal education. In that case, a centre that holds most of the revenue tax has to support the state. The Anil Bordia Committee was set up by the HRD ministry to harmonize Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and RTE Act. And the committee asked to look into the requirements of funds. Initially estimated that 1,71,000 crore was required to implement the Act for the next five years. The committee argued for central is a higher financial burden and it should be a 50:45 sharing ratio for the current year and 50:50 (2011-12). This seems very unrealistic for the state as the state should have to double their allocations. However, in April 2010 central agree to share the funding in raion 65:35 between centre and state and a ratio of 90:10 in the matter of the north-east state.

  • RTE challenged by private schools

Right to education defines a school as aided by Government funds or by local bodies not aided by Government and school authorities.

this impliedly means private schools also come under this act and mandate for all to hold up 25% seats for economically weaker section children and for reservation merit. Posing this rule, affect the business of private school and violates fundamental right provided under Article 19 1(G). But 19 (6) mandates the above article and says that nothing in sub-clause (g) of the said clause shall affect the course of any operational law in so far as it imposes, or restrict the State from making any law imposing, in the contradiction interests of the general public, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred. RTE was challenged before the Supreme Court as an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of private and minority schools.

On 12 April 2012, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court gives its judgment by a majority of 2-1. Chief Justice SH Kapadia and Justice Swatanter Kumar held that providing such reservations is not illegal and unconstitutional, but observed that the Act will not be applicable to unaided private minority schools and boarding schools. However, Justice KS Radhakrishnan dissented with the view and held that the Act can not apply to both minority and non-minority private schools which do not receive any fund or grant from the government.

Suggestions for making RTE effective:

  1. The scope of the Right to Education act should not be limited to the age of 14 years it should be extended to the secondary level also. The government should make some modifications like introducing diplomas/degrees/courses with specialization in IT, software mobile communication, media, entertainment, telecommunication, automobile, construction or need of the requirement.
  2. CSS ( Common School System) was an important step and go hand in hand for attaining equality decades ago, however now it must be changed into MSS (Model school system) based on the dynamic nature and demands of the society where education should be provided free of cost and on joint venture with private institute patterns.
  3. Parents need to play a ruthful role in making RTE policy to be a success in India and, for this regards government mandate this as a fundamental duty of guardians and parents. Moreover, it can be done only by motivating them through counseling and guidance, and they must be made alarming about the RTE Act through media, pamphlets campaigns, hoardings, rallies, etc. only then we can aware all people about the importance of education and should expect that our future generations will be well educated.
  4. Schemes like mid-day meal, SSA, RMSA accompanied by the world organization like UNICEF are playing an important role in increasing the massive enrollment ratio. By securing beginning and basic education to Indian children. However these international and national agencies should more be focused over weaker sections of the society, economically backward, females and highly populous states of India, these states should be a topmost priority to improve the quality of this act.
  5. Most importantly local authorities and governing bodies should get involved so as to ensure the enrolment of the newborn babies and their record should be sent to a neighborhood school. After that school authorities take care and follow up the child and sent the information for registration and admission to his/her parents without any delays.


Generally, education covers 5% of the GDP of any country to support their social transformation. Education is a key to grow finer or one step ahead who is not educated. Education is a powerful tool to provide an opportunity for a human being to develop to the fullest. for the advancement and promotion of the right to education UN human declaration, many more conventions mention about right to education. UNICEF, UNESCO and AMNESTY international organization made tremendous efforts to promote education right to education worldwide. After adopting the right to education India becomes the 135th country to have this law.

Parliament of India through an 86th constitutional amendment made the right to education as a fundamental right under Article 21-A. and for better formulation of the educational framework also enacted an act that is right to the education act. Which provides free and compulsory education to children age group 6-14. And have some features which mandate state and local bodies to provide a right to education to every child of this country and if not, they all are accountable for that. The rate of literacy is still under construction so to make this rate on increasing then there should be more acts and ordinances of the right to education will be accompanied. Then only India can transform into a developing nation, and will never be set back as the citizens are educated.

Written By:- Rayma Kumari

BA.LLB (Hons) 2nd year student in School Of Law,



  1. 1992 AIR 1858, 1992 SCR (3) 658
  2. 1993 AIR 2178, 1993 SCR (1) 594
  3. 1991 SCALE (1)187
  4. (1997) 10 SCC 549
  6. AIR 1951 SC 226

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