Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 mandates free and compulsory education for children aged 6-14 years under Article 21-A of Indian Constitution. However, the act is excessively input-focused rather than outcome-oriented.
It remained inadequate in promoting incentive-based system and awareness for children’s education, due to:
- Lack of nutritious food: Poor-quality mid-day meal disincentivises students to attend school.
- Ineffective evaluation: Lack of awareness among teachers about Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation systems failed to assess the holistic development of children.
- Inadequate emphasis on learning outcomes: Poor learning outcomes and the absence of vocational education failed to make children realise the real-life benefits of education. This often leads to drop-out from school after 14 years of age.
- Detention policy: Amendment to RTE, 2019 does away with the no-detention policy, the removal of which disincentivises children of marginalised sections to continue education.
- Non-inclusive: Non-inclusion of unaided minority institutions and children-with-special-needs (CWSN) provides no incentive to them for education.
- Lack of bridge courses: As age-appropriate bridge courses promised in RTE were not implemented on ground, it deters children who could not start education early.
- Failure to meet standards relating to infrastructure like pupil-teacher ratio, safe-drinking water and washrooms discourage children, especially adolescent girls, from continuing schooling.
- Inclusion of Early Child Care and education under the RTE Act.
- Awareness building and adequate training to improve the evaluation system.
- Provision of education in the mother tongue.
- Introduce choice-based curriculum and vocational training in school education.
- Compliance with infrastructure norms and focus on student attendance.
- Media campaigns and community awareness programmes for increasing awareness and preventing drop-out rates.
Proper implementation of RTE, improving teaching quality and accountability would help to improve quality and innovation in teaching and improve learning outcomes.