Ten years after the Right to Education (RTE) Act came into being, nearly 40% of adolescent girls in the age group of 15-18 years are not attending school while 30% of girls from the poorest families have never set foot in a classroom, according to status report. According to the report by Right to Education Forum and Centre for Budget Policy Studies with the support of the World Bank and UNICEF, poor compliance of RTE —12.7% across India— has been primarily due to the downward trend in financing school education which has come down from 4.14% in 2014-15 to 3.40% in 2019-20. RTE Act of 2019 mandates compulsory education for children between the age of 6-14 years under Article 21A of the Constitution.
  1. The report also cited that education and empowerment index are directly related to per-child expenditure. Kerala tops the index with a spending of Rs 11,574 per child per year with Bihar at the bottom with a spending of just Rs 2,869. Himachal Pradesh, with a spending of Rs 17,921 per child per year, features second among 17 large states.
  2. The report released on the occasion of International Day of Education and National Girl Child Day on 24 January 2020 stated that while Sustainable Development Goals seek to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, India is home to millions of ‘out-of-school’ children, with girls accounting for a substantial chunk. Raising concerns over the fact that girls are twice less likely as boys to receive at least four years of schooling, 30% of girls from the economically disadvantaged groups have never set foot inside a classroom. The literacy rate of women in India is only at 65%.
  3. According to Ambarish Rai, national convenor, RTE Forum, with over 60 million children lacking education in India, insufficient funding for school education has been the bottleneck in achieving benefits under the RTE Act “which is an important tool for universalisation of elementary education”. 
  4. As per the report, studies have shown strong correlation between public investment in education and child development and empowerment. 
  5. The report said each additional year of schooling raises earning by 8%-10% (with larger increase for women), meaning that education not only helps to grow the economy but also fight poverty.
  6. Among the 17 states cited in the report, 11 states whose EEI has been 0.5 or more are those which spent Rs 6,000 or more per child annually.
  7. Highlighting the fact that states alone cannot deal with the need for higher public expenditure to meet education goals laid out in the National Education Policy, the report raised concern over excessive dependence on education cess.
  8. Cess is an emergency and variable source of government funding meant to aid and cushion expenditure sources from tax revenue/ budgetary support. 
  9. Since 2015, with the decline of budgetary support for education expenditure, cess funded 70% of the total education expenditure. This means that the emergency cess has become a regular way of funding.
Right to Education
  1. The Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 inserted Article 21-A in Constitution of India to provide free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right in such a manner as the State may, by law, determine. 
  2. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which represents the consequential legislation envisaged under Article 21-A, means that every child has a right to full time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a formal school which satisfies certain essential norms and standards.
  3. Article 21-A and the RTE Act came into effect on 1 April 2010. The title of the RTE Act incorporates the words ‘free and compulsory’. 
  4. ‘Free education’ means that no child, other than a child who has been admitted by his or her parents to a school which is not supported by the appropriate Government, shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education.
  5. Compulsory education’ casts an obligation on the appropriate Government and local authorities to provide and ensure admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by all children in the 6-14 age group.