The Right To Education

Education is the key to progress. It empowers the individual. It enables a nation.

It is the belief of our government that if we nurture our children and young people with the right education, India’s future as a strong and prosperous country is secure.

These words, part of the Indian Prime Minister’s address to the nation today, put into effect the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.

The Act will provide for free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in a neighbourhood school till completion of elementary education. No child shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing the elementary education. This means no school fees or indirect costs such as uniforms or textbooks need to be borne by the child. The student teacher ratio is pegged at 30 to 1.

School management committees consisting of local administration, parents/guardians and teachers will be responsible (with 50% women and disadvantaged parents reserved participation) for monitoring the utilization of government funds and the operations of the school.

Sukanta Chaudhuri makes some interesting comments in a Telegraph article. And the Times Of India, a leading newspaper, cites the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2010 and compares (under the not so subtle caption – “how others secured their future“) the duration of compulsory education implemented by countries worldwide.

According to the news item, the total requirement for implementation works out to a whopping USD 38 billion. India’s GDP (@market prices, estimated value) for 2009-10 stands at USD 1.4 trillion with a 7.2% rate of growth. More than a million new teachers need to be hired and trained while about 0.75 mn existing teachers need to get certified.

Basically, Indian education has a large problem. The largeness of the problem is shared by other areas such as healthcare in terms of sheer numbers and the infrastructure to manage these large numbers. But India has also an extremely large manpower advantage in the first half of this century, which if utilized well, can really boost its place in the global scenario.

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