Free and compulsory education for all children was listed as an individual's rights very recently. It is hoped that by passing this law not only will the education system of the country become better but also the pace at which infrastructure across the country is developing. The government of India passed this act in the year 2009.
Details of the RTE Act & Government steps prior to that:
This Act was brought into being by the eighty sixth amendment of the Constitution of India in 2002. This law mandates that all children between the age of 6 and 14 have a right to free elementary education. The onus of providing the free education falls on the government or the local body (which ever has jurisdiction). The law further ensures that the children do not have to pay any fees for the education they receive.
Before taking up free and compulsory education for children in India and turning it into a law, the government did try various other schemes like the mid day meal scheme and the financial assistance scheme. The mid day meal scheme of the government included feeding children the afternoon meal for free.
The main purpose of this meal was to increase the attendance level at schools by providing the meal as an incentive. This scheme of the government worked like magic and the attendance levels did rise. But one problem that came out of this was that the food quality was really poor in some cases. In most areas the food material was supplied by the ration stores and the food was cooked at the school premises.
The food that was often supplied by ration stores was below quality which resulted in many children falling ill. This fire caught wind when the national media highlighted the issue which resulted in attendance levels dropping. When it came to the financial assistance scheme it was doomed from its very onset. The scheme included children being given money each time they came to school.
This scheme was run mainly in the urban and semi urban areas. In these areas the children who live in the slums have to work during the day time to make a living which does not allow them to come to school. The government thought that by providing financial assistance the children would not need to work and would attend school. What happened in reality was that the children did come to school to collect the money and left soon after.
Future for the students:
With the passing of this the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009 the local bodies are now legally bound to find new and innovative ways to provide children with elementary education. Very often children that do end up in schools and complete their elementary education do not find jobs.
The government is currently developing some vocational institutes to provide vocational training to these youth and make them job worthy. The government has also started recruitment drives for lower level staff (those that are meant specifically for people with basic education).