Children in the age group of 6-14 years are to receive compulsory education with the notification of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, becoming a fundamental right, in April. While addressing the nation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh mentioned that the government is committed to provide all children education to strengthen the future of the nation further. While the notification is an important milestone, the government acknowledged that the real challenge lay in the effective implementation of the Act. The address also comprised of Shri Singh referring to the need for all stakeholders to work together to realize the Right to Education (RTE). The requirement of large funds and inadequate provisioning have been major reasons for the delay in the notification. Welcoming the notification, UNICEF representative in India Karin Hulshof mentioned that the effort will ensure quality education with equity for children, with opening doors for achieving great heights and brighter future.
While these are the initial steps, the government will need to ensure that allocations are made. The Thirteenth Finance Commission has provided for INR 25,000 crore to the states over five years for the implementation of RTE. This over and above allocations for centrally-sponsored schemes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Mid-Day Meal, teacher education. For the current year, the central allocation is to the tune of INR 15,000 crore, and the centre will bear 55% of the burden. The ministry is keen that the Centre's burden is increased to 65% to ensure that states do not fall behind on implementation due to fund crunch. Work on RTE was started by the NDA government soon after Parliament passed the constitutional amendment in December 2002. The first delay came when the NDA was voted out of power in May 2004. Work on the RTE was then taken up by the Kapil Sibal (now Minster HRD, India) committee of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE).
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