The Supreme Court in a ruling in 1993 said that children had a fundamental right to free education and thus in the year 2003 the “Right to Education was incorporated in the Constitution under the Constitution (83rd Amendment), 2000”.
Despite this, the country couldn’t provide free and compulsory education of children up to fourteen years of age within ten years of the bill coming into effect under Article 45 of the Constitution.
Several other schemes too had been launched to ensure the right to education in the country. The National Policy of Education in the year 1986 declared that the whole nation must commit itself to drive away the menaces of illiteracy especially among the young population. The National Literacy Mission in 1988 made literacy a community endeavor. It aimed at attaining a literacy rate of 41 per cent by 2035. The 1992 education policy guaranteed free and compulsory education to all children up to 14 years of age before the advent of the 21st century, a policy which seems to biting the dust today as it has not been able to prevent dropouts among school children and illiteracy prevails.
The Sarva Siksha Abhiyan was launched in 2001 to ensure that all children in the 6–14-years of age-group attend school and complete eight years of schooling by 2010. An important component of the scheme is the Education Guarantee Scheme and Alternative and Innovative Education, meant primarily for children in areas with no formal school within a one kilometer radius.
Problems with Government Schemes
The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan mainly incorporates decentralization for planning and management of elementary education because of which there is an absence of community participation and thus most of the policies fail to generate a mass consensus. Also the mandates of institutions like Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) and National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) clash with each other thus there is no clarity on the objectives of all these bodies with respect to the spread of education. Also, there corruption has become an incorrigible element with respect to the allocation of funds by the government to education. Lesser money than actual budget allocation for education is utilized for the implementation of the schemes.
A major aspect that is slowly ruining the state of education is the commercialization of education both at the elementary and at the higher education levels. Private schools charge enormous fees which makes it difficult for the poor parents to send their children to the schools. The mid-may meal scheme was started with the aim to provide nutritious diet to the children in order to prepare them better for their studies. Instead, the future of the children covered under this scheme seems to be clouded with flies and lizards in the food.
A series of RTIs filed by journalist Siddheshwar Shukla has revealed that during the past three years, the majority of mid-day meals being served to the 11.5 lakh children in Delhi have failed tests conducted by the government.
Not only the government, but every literate person needs to accept the eradication of illiteracy as a personal goal. Each and every contribution by a literate person can make a contribution to eradicate the menace. One of the initiatives is “Teach India”, whose aim is to provide a platform to educated Indians to provide assistance in basic education to the unprivileged children.
As in the words of Barack Obama, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”