Home News Updates RTE Forum organizes national seminar on RTE Act anniversary to deliberate on 15 years of the law

RTE Forum organizes national seminar on RTE Act anniversary to deliberate on 15 years of the law

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The landmark Right to Education Act, 2009 clocked 15 years on April 1, its anniversary. Hailed and celebrated as one of the biggest advancements of the state to equip its children with universal and quality school education, the implementation of this law is moving at a snail’s pace and today at best 25% schools in the country are complaint with its provisions.

In this backdrop, on April 1, 2024, a National Summit was organized by the RTE Cell at the Council for Social Development (CSD), New Delhi, in collaboration with the RTE Forum,  which served as a platform for dialogue, collaboration, and reflection. Speakers which included academicians, field workers, NGOs, researchers and state conveners of RTE Forum, deliberated over the state of affairs of the implementation process and the challenges that have surfaced over the past 15 years. Among those who spoke at the day-long event included Prof R Govinda, former NUEPA VC and a distinguished professor at Council for Social Development (SDC), New Delhi, Colin Gonsalves, senior advocate Supreme Court, Muchkund Dubey, President CDC, Manish priyam, Professor at NUEPA,  Praveen Jha, economist and professor at JNU, Jandyala BG Tilak, former VC NUEPA, VP Niranjanaradhya, National Convener, RTE cell CDC, Noor Mohammad, state convener, RTE Forum Rajasthan, among others.

Muchkund Dubey, President of CSD, highlighted persisting challenges. Children outside schools, who were meant to be included within three years of implementation of RTE, still remain excluded. Critiquing the mass closure of schools and the privatization of school education – a recurrent theme – Prof. Dubey emphasized that the dream of a viksit Bharat cannot be realized without a shiksit Bharat. Reflecting on the status of implementation of the RTE act in the past 14 years, the National Co-ordinator of the RTE Cell at CSD, VP Niranjanaradhya, called the mass closure of government schools a mockery of the RTE Act. While Prof. R. Govinda saw the state’s role towards implementation of the RTE Act, as ‘a reluctant embrace’. The decision to adopt a hierarchical system of schooling, Prof. Govinda highlighted, was against the rights framework, and restructuring the entire school system offered the way out, in order to create a more equitable one.

Amidst challenges, stories of success and inspiration were shared at the Summit. Noor Mohammad, State Convener, RTE Forum, Rajasthan, for instance, recounted his work in that region, empowering first-generation female students to pursue higher education and career aspirations, challenging societal norms surrounding gender and education.

However, discussions also addressed systemic issues such as neoliberal policies impacting education, the growing marketization of schooling, and the shifting responsibility of education from the state to parents. Venkatanarayanan S, Associate Professor at a university in Bangalore, underscored the detrimental effects of decreased funding on public education and the perpetuation of a narrative that devalues public schooling.

The Summit concluded with a call for renewed commitment to strengthening the implementation of the RTE Act, ensuring the fundamental right to education for every child in India. By fostering dialogue, sharing experiences, and identifying actionable strategies, the Summit aimed to strengthen the process of implementation of the RTE Act, thereby upholding the fundamental right to education for every child in the country.

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