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RIGHT TO EDUCATION IN INDIA – AN ANALYSIS

INTRODUCTION

According to Aristotle, “Education is the process of training a man to fulfil his aim by exercising all the faculties to the fullest extent as a member of the society“. Everyone is aware of the importance of education as it is a basic human right. The Constitution framers were aware of the importance of education. That’s why, under article 45[1] of the Constitution, they imposed a duty on the state to provide free and compulsory education to children till the age of 14 years. Later on, its necessity as a fundamental right was felt by the country, by the 86th constitutional amendment in  2002, The Right to Education was made a fundamental right under Article 21 A[2]. After the 86th Amendment in 2002, the language of Article 45 was changed. Now it is “State shall provide early childhood care and elementary education to children below the age of 6 years. [3]Under Article 51(A) a fundamental duty is imposed on the parents, and guardians to provide compulsory education to children between 6-14 years of age group[4].

 To make the amendment effective, Parliament enacted The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, popularly known as the Right to Education Act (RTE). On April 1st 2010 this act came into effect. The enactment provided the guidelines to develop the infrastructure of educational institutes, It mandates that private schools (unaided) and non-minority educational Institutes have to reserve 25% of their seats for socially, educationally, and economically backward sections of society. It also prohibited all forms of physical punishment.

Because of these enactments and the government’s constant efforts, the education system in India was becoming strong and we were close to competing with the education systems of the developed countries. “The literacy rate of India increased from 64.83% (according to the 2001 census) to 74.04(according to the 2011 census”. Then the pandemic arrived. Every country faced a lot during the pandemic, including developed countries. India, like so many other countries that had been hit by the dreaded coronavirus, was also subjected to the brutal treatment that the COVID-19 outbreak had meted out to its inhabitants. With a total of 2,14,85,285 cases and 2,34,071 deaths[5] registered in the country. Every sector, whether it be tourism or medical, construction faced a lot at that time. The vital areas of life, such as education, were taken a backseat. Health was the only priority right to livelihood, right to live with dignity, and right to education weres put in the backseat.

Effect on India’s Education System

India is the second-largest populous country after China and is developing so it was not easy to control the spread of the Coronavirus. If a country has a small population it is easy to maintain its population and fulfil the needs of the people, but it is very difficult for a populous country to feed and provide all the facilities in such a difficult situation when it was required to keep them isolated in their homes and a large amount of money is required care for medical care. The pandemic in the year 2020 became an obstacle to the country’s growth.  Every sector felt a severe setback including the hospitality sector, tourism sector, automobile industry, real estate sector, and education was not untouched by the impact of the pandemic. These other sectors are reviving by the time but the loss which students have suffered can not be revived. The right to get an education was adversely affected because schools, colleges and universities were closed temporarily due to the surge of the Coronavirus to avoid contact. The Online teaching method was adopted as a solution to provide education, but as far as education was concerned, India was new to the technology and it was in its revolutionary stage, so to put the entire system on online mode was difficult at the hand, teachers who were accustomed to the traditional method of teaching and didn’t have the technical knowledge that much. Many students were not able to access online education as well because they couldn’t afford laptops, computers and Wi-Fi, internet and electricity facilities, so they faced the difficulty of adopting the new normal. According to a Ministry of Rural Development survey conducted in 2017-18, just 47% of Indian families have access to more than 12 hours of power each day, and more than 36% of Indian schools are without electricity[6]. The shut down of 1.5 million schools due to COVID-19 affected 247 million students studying in elementary and secondary schools[7].

Apart from online education, examinations at some universities and schools were either cancelled and students were promoted or exams were postponed. The cancellation of exams and the decision of promotion might have saved there one year, but it created a study gap and disturbed the habit of learning of the students. On the other hand, the postponement of exams resulted in a delay in the completion of their degree and promotion to the next classes. Furthermore, there was uncertainty about the conduction of exams which created anxiety in the students.

Even when its spread was controlled, many of the students had to leave their schooling and colleges in between because of their financial situations. They were not able to continue their studies or their conditions led them to work to earn. Even today, in many the backward areas, children go to schools to get mid-day meals, and because of the temporary closure of the schools, they were not getting their food for the day, so they left the schools. Not only for the students but also on the educators,  COVID-19 had a negative economic impact to help their families, and educators had to seek alternative employment.

Although the Coronavirus has a lot of negative effects on the Right to Education, there are some positive effects of the Coronavirus on the learning system of the country. “The Ministry of Education released a variety of free digital e-learning sites to encourage ongoing learning while schools are closed such as DIKSHA, e-PATHSHALA, SWAYAM, SWAYAM PRABHA[8]. India has achieved so much advancement in technology. Now the knowledge of the technology of students and teachers is enhanced. Many creative and professional skill development courses are available online mode, so by accessing them, students can develop valuable skills at home. Online education has enhanced digital literacy. During the epidemic, students were able to manage their time more efficiently through online learning.

“All the stakeholders in the education sector, including the administration, instructors, students, parents, and businesses that produce the software for creative knowledge transfer, worked together in ways that are impossible to imagine.” The cost of travel to educational institutes and making purchases of learning resources has decreased, which could lead to savings during these difficult economic times.

Conclusion

The Indian education system has been greatly impacted by COVID-19. The country’s education statistics have taken a hit recently, and given the circumstances as a whole, it is evident that this cannot be overlooked. A nation that was already working to enhance its education system has now run into a predicament that has thrown its progress off course. But despite the numerous difficulties it has brought about, numerous opportunities have also arisen. To address the current COVID-19 dilemma, the Indian government and several educational stakeholders have looked into the possibilities of open and distance learning (ODL). The Ministry of Education released a variety of free digital e-learning sites to encourage ongoing learning while schools are closed. Because India is not technologically advanced, the government is constantly working to ensure that educational institutions are prepared to deal with situations such as COVID-19. India is making advancements in terms of technology by the time.

Author(s) Name: Afreen Khan (University Five year Law college, Rajasthan University Jaipur)

References:

[1] The Indian Constitution, 1950, Article 45.

[2] The Indian Constitution, 1950, Art. 21 A

[3] The Indian Constitution, 1950, Art. 45.6

[4] The Indian Constitution, 1950, Art. 51 A

[5] Covid: India sees the world’s highest daily cases amid oxygen shortage, BBC NEWS, 22 April 2021https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-56826645> accessed on 17 June 2022.

[6] Shushma  Modi, Ronika postaria, ‘ How COVID-19 deepens the digital education divide in India’ (Global Development Commons, October 6th, 2020)<https://gdc.unicef.org/resource/how-covid-19-deepens-digital-education-divide-india >accessed June 18, 2022.

[7] COVID-19-induced school closures affected 25 crore Indian children: UNICEF (THE HINDI, March 3, 2021)<https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/closure-of-15-million-schools-due-to-covid-19-impacted-247-million-children-in-india-unicef-study/article33981143.ece >June 18, 2022.

[8] Neeta Samantaray, ‘Free e-Learning platforms developed by the Government of India'( TIMES NOW NEWS. COM, May 18, 2021) <https://www.timesnownews.com/education/article/free-e-learning-platforms-developed-by-the-government-of-india/758567 > accessed June 23, 2022.