The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act (RTE) is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted on 4th August 2009, which describes the modalities of the importance of free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 in India under Article 21A of the Constitution.

This Act is based on the 86th amendment in the Constitution through which Article 21 (A) was inserted after Article 21 of the Constitution. Article 21 (A) states that “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age group of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine”.

India became one of the 135 countries to make education a fundamental right of every child when the Act came into force on 1st April 2010.

A rough draft was prepared in 2005. It received much opposition due to its mandatory provision to provide 25% reservation for disadvantaged children in private schools.

The bill was approved by the cabinet on 2 July 2009. It was passed by Rajya Sabha on 20th July 2009 and Lok Sabha on 4th August 2009. It received Presidential approval and made into a law on 26th August 2009 as The Children’s Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act. The law came into effect in the whole of India except the state of J&K from 1st April 2010. On 7th May 2014, the SC of India ruled that Right to Education Act is not applicable to minority institutions.

The Act requires all private schools to reserve 25% of seats to children. The Act also provides that no child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until the completion of elementary education.

The Delhi High Court has already given a verdict, against St Xavier’s School, Delhi, which had to take back all the children they had declared failed and expelled from school.

There is also a provision for special training of school drop-outs to bring them up to par with students of the same age. The Act also separates fraudulent schools and donations and concessions have been rolled back.

It clarifies that ‘compulsory education’ means an obligation of the appropriate government to provide free elementary education and ensure compulsory admission, attendance and completion of elementary education to every child in the 6 to 14 age group. (Section 8)

This act also clarifies that ‘free education’ means that no child is liable to pay any fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education. (Section 3 (2))

It also provides for the appointment of appropriately trained teachers i.e. teachers with requisite entry and academic qualifications.

It prohibits:

  1. physical punishment and mental harassment
  2. screening procedures for admission of children
  3. capitation fee
  4. private tuition by teachers and
  5. running of schools without recognition.

Right to Education Act has seven Chapters and 38 sections.

Proof of age document would be required at the time of admission to determine which class she/he is to be admitted, since age-appropriate education is the provision of the RTE. Birth certificate or such other document issued by a statutory body may be issued for proof of age. However, if no such documents are available with the parent, the child will still be admitted in the school. In such situations, the age of the child as stated by the parents will be considered to determine the age appropriate class for the child.

This Act has met with a lot of criticism such as the draft was hastily prepared. Children under the age of 6 years are excluded. It seems to have left out orphans.


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