Extension of RTE beyond Class 8 likely to happen soon

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The Central Government seems upbeat whilst reassuring the Delhi High Court that the extension of the Right to Education (RTE) Act up to secondary education is a policy decision which will be decided post the general elections.

The Ministry of Human Resource and Development made the submission in an affidavit filed before the High Court in response to a petition seeking to extend provisions of the RTE Act. The official affidavit submitted in the court on the 21st of May stated that the extension of the RTE Act beyond elementary level is a major policy issue which could only be decided post elections.

This can be attributed to the fact that education falls under the concurrent list of subjects under the constitution of India. This means the Central government and the state governments shall have concurrent responsibility for providing funds for carrying out the provisions of the RTE act. Hence there is ample emphasis on the involvement of all states and Union Territories in the implementation decision. For instance, the implementation of the RTE Act previously had taken seven years after making an amendment to the Constitution.

The court was hearing a plea filed by the NGO Social Jurist demanding an amendment to the RTE Act, 2009. The petition highlighted that EWS (Economically Weaker Section) category students and students belonging to other disadvantaged groups face difficulties after they clear Class 8 as RTE does not give free education up to Class 12. They also happened to allege that post the completion of class VIII, private schools either force students to leave or make them pay a higher fee.

In the meantime, though, the Centre has requested the Delhi government to consider approaching private unaided schools, where children under the RTE Act have been admitted and successfully passed out of class VIII, to be continued in the same schools, beyond the elementary level.

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