Move to bring secondary level under RTE

The Centre is considering the extension of the Right to Education Act to cover secondary education also. The law currently provides for free and compulsory elementary education to all children between the age of 6 and 14.

The Human Resource Development is keen on expanding the RTE Act to bring secondary education under its ambit keeping in view the high rate of school dropouts across the country. “More than 60 per cent of children admitted to primary schools never reach Class XII,” sources in the ministry said.

The ministry is also concerned about the fate of those children being enrolled at primary and upper primary levels under the RTE Act.

During 2009-10, over 19 crore children were enrolled in schools at primary and upper primary levels across the country under the RTE Act. “The Act provides for free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of 6 and 14 only at elementary level. What will happen to them after they pass class VIII? Something has to be done,” sources said.

A proposal to expand the ambit of RTE Act is being drafted. However, the ministry is yet to decide whether the  Act should be expanded to cover secondary education till Class XII or coverage till Class X would serve the intended purpose.

“There are arguments that after children complete Class X level, they can decide if they want to go to university or do some vocational training,” sources said.

The issue of expanding the RTE Act will be taken up in the meeting of the ministry’s central advisory board of education (CABE) next month.

“Issues like admission and examination have to be looked into carefully before proposing the expansion of the RTE Act to secondary level. All these things will be discussed in CABE meeting,” sources said.

The expansion proposal has come up even as the provisions of the Act are yet to be fully implemented by many states. While five union territories have adopted the central rules to implement the Act, only 10 states have so far notified the RTE rules and others are under process of notifying the law, according to ministry sources.

The RTE was enacted on August 27, 2009 and came into force on April 1, 2010. States are required to implement it within three years of its notification.

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