Education was not given importance in India during earlier times. Also, during the British rule, compulsory education laws were formed but it did not amount to much progress. During post-independence, the constitution of India came to force on 26th January 1950. The constitution had number of provisions for education, directly and indirectly but there was no fundamental right for education in Part III of the constitution. Article 45 of the constitution reads as “the State shall endeavour to provide within a period of 10 years from the commencement of the Constitution, free and compulsory education to all children until they complete the age of 14 years”. But no action was taken to provide compulsory primary education. Then after in 1968, government attested the National Policy on Education, after which National Policy on Education was attested in year 1985 which carried more importance for compulsory primary education. It has to be realized that education is a ladder for poor to climb to riches. Education not only helps children to gain knowledge and overcome illiteracy, but it opens up the opportunity in future and it helps to develop self-confidence.
In year 1990, recommendation was made to include the right to education as a fundamental right in our constitution after which National Policy on Education was formulated in 1992. In the same year India signed the International Convention on Rights of Child (CRC). Under CRC, the member states are obligated to preserve and protect the child’s cultural identity, as an essential element for his or her development. India after signing the convention initiated the process of drafting legislations for education. In the landmark case of Mohini Jain v. State of Karnataka (1992 AIR 1858), Supreme Court recognized the right to education as the fundamental right under the Part III of the constitution and every person has the right to education without any discrimination. Education also is necessary to preserve the minority rights by preserving the minority language. In the words of Nelson Mandela, “Education is a great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine that a child of a farm worker can become a president of a great nation. It is what we make out what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.” (Into that haven of freedom – Nima Menon, Indian Link)
After the observation of the Supreme Court, obligations of convention and needs of society, the constitution of India was amended in 2002 where Right to education was recognized as a fundamental right where the follow up legislation was passed in year 2009 called ‘The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009’, which came in force in April 2010. Further, subordinate legislations and rules were drafted to ensure better implementation of Right to Education in India. The Government of India has formed number of essential programmes and projects for compulsory education which later on acquired the legal support from the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. Programmes like Jhumbish, Siksha Karmi Project, Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan were designed by Indian government to ensure education throughout the country.
Shrut Brahmbhatt, Assistant Professor, Unitedworld School of Law (UWSL)
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