The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 has communicated and executed free and compulsory education to the children between 6 to 14 years of age but the question before the government and concern body is about the actual performance of the act on the ground. No doubt the act has communicated the educational right and hope for literate future generation in the communities especially among underprivileged section of the society however the attainment of the free and compulsory education to all the children between 6 to 14 years of age are still not only unsettled ambition but also opened the gateway to deny the educational rights of the children. An important question here is how a granted right can open gateway to deny the educational right? Herbert Kaufman has rightly said about the red tape that “when the people rail against red tape, they mean that they are subjected to too many constraints, that many of the constraints seem pointless, and that agency seem to take forever to act.” This act has also created many constraints to restrict the children from accessing the education. One among them is age restriction; means the free and compulsory education is restricted only between 6 to 14 years of age and also age wise class allotment. On former theme many of the scholars has written the denial of free education before 6 years of age as well as after 14 years of age but restricted number of activist and scholars has raised the issue of the age wise class allocation or in red tape word age appropriate class. This provision has raised the question of quality education and created a loop hole to deny the educational right by using tactics the age factor. The concern person for the admission in primary school asks to the parent to go for admission in upper primary school even if children want to take admission in primary school.
A live example has happened few days back when I went to enroll one drop out child in Noornagar primary school where teacher has denied admission because of his age, which is 14 years old. The school teacher has not only denied the admission on the ground of unjustified logic of over age and half cooked rule of right to education act but one teacher has said “there is no way to get admission in any school and only one way to do tenth is through getting admission in open school”. The irrational statement has not ended here; he wrenched the dream of the mother by putting figure of 6000 rupees to get admission in open school in such a cash crunch situation. The parents belong to Noornagar pahadi slum community who has migrated here form Uttar Pradesh. Similar kind of incident has happened before 4 month ago with the same child when I went with his mother to enroll the child in Sarvoday Baal Vidyalay, Noornagar but they denied admission on the ground of date of admission has over. When we met principle of the school, he used disrespectful words and asked to leave the room. I emailed a complaint letter regarding the incident to the Deputy Director of Education of south Delhi but no action has been taken. I have been working with ABC… Campaign since 2012 and we enrolled around 30 children from the slum community in and around Jamia Millia Islmia, New Delhi. Amid of these all mainstreaming activities many times we faced problem in the process of admission and children are denied from the admission on red tape ground whereas some children has successfully enrolled.
Recently one more heart wrenching issue has came into our notice that a child has been denied admission by many schools of the Trilokpuri area only because she has gone through an open heart surgery and no school is taking risk to take admission though she use to come to Learning Centre of ABC Campaign and Foundation for Equal Citizenship, a collaborative centre. However we are trying to enroll her in nearby school as her parent has again expanded their courage to provide her education.
These all incident is high lighting the hidden lope hole of Right of the Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009. The concern body and staff are using age factor as a tool to avoid the burden of the admission of the children, in another word this awarded right is denying the right of many children by using the rule of the act. This doesn’t mean that rights should not be given but the matter is to reduce the denial of the right through critical analysis and amendments. Anil Sadgopal, an educationist has rightly said “it is a fraud on our children. It gives neither free education nor compulsory education. In fact, it only legitimizes the present multi-layered, inferior quality school education system where discrimination shall continue to prevail.”