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PUBLIC POLICY PROCESSES PROJECT ON:

RIGHT TO EDUCATION ACT, 2009: A CRITICAL APPRAISAL


SUBMITTED TO:

Dr. Avinash Samal

(Faculty, Public Policy Process)

SUBMITTED BY:

Pankaj Sharma

Roll no. 100

SECTION A

SEMESTER IV, B.A. LLB(HONS.)

SUBMITTED ON:

February 15, 2017

HIDAYATULLAH NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY

Uparwara Post, Abhanpur, New Raipur – 493661 (C.G.)

i
DECLARATION

I hereby declare that the project work titled “Right To Education Act, 2009: A Critical
Appraisal”, submitted to Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur, is a record of an
original work done by me under the guidance of Dr. Avinash Samal, Assistant Professor,
Hidayatullah National Law University. I further declare that the work reported in this project has
not been submitted and will not be submitted, either in part, or full, for the award of any other
degree in the institute.

Name: Pankaj Sharma


Semester- VI
Section- A
Roll number- 100

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I express my deepest regard and gratitude to my teacher, Dr. Avinash Samal for not only
guiding me through the subject but also for constantly encouraging me to be a more courageous
human being and a more responsible citizen. His consistent supervision, constant inspiration and
invaluable guidance have also been of immense help in understanding and carrying out this
project report.
I would also like to thank my family and friends without whose support and encouragement, this
project would not have been a reality.
I take this opportunity to also thank the University for providing extensive database resources in
the Library and through Internet.

Name: Pankaj Sharma


Semester- VI
Section- A
Roll number- 100

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. DECLARATION…………..………………………………………….....ii
2. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS………………………………………………...iii
3. CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION………………………………………...….1
1.1 RIGHT TO EDUCATION: CONTEXTUAL OUTLINE……....1
1.2 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY…………………………...2
1.3 SCOPE OF THE STUDY…………………………………2
1.4 METHODOLOGY OF THE STUDY……………………….3
1.5 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY………………………..3

CHAPTER 2: THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION ACT, 2009: ANALYSIS………...4


CHAPTER 3: INITIATIVES AT DIFFERENT STAGES OF EDUCATION……….6
CHAPTER 4: IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ACT……………………………9
CHAPTER 5: ANALYSIS AND SUGGESTIONS…………………………….10

4. CONCLUSION………………………………………………………….13
5. REFERENCES.………………………………………………….............14

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1. INTRODUCTION
1.1 RIGHT TO EDUCATION IN INDIA: A CONTEXTUAL OUTLINE

Education plays very important role for the overall growth of the child. Government of India has
adopted education as the effective tool for the growth of children. Education therefore, is an
integral component for moral, physical, psychological growth and spiritual enrichment.
Education brings positive outlook and develop creative personality for democratic life.

The demand for free and compulsory education in India was voiced early on during the freedom
struggle; for instance, in the year 1882, Jyotibarao Phule from Bombay Presidency, in his
evidence before the Indian Education Commission headed by Sir William Hunter, demanded that
state sponsored free and compulsory education be made available to all children until the age of
12 years. Later in 1911, Gopal Krishna Gokhale moved a private bill to demand free and
compulsory education in the Imperial Legislative Assembly, which was, however, thrown out.

In 2002, the Eighty-Sixth Amendment Act was passed and Article 21A which obligated the State
to provide free and compulsory education to all children in the age group of 6 to 14 years was
introduced in the Chapter on Fundamental Rights. The Right of Children to Free and
Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act) was enacted to give effect to this fundamental right.
This Act came into effect on the 1st of April, 2010.

Any cost that prevents a child from accessing school will be borne by the State which shall have
the responsibility of enrolling the child as well as ensuring attendance and completion of 8 years
of schooling. No child shall be denied admission for want of documents; no child shall be turned
away if the admission cycle in the school is over and no child shall be asked to take an admission
test. Children with disabilities will also be educated in the main stream schools. The Prime
Minister Shri Manmohan Singh has emphasized that it is important for the country that if we
nurture our children and young people with the right education, India’s future as a strong and
prosperous country is secure.

However, there are serious flaws in the legislation. It is worth discussing a couple of them here.
Firstly, the legislation invokes the framework of truancy model of ‘free and compulsory
education’ inherited by the colonial rulers in the place of ‘Rights based’ approach as a basic

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entitlement in the age of the human rights era. This very framework of the statute negates the
approach as determined by the Constitution makers to include all children from birth to fourteen
years. It is important to note that the scope and rights of children including the basic education
have been further extended by United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to
include children up to the age of 18 years.1

Secondly, the Education Act, 2009 in a very subtle way introduced the voucher system in school
education by making a provision for 25 percent reservation in the private schools and also
making provisions for reimbursement of child’s education cost to private institutions. This was
tantamount to state sponsored privatization of Education. The neo-liberal market forces are
creating an illusion among the people that only private schools can provide good infrastructure
and quality education. However, in many ways, all Central Schools run by the Central
Government are better than the private schools both in terms of infrastructure and quality of
education. Therefore, the principle of equal opportunity to every child to have access to good
quality of education cannot be achieved through 25 percent reservation because it has no
rationale. It may raise a serious question of why it should be 25 percent and not 50 or 75 per cent
reservation. Given the situation, the real solution to providing equal opportunity lies in the
simple fact that all schools of the country should be upgraded to Central school norms as the first
step to bring equality in access to education.2

The study as a whole reflects an area of darkness in the Indian democracy in which children, who
constitute a large segment of our population, remain deprived of their fundamental rights. It is
regrettable that even after 66 years of independence, many citizens are not able to exercise the
Rights that were envisioned by the founding fathers of our Constitution. The Public Education
system continues to be woefully neglected, possibly amid the other economic ambitions.

1
DR NIRANJANARADHYA V P & ABHINAV JHA, RIGHT OF CHILDREN TO FREE AND COMPULSORY EDUCATION ACT –
MILES TO GO… A CASE STUDY OF A GRAM PANCHAYAT (1st ed., 2013)
2
Ibid.

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1.2 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

∑ To understand the provisions of the Right to Education Act, 2009


∑ To evaluate the usefulness of the Act
∑ To evaluate whether the Act has been implemented successfully
∑ To suggest policy alternatives for better implementation

1.3 SCOPE OF THE STUDY

The study is limited to the study of implementation of the Right to Education Act in India
broadly without focusing on any specific area.

1.4 METHODOLOGY OF STUDY

The secondary data available regarding the implementation of the Right to Education Act, 2009
have been discussed and analysed. The study has been carried out using the descriptive analytical
method. A doctrinal method for research has been adopted. Both primary and secondary sources
of data have been used. The research consisted books, articles, and websites.

1.5 ORGANISATION OF THE STUDY

The study has been organised into five chapters. The first chapter provides an outline of the
project report and introduces the topic followed by objectives and methodology. The second
chapter elaborates and analyses the provisions of the Right to Education Act, 2009. The third
chapter provides an insight into the various initiatives that are a part of the various stages of
Education. The fourth chapter briefly deals with the implementation challenges faced by the Act
in India. The fifth and final chapter makes recommendations and suggestions based on the
findings of this research.

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2. THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION ACT 2009: ANALYSIS
“Education is the chief defense of our nation”

Education is a fundamental right of every human being. It lays the foundation for the
development of society. The Indian Parliament enacted the Right to Education Act in 2009, to
provide free and compulsory education to all children in the age group of six to fourteen years.
The Act notifies that it is a legally enforceable duty of the Centre and the States to provide free
and compulsory education. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights
(NCPCR)- has been designated as the agency to monitor provisions of the Act.

Main provisions of the Act:

∑ Every child between the ages of six to fourteen years shall have the right to free and
compulsory education in a neighbourhood school, till completion of elementary
education.

∑ No child shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent
him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education.

∑ Where a child above six years of age has not been admitted to any school or though
admitted, could not complete his or her elementary education, then, he or she shall be
admitted in a class appropriate to his or her age.

∑ The appropriate government and local authority shall establish a school, if it is not
established, within the given area in a period of three years from the commencement of
this Act.

∑ The Central and the State Governments shall have concurrent responsibility for providing
funds for carrying out the provisions of this Act.

As per the provision of the Act, the Central Government has authorised the National Council of
Educational Research & Training (NCERT)- as the academic authority to lay down the
curriculum and evaluation procedure for elementary education and develop a framework of
national curriculum.

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Though most children have access to purpose built school buildings it is clear that more
construction is needed and the condition of much of the existing stock is unsatisfactory. Too
many schools in the sample have insufficient furniture and equipment, lack appropriate
sanitation and clean water, and do not provide a learning environment conducive to high levels
of achievement. Testing confirms that many children remain a long way from achieving
appropriate standards of achievement in literacy and numeracy. Though learning materials are
generally available their patterns of use are very varied. So also is the time spent on learning and
teaching with substantial absenteeism leading to the loss of 25% or more of time on task for
some children. Distributional equity remains a critical issue with, for example, pupil teacher
ratios varying from over 130:1 to below 10:1 across the schools. Many of the schools are small
with one or two teachers, five grades and less than five classrooms. There has indeed been
considerable progress in expanding access to education, but that this has neither succeeded in
realising the dream of universal participation and completion of basic education to age 14 years
now enshrined in the Right to Education Act, nor has it succeeded in reducing large disparities
between and within clusters and administrative blocks. In many parts of India the dream has been
realised, but that in too many locations, especially in the Northern States, the dream remains an
aspiration not a reality.

In the era of globalisation, provision of quality education is increasingly gaining importance


across the world. Like elsewhere, it has already been realised in India that equal attention is
needed simultaneously on access, equity and quality to achieve the goal of universal elementary
education. It has also been experienced that although the majority of children in India today have
access to school education, all of them are not receiving quality education for various reasons,
leading to poor learning level, repetition and gradual exclusion from school education. Large
achievement gaps are found among different groups of children attending schools located in
different regions and managed by government and private providers.

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3. INITIATIVES AT DIFFERENT STAGES OF EDUCATION
Elementary Education

Elementary education in India starts from the age of six. The government has made elementary
education compulsory and free.

The central and state governments have been expanding the provision of formal and non-formal
primary education to realise the goal of Universilisation of Elementary Education (UEE). For
detailed information click here-

∑ The Schemes for Providing Quality Education in Madrassas (SPQEM )

∑ Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) / Alternative & Innovative Education (AIE)

∑ Education for Women's Equality

∑ Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV)

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is a Government of India flagship programme for achievement
of Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE).

The programme seeks to open new schools in those habitations which do not have schooling
facilities and strengthen existing school infrastructure through provision of additional class
rooms, toilets, drinking water, maintenance grant and school improvement grants. SSA has a
special focus on girl's education and children with special needs. SSA also seeks to provide
computer education to bridge the digital divide.

∑ SSA Information System

∑ School Report Cards

∑ Education for All

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Mid-Day Meal Scheme

Aiming at enhancing enrollment, retention and attendance and simultaneously improving


nutritional levels among children, the Mid-Day Meal (MDM) is the world's largest school
feeding programme, reaching out to about 12 crore children in over 9.50 lakh schools/EGS
centres across the country.

Secondary Education

Secondary Education begins from class 9, leading to higher secondary education in classes 11
and 12. This crucial stage develops competency in children, which prepares them for higher
education and for the professional life.

Following the Constitutional mandate to Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE), and


success of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, it has become essential to move towards universalisation of
secondary education.

Schemes under this are:

∑ Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA)

∑ Girls Hostel Scheme

∑ Model School Scheme

∑ Information And Communication Technology In Schools

∑ National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship

∑ Adolescence Education Programme

Higher Education

Higher Education starts after class 12. Major policy decisions relating to higher education in the
country are taken by the Central Government. It provides grants to University Grant Commission
(UGC) and establishes central universities in the country. The Central Government is also

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responsible for declaration of Education Institutions as 'Deemed to be University' on the
recommendation of the UGC. And, State Governments are responsible for establishment of State
Universities and colleges.

Adult Education

Literacy among adults has been recognized as a crucial input for nation building. The National
Literacy Mission was set up on 5th May, 1988 to impart a new sense of urgency and seriousness
to adult education. Some of the other initiatives under adult education are:

∑ Saakshar Bharat

∑ Innovative Proposals in the field of Adult Education

∑ Scheme of Support to Voluntary Agencies for Adult Education and Skill Development

∑ Directorate of Adult Education

Provision of quality education for all at the elementary level has been a longstanding agenda in
India. It has always been of central concern of different commissions committees and policy
documents even before independence. Since independence, achieving UEE has become a
constitutional commitment and expansion of quality education has also become an important
strategy for achieving UEE. While describing equity, quantity and quality as the elusive triangle
in Indian education, Naik has considered the quality as ‘most central to education’ and ‘its very
life and soul’, He contends that: “Any education without quality is no education at all: it will not
be able to fulfil promises and will also do immense harm.”3 Notwithstanding these policy
recommendations and special efforts taken by government, many researchers (Mehrotra, 2006;
Dreze and Sen, 1995, 2002) have found that in reality, the situation is far from satisfactory
particularly in educationally backward states. The recent data indicate that while around 93% of
children are enrolled in schools, only around 30% stay on to complete five years of schooling;
and around 50% drop out without completing the compulsory education period of eight years

3
R.Govinda & Madhumita Bandyopadhyay, Overcoming Exclusion Through Quality Schooling, 3, (February 13,
2016), http://righttoeducation.in/sites/default/files/qualityandaccesstoeducation%281%29.pdf#overlay-context=

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4. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ACT
Education in the Indian constitution is a concurrent issue and both centre and states can legislate
on the issue. The Act lays down specific responsibilities for the centre, state and local bodies for
its implementation. The states have been clamouring that they lack financial capacity to deliver
education of appropriate standard in all the schools needed for universal education. Thus it was
clear that the central government (which collects most of the revenue) will be required to
subsidise the states.

A committee set up to study the funds requirement and funding initially estimated
that Rs 1710 billion or 1.71 trillion (US$38.2 billion) across five years was required to
implement the Act, and in April 2010 the central government agreed to sharing the funding for
implementing the law in the ratio of 65 to 35 between the centre and the states, and a ratio of 90
to 10 for the north-eastern states. However, in mid 2010, this figure was upgraded to Rs.
2310 billion, and the center agreed to raise its share to 68%.There is some confusion on this, with
other media reports stating that the centre's share of the implementation expenses would now be
70%. At that rate, most states may not need to increase their education budgets substantially.

A critical development in 2011 has been the decision taken in principle to extend the right to
education till Class X (age 16) and into the preschool age range. The Ministry of HRD set up a
high-level, 14-member National Advisory Council (NAC) for implementation of the Act.

A report on the status of implementation of the Act was released by the Ministry of Human
Resource Development on the one-year anniversary of the Act. The report admits that 8.1 million
children in the age group six-14 remain out of school and there’s a shortage of 508,000 teachers
country-wide. A shadow report by the RTE Forum representing the leading education networks
in the country, however, challenging the findings pointing out that several key legal
commitments are falling behind the schedule. The Supreme Court of India has also intervened to
demand implementation of the Act in the Northeast. It has also provided the legal basis for
ensuring pay parity between teachers in government and government aided schools.

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5. ANALYSIS AND SUGGESTIONS
One of the prime findings of the research is that the RTE Act is being violated at a very
fundamental level. The essence of the Act is to provide ‘Free and Compulsory Education’ to all
children in the country with “no discrimination” whatsoever. However, parents have to spend an
average of `300 per month per child to sustain their children’s needs in school. This is towards
purchasing stationery items, uniform apparel, school shoes, socks etc. It would be worthwhile to
elaborate on the expenditure on the uniform. Children are given a cloth-piece set for the uniform,
the tailoring cost of which has to be borne by the parents. Parents have indicated this cloth piece
set to be of extremely poor quality, apart from the fact that only one set of uniform does not meet
the child’s requirement. Hence, they end up buying more sets of uniform along with shoes, socks
and a belt. While this may come across as a trivial issue but not only does this finding challenge
the concept of the education being “free”, but it also questions the idea of “no discrimination”.
This is particularly because parents who are below the poverty line happen to get affected, as
they are unable to provide these necessities to their children. Under Section 3 of the RTE Act, it
is stated, “No child shall be liable to any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent
him or her from pursuing and completing the elementary education”.

Therefore, this finding reveals that the above-mentioned provision is being violated. Regrettably,
the problems related to “free” education don’t end here.

∑ At times, parents have to put in more money from their disposable income into their
children’s schooling. Even though it is the obligation of the State to “provide funds and
carry out the provisions of the Act”, schools lack basic furniture such as desks and
benches. The result is that poor parents purchase these items for the school or they must
look for potential donors to get basic infrastructure to schools. Further, an admission fee
of `50–60 is charged on admitting a child into any class from 6th standard onwards,
when it is illegal to charge any such fee. Thus, education is not “free” by any stretch of
imagination.
∑ Another major issue that impacts the quality of education in the schools is lack of need
based training facilities for teachers. The law mandates that “the Central government
shall develop and enforce standards by “providing training facilities for teachers” to

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“ensure good quality education conforming to the standards prescribed under section 29
of the RTE Act”. In reality, these rules are not being adhered to, with the result that
parents complain about teachers lacking expertise and seriousness about work. None of
the training programs have been specific to ensuring the effective implementation of
RTE Act. This has adversely affected the “quality of education”. Furthermore, the
teachers are in no mood to work professionally by building a culture of creativity,
innovation, problem solving and critical thinking around the students. Apart from being
relatively irregular, they take or make phone calls very often during teaching time. They
neglect some job obligations like attending post class hours to children struggling to
cope. Astonishingly, some teachers continue to violate the law, as they corporally punish
children or subject them to fear and anxiety.
∑ Another critical finding was relating to the sanitation in schools. There is no proper
drinking water facility, as there is lack of filtration from bore wells, in contrast to the
requirement of “proper sanitation”. The mid-day meals children get, sometimes makes
them feel unwell and neauseous. Children mentioned that it even contains worms. This
brings into question the sanitation of the kitchen and the care taken by the cooks. The
toilets are unusable due to non-availability of water, broken taps or lack of doors in the
cubicle. The children are required to clean the premises by means of sweeping and
mopping, which includes the toilets. The children and their parents strongly feel that the
school should have its own resources for maintaining cleanliness in the school.
∑ Most schools have very poor infrastructure. The buildings have seepages, broken walls,
damaged roofs, etc. Majority of schools lack a boundary wall and a playground. There
are some schools which do have boundary walls, but they are easily penetrable due to
their short height or the holes which have developed in various parts. Technically, these
schools should not have been allowed to be established as they did not “conform to the
standards of the schedule”, which stipulates that every school must have a playground
and a boundary wall.4

4
DR NIRANJANARADHYA V P & ABHINAV JHA, RIGHT OF CHILDREN TO FREE AND COMPULSORY EDUCATION ACT –
MILES TO GO… A CASE STUDY OF A GRAM PANCHAYAT (1st ed., 2013)

11
The above issues rarely come to notice since there is no system of monitoring by the Central
or State Government. In sum, there lies a huge discrepancy between what is mandated by
law and what is actually done at the grass-root level.

RECOMMENDATIONS

In order to help the government achieve better implementation of the RTE Act, the following
few recommendations have been made:

∑ Conduct massive awareness programmes amongst primary stakeholders; children,


parents, SDMC members, Panchayat Members about their rights and roles &
responsibility so that quality education is provided as required by law.
∑ A specific grant for Education should be given to the Panchayat to fulfil its obligation
under section 9 of the RTE Act.
∑ Have regular and proper inspection of schools in which schools are assessed on both a
quantitative and qualitative basis. The inspection officer must evaluate whether the RTE
Act is being followed in letter and spirit.
∑ Provide training facilities for teachers to enable them to teach children in the manner laid
down under section 29(2) in the RTE Act.
∑ Constitute Children’s Vigilance Committee in the Panchayat for monitoring the effective
implementation of the RTE Act.

ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS

A few minor but substantial suggestions have been made on the basis of the findings of this
research:

∑ Have somebody to clean the school premises.


∑ Have electricity to listen to the educational radio programmes.
∑ Have a sports ground in every school and more classrooms.
∑ Reconstruct classrooms which are damaged.
∑ Have the community and parents monitor school happenings.
∑ Have a health programme at school level.

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CONCLUSION
A new glimmer of hope for the much-ignored Public Education system in India was visible in
April 2010 when the Act was enacted. This Act had the promise of not only reforming the
existing Public Education system, but also making education a part of every child’s life. The Act
was designed to afford more opportunities to children by improving the basic educational
infrastructure, and helping each child realize his or her potential. However, the hapless reality is
that the path-breaking RTE Act is on the verge of becoming ineffectual, somewhat like the other
laws relating to fundamental rights in India. The Act had stated that the remodelling of the
system must be completed within three years of its enactment i.e. by April 2013.5 Yet, even
though we have reached the deadline by which the Act should have been implemented in its
entirety, the ground reality belies the statutory vision.

Despite the above mentioned flaws, there is still a need to engage with the legislation, critically
and constructively, in order to achieve our objective of ensuring equitable quality education to all
children until the age of 18 years. The Act should be used as tool to achieve the larger goal of
building a national system of education, based on the principle of neighbourhood schools to
create a Common Schooling System, as envisaged in the earlier national policies; 1968, 1986 and
1992 (Revised).

Most people in the Indian society have lived in the hope that one day their dream of securing
holistic education for all children - irrespective of their class, colour or creed - will become a
reality. This is in fact the very essence of Article 21A of the Indian Constitution. However, there
is conclusive evidence from the study to prove that the hiatus between what is laid down by law
and the ground realities is alarmingly colossal. In other words, what is written on paper is not
being implemented at the grass-root level and this has resulted in the path-breaking Act
becoming much less effective than what it was intended to be. Of course, it can be argued that
the Act is not without its flaws, but there is no denying that better implementation of the existing
provisions could have been achieved. It is imperative to point out that the people it matters most
to are unfortunately not even aware about the Act.

5
DR NIRANJANARADHYA V P & ABHINAV JHA, RIGHT OF CHILDREN TO FREE AND COMPULSORY EDUCATION ACT –
MILES TO GO… A CASE STUDY OF A GRAM PANCHAYAT (1st ed., 2013)

13
REFERENCES
STATUES & CONSTITUTIONS REFERRED:

∑ RIGHT OF CHILDREN TO FREE AND COMPULSORY EDUCATION ACT, 2009


∑ THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA, 1950
∑ DR. B.D. RAWAT, “CHILD EDUCATION IN INDIA – RETROSPECT AND PROSPECTS JOURNAL
OF THE LEGAL STUDIES, VOL-XLII, 2011, PAGE-I UNIVERSITY OF RAJASTHAN.

∑ JHA, PRAVEEN AND POOJA PARVATHI 2010, RIGHT TO EDUCATION ACT: 2009, CRITICAL
GAPS AND CHALLENGES, ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL WEEKLY, MARCH VOL XLV (13)

WEBSITES REFERRED:

∑ http://www.archive.india.gov.in/
∑ http://righttoeducation.in/
∑ https://www.nls.ac.in/ccl
∑ https://www.scribd.com/doc/49514258/ASSIGNMENT-ON-RIGHT-TO-EDUCATION
∑ http://www.indiastudychannel.com/resources/111415-Right-Education-Act-India-The-
Challenges.aspx as on January, 2012

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