Right to education kicks in on April 1
After more than six months’ wait, HRD minister Kapil Sibal on Friday signed the file for the notification of the Right to Education Act, 2009, in the next few days and its implementation from April 1. Delay in working out the finances and funding pattern between the Centre and states were the reasons given by HRD ministry for sitting on the notification. But the funding pattern is yet to be worked out and there is uncertainty on how much will be allocated for RTE in the upcoming budget. Ministry sources say only a small part of RTE implementation is dependent on finances. The ministry has projected Rs 1.71 lakh crore as the total cost of RTE, for both Centre and states, for five years. Right to education being a fundamental right, the government is obliged to provide funding, sources said. They also said, “Much of what is needed under Right to Education is already there in Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) which is going to be the main vehicle for implementing the historic legislation. Additional requirements will be only in terms of getting more teachers and building more classrooms.” Though late, the notification will ensure that state governments get into the act immediately and start by making it mandatory for schools to implement 25% reservation for poor children in the neighbourhood. But schools, especially private ones, in many states like Delhi might miss the reservation bus since the admission process for the coming academic session is in an advanced stage. Model rules for states have already been finalized while those for Union Territories are in an advanced stage. As for finances, sources said it is going to be a tough battle finalizing the funding pattern. States are also awaiting the 13th Finance Commission report to know what kind of devolution of funds has been recommended. Sources said more than Rs 20,000 crore has been given to the states for SSA. Hope stems from the fact that the Centre as well as states are in the process of finalizing their budgets. It is also expected that demand for extra funds will be met through supplementary grants.