The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009

What is this Act about?

This Act is about a child’s right to education. It ensures that all children get free education from class 1 to class 8. To achieve this, the Act lays down some duties for governments, schools, teachers and parents.

The Act also contains rules on pupil-teacher ratio, teacher vacancies, penalties for conducting screening tests and punishing children.

Does this Act apply to all children?

This Act only applies to children between the ages of 6 to 14. However, children who are more than 14 years old but have not been able to attend school till class 8, can get free education till class 8 under this Act.

How does this Act help children?

  • All children between the ages of 6 to 14 can get free education from class 1 to class 8, in a nearby government school or aided school.
  • Children who have never been to school or have dropped out, can get back to school. They will get admission in a class suitable to their age.
  • Children who are poor or underprivileged in some way, can get free education till class 8 in a private school.
  • Children must be given admission in a school even if they don’t have documents like transfer certificate and age proof.
  • Children cannot be forced to give tests for getting admission in a school.
  • Children cannot be asked to leave school or be forced to repeat a class, till they complete class 8.
  • It is illegal to beat up or harass a child.

Why is the word ‘compulsory’ used?

The word ‘compulsory’ means that it is compulsory for the government to give free education to all children. It does not mean it is compulsory for parents to send their children to school.

How can a child get free education in a private school?

  • Children from ‘disadvantaged groups’ and ‘weaker sections’ can get free education in a private school. These terms are explained below.
  • Every private school has to keep 25% of its seats in class 1 for children from ‘disadvantaged groups’ and ‘weaker sections’.
  • The school has to give free education to these children till class 8.

Please note that both the Central and State/UT Governments have issued rules which may contain additional or modified requirements which have to be followed by schools.

Updated till Jan, 2017
The Right Of Children To Free And Compulsory Education Act, 2009 [26th August, 2009] Act No. 35 of 2009 An Act to provide for free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years.
BE it enacted by Parliament in the Sixtieth Year of the Republic of India as follows:—

1. Short title, extent and commencement. —

(1) This Act may be called the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
(2) It shall extend to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir .
(3) It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint.
(4) Subject to the provisions of articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution, the provisions of this Act shall apply to conferment of rights on children to free and compulsory education
(5) Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to Madrasas, Vedic Pathsalas and educational institutions primarity imparting religious instruction.

To whom does this Act apply?

  • This Act applies to children between the age of 6 and 14 years in all Indian states except Jammu and Kashmir.
  • It has been in place since 1st April, 2010.
  • This section talks about minority schools and religious schools.

Who are minorities and what are minority schools?

  • Minorities are religious groups other than Hindus, such as Christians, Muslims and Parsis. Minorities are also groups in a state who don't speak the main language of the state, such as Tamilians in Haryana or Gujaratis in Karnataka.
  • Minority schools are schools run by members of a minority group.

Does this Act apply to minority schools?

No.
  • The Constitution of India allows minorities to run schools in their own way, so that they can protect their culture and language. This means that minority schools don't have to follow all the rules which apply to other schools.
  • For example, minority schools don't have to follow this Act where it says private schools should keep 25% of their seats for poor children and give them a free education.
  • In 2014, the Supreme Court decided that this Act will not apply to any minority schools, including those which receive any kind of support from the government (minority aided schools).
  • This is a controversial issue. It is still being debated if minority schools should follow this Act or not.

What are religious schools and does this Act apply to such schools?

They are schools which give religious education, like Madrasas and Vedic Pathshalas. The Act does not apply to such schools.

2. Definitions.

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, (a) "appropriate Government" means (i) in relation to a school established, owned or controlled by the Central Government, or the administrator of the Union territory, having no legislature, the Central Government; (ii) in relation to a school, other than the school referred to in sub-clause (i), established within the territory of- (A) a State, the State Government; (B) a Union territory having legislature, the Government of that Union territory; (b) "capitation fee" means any kind of donation or contribution or payment other than the fee notified by the school; (c) "child" means a male or female child of the age of six to fourteen years; (d) "child belonging to disadvantaged group" means a child with disability or a child belonging to the Scheduled Caste, the Scheduled Tribe, the socially and educationally backward class or such other group having disadvantage owing to social, cultural, economical, geographical, linguistic, gender or such other factor, as may be specified by the appropriate Government, by notification; (e) "child belonging to weaker section" means a child belonging to such parent or guardian whose annual income is lower than the minimum limit specified by the appropriate Government, by notification; (ee) "child with disability" includes, (A) a child with "disability" as defined in clause (i) of Section 2 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (Act 1 of 1996), (B) a child, being a person with disability as defined in clause (j) of Section 2 of the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999 (Act 44 of 1999) (C) a child with "severe disability" as defined in clause (o) of Section 2 of the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999 (Act 44 of 1999). (f) "elementary education" means the education from first class to eighth class; (g) "guardian", in relation to a child, means a person having the care and custody of that child and includes a natural guardian or guardian appointed or declared by a court or a statute; (h) "local authority" means a Municipal Corporation or Municipal Council or Zila Parishad or Nagar Panchayat or Panchayat, by whatever name called, and includes such other authority or body having administrative control over the school or empowered by or under any law for the time being in force to function as a local authority in any city, town or village; (i) "National Commission for Protection of Child Rights" means the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights constituted under Section 3 of the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005 (4 of 2006); (j) "notification" means a notification published in the Official Gazette; (k) "parent" means either the natural or step or adoptive father or mother of a child; (l) "prescribed" means prescribed by rules made under this Act; (m) "Schedule" means the Schedule annexed to this Act; (n) "school" means any recognised school imparting elementary education and includes— (i) a school established, owned or controlled by the appropriate Government or a local authority; (ii) an aided school receiving aid or grants to meet whole or part of its expenses from the appropriate Government or the local authority; (iii) a school belonging to specified category; and (iv) an unaided school not receiving any kind of aid or grants to meet its expenses from the appropriate Government or the local authority; (o) "screening procedure" means the method of selection for admission of a child, in preference over another, other than a random method; (p) "specified category", in relation to a school, means a school known as Kendriya Vidyalaya, Navodaya Vidyalaya, Sainik School or any other school having a distinct character which may be specified, by notification, by the appropriate Government; (q) "State Commission for Protection of Child Rights" means the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights constituted under Section 3 of the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005 (4 of 2006).

What is an appropriate government under this Act?

In India, all levels of government run schools. Appropriate government means the government which is running or is in charge of the school. This may be:
  • Central Government,
  • a State Government, or
  • government of a Union Territory (UT).
In case of schools run by a Union Territory without a legislature (such as Lakshadweep or Daman and Diu), it will be the Central Government.

What is capitation fee?

Capitation fee is any extra money or donation that a school asks for at the time of admission.

Which groups of children have special rights under this law?

This law recognizes that some children will need extra support to get a good education, such as children from disadvantaged groups and weaker sections, and children with disability.

Who is a child belonging to a disadvantaged group?

A child belonging to a disadvantaged group can be -
  • a child with a disability,
  • a child from a Scheduled Caste (SC),
  • a child from a Scheduled Tribe (ST),
  • a child who is not SC or ST but is from a group which is socially or educationally backward.
Apart from this, State and UT Governments can decide if there are some other children who are disadvantaged. For example,
  • a child with HIV,
  • a transgender child or child of transgender persons,
  • an orphan,
  • a child living on the street,
  • a child of a migrant worker.
Please check the government notification issued by the state or UT to figure out who are 'children belonging to disadvantaged groups' in your state or UT.

Who is a child belonging to a weaker section?

A child belonging to a weaker section is any child whose parents are poor. State and UT Governments have to fix a minimum income limit. Any child whose parents earn less than this limit will be a child belonging to a weaker section, in that state or UT. Please check the government notification issued by the state or UT to figure out the minimum income limit in your state or UT.

Who is a child with disability?

A 'child with disability' includes -
  • a child who is blind,
  • a child who has low vision,
  • a child who has been cured of leprosy,
  • a child who is deaf or who can't hear properly ,
  • a child who has problems with movement ,
  • a child with mental retardation (a child whose mind has not developed fully),
  • a child with autism,
  • a child with cerebral palsy,
  • a child with any other mental illness,
  • a child with 80% or more disability, or
  • a child with more than one of any of the above disabilities.

Who is a guardian?

A guardian is someone who looks after a child like a parent, but is not the child's parent.

What is a local authority under this Act?

Under this Act, a local authority is a government body which runs a school. This authority functions at a level lower than a state or UT government. It may be a -
  • Municipal Corporation,
  • Municipal Council,
  • Zila Parishad,
  • Nagar Panchayat,
  • Panchayat, or
  • Any other similar body.

Who is a parent?

A parent can be the -
  • Natural/biological mother or father
  • Step mother or father, or
  • Any woman or man who has adopted a child.

What is a school under this Act?

A school under this Act is one that:
  • is recognised (this means it must have a certificate from the government allowing it to run), and
  • has classes from 1 to 8 (it may have pre-primary classes and higher classes also).
Schools can be of four different types -
Government school A school which is run by the Central, State or UT Government, or by a Municipal Corporation, Zila Parishad, Panchayat etc.
Aided school A school which is not run by any government, but which gets some funds from the government.
Specified category school A special type of school run by the government. For example, Kendriya Vidyalayas (which are mainly run for children of government employees), Sainik Schools (which are mainly run for children of army persons), or Navodaya Vidyalayas (which only take children who are very good at academics).
Unaided school A private school. Such schools don't take any funds from the government.

What are specified category schools?

Specified category schools are special types of schools run by the government such as a Kendriya Vidyalaya, Navodaya Vidyalaya or Sainik School.

3. Right of child to free and compulsory education.

(1) Every child of the age of six to fourteen years, including a child referred to in clause (d) or clause (e) of Section 2, shall have the right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school till completion of elementary education.
(2) For the purpose of sub-section (1), 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 the elementary education:
(3) A child with disability referred to in sub-clause (A) of clause (ee) of section 2 shall, without prejudice to the provisions of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, and a child referred to in sub-clauses (B) and (C) of clause (ee) of section 2, have the same rights to pursue free and compulsory elementary education which children with disabilities have under the provisions of Chapter V of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (Act 1 of 1996). Provided that a child with "multiple disabilities" referred to in clause (h) and a child with "severe disability" referred to in clause (o) of section 2 of the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999 (Act 44 of 1999) may also have the right to opt for home-based education.

What does the right to free education mean under this Act?

  • Any child between the ages of 6-14 can study for free from class 1 to class 8 in a nearby government school or aided school.
    • This includes a disadvantaged child, child from a weaker section or a child with disability.
    • Aided schools have to set aside a minimum number of seats for children who want to get free education under this law. The number of seats reserved will depend on the amount of aid it gets from the government.
    • These children can also study for free from class 1 to class 8 in a nearby private school or specified category school. The Act says such schools must give free education to a minimum number of children.
  • Such a child cannot be forced to pay any money which makes it difficult for her to complete her education till class 8.

Do children with disability have any special rights?

  • A child with disability has special rights for getting education. Some of these are -
    • She can get free education till she turns 18.
    • She can study part-time after class 5.
    • She can get special books and equipment that she needs for free from the government.
  • Also, the government has to take special steps to help children with disability get education - give transport facilities, scholarships, part-time classes, informal education, make it easier for such children to give exams etc. This is provided under another law.
  • A child with 80% disability or two or more disabilities can choose to be educated at home.

4. Special provisions for children not admitted to, or who have not completed, elementary education.

Where a child above six years of age has not been admitted in 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: Provided that where a child is directly admitted in a class appropriate to his or her age, then, he or she shall, in order to be at par with others, have a right to receive special training, in such manner, and within such time-limits, as may be prescribed: Provided further that a child so admitted to elementary education shall be entitled to free education till completion of elementary education even after fourteen years.

How does this Act help children who have dropped out of school or have never been to school?

In India, there are many children who don't go to school. There are also children who join school but drop out before finishing their education.Under this Act,a child who is older than 6 years and has never gone to schoolora child who is older than 6 years and has gone to school but dropped out before completing class 8 -
  • will be admitted to a class suitable to her age. For example, a 12 year old child who has never gone to school will be admitted to class 6 or class 7, and not class 1or 2.
  • Such a child will get extra help with studies so she can catch up with other children of her age.
  • Such a child will have the right to free education till class 8, even after the age of 14.

5. Right of transfer to other school.

(1) Where in a school, there is no provision for completion of elementary education, a child shall have a right to seek transfer to any other school, excluding the school specified in sub-clauses (iii) and (iv) of Clause (n) of Section 2, for completing his or her elementary education.
(2) Where a child is required to move from one school to another, either within a State or outside, for any reason whatsoever, such child shall have a right to seek transfer to any other school, excluding the school specified in sub-clauses (iii) and (iv) of Clause (n) of Section 2, for completing his or her elementary education.
(3) For seeking admission in such other school, the Head-teacher or in-charge of the school where such child was last admitted, shall immediately issue the transfer certificate: Provided that delay in producing transfer certificate shall not be a ground for either delaying or denying admission in such other school: Provided further that the Head-teacher or in-charge of the school delaying issuance of transfer certificate shall be liable for disciplinary action under the service rules applicable to him or her.

Can a child shift to a different school before she finishes class 8?

Yes. Every child has the right to shift to another government school or aided school if the school does not have classes up till class 8.

What if a child is moving to a different state?

A child still has the right shift to another government or aided school in the new state.

What if a child doesn't get a transfer certificate from the school she is leaving?

The new school has to admit the child, even if she doesn't have a transfer certificate. At the same time, there is a duty on the person in charge of the school to issue a transfer certificate immediately.

6. Duty of appropriate Government and local authority to establish school.

For carrying out the provisions of this Act, the appropriate Government and the local authority shall establish, within such area or limits of neighbourhood, as may be prescribed, a school, where it is not so established, within a period of three years from the commencement of this Act.

Who will make sure that there are enough schools for all children in India?

The Central, State and UT governments, and local authorities have to make sure that there is a school in every neighbourhood or locality.

7. Sharing of financial and other responsibilities.

(1) The Central Government and the State Governments shall have concurrent responsibility for providing funds for carrying out the provisions of this Act.
(2) The Central Government shall prepare the estimates of capital and recurring expenditure for the implementation of the provisions of the Act.
(3) The Central Government shall provide to the State Governments, as grants-in-aid of revenues, such percentage of expenditure referred to in sub-section (2) as it may determine, from time to time, in consultation with the State Governments.
(4) The Central Government may make a request to the President to make a reference to the Finance Commission under sub-clause (d) of Clause (3) of Article 280 to examine the need for additional resources to be provided to any State Government so that the said State Government may provide its share of funds for carrying out the provisions of the Act.
(5) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (4), the State Government shall, taking into consideration the sums provided by the Central Government to a State Government under sub-section (3), and its other resources, be responsible to provide funds for implementation of the provisions of the Act.
(6) The Central Government shall— (a) develop a framework of national curriculum with the help of academic authority specified under Section 29; (b) develop and enforce standards for training of teachers; (c) provide technical support and resources to the State Government for promoting innovations, researches, planning and capacity building.
This section talks about how the Central Government and State Governments have to share responsibility for paying for the implementation of this Act.It also lays out the duties of the Central Government under this Act.

8. Duties of appropriate Government.

The appropriate Government shall— (a) provide free and compulsory elementary education to every child: Provided that where a child is admitted by his or her parents or guardian, as the case may be, in a school other than a school established, owned, controlled or substantially financed by funds provided directly or indirectly by the appropriate Government or a local authority, such child or his or her parents or guardian, as the case may be, shall not be entitled to make a claim for reimbursement of expenditure incurred on elementary education of the child in such other school. Explanation. The term "compulsory education" means obligation of the appropriate Government to— (i) provide free elementary education to every child of the age of six to fourteen years; and (ii) ensure compulsory admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by every child of the age of six to fourteen years; (b) ensure availability of a neighbourhood school as specified in Section 6; (c) ensure that the child belonging to weaker section and the child belonging to disadvantaged group are not discriminated against and prevented from pursuing and completing elementary education on any grounds; (d) provide infrastructure including school building, teaching staff and learning equipment; (e) provide special training facility specified in Section 4; (f) ensure and monitor admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by every child; (g) ensure good quality elementary education conforming to the standards and norms specified in the Schedule; (h) ensure timely prescribing of curriculum and courses of study for elementary education; and (i) provide training facility for teachers.
This section talks about the duties of the State and UT governments.The section also says that if a parent has admitted a child into a school which is not a government school or an aided school, they cannot try and get reimbursement for their child's education under this law.

9. Duties of local authority.

Every local authority shall— (a) provide free and compulsory elementary education to every child: Provided that where a child is admitted by his or her parents or guardian, as the case may be, in a school other than a school established, owned, controlled or substantially financed by funds provided directly or indirectly by the appropriate Government or a local authority, such child or his or her parents or guardian, as the case may be, shall not be entitled to make a claim for reimbursement of expenditure incurred on elementary education of the child in such other school; (b) ensure availability of a neighbourhood school as specified in Section 6; (c) ensure that the child belonging to weaker section and the child belonging to disadvantaged group are not discriminated against and prevented from pursuing and completing elementary education on any grounds; (d) maintain records of children up to the age of fourteen years residing within its jurisdiction, in such manner as may be prescribed; (e) ensure and monitor admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by every child residing within its jurisdiction; (f) provide infrastructure including school building, teaching staff and learning material; (g) provide special training facility specified in Section 4; (h) ensure good quality elementary education conforming to the standards and norms specified in the Schedule; (i) ensure timely prescribing of curriculum and courses of study for elementary education; (j) provide training facility for teachers; (k) ensure admission of children of migrant families; (l) monitor functioning of schools within its jurisdiction; and (m) decide the academic calendar.
This section talks about the duties of local authorities like Municipal Corporations, Zila Parishads, Panchayats etc.This section also says that if a parent has admitted a child into a school which is not a government school or an aided school, they cannot try and get reimbursement for their child's education under this law.

10. Duty of parents and guardian.

It shall be the duty of every parent or guardian to admit or cause to be admitted his or her child or ward, as the case may be, to an elementary education in the neighbourhood school.

What is the duty of parents and guardians?

Parents and guardians have a duty to send their children to school from class 1 to class 8. However, it is not compulsory for them to do so.

11. Appropriate Government to provide for pre-school education.

With a view to prepare children above the age of three years for elementary education and to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years, the appropriate Government may make necessary arrangement for providing free pre-school education for such children.

What does this Act say about pre-school education or education before class 1?

Governments can provide pre-school education to children between the ages of 3-6 years. However, it is not compulsory for them to do so.

12. Extent of school's responsibility for free and compulsory education. —

(1) For the purposes of this Act, a school,— (a) specified in sub-clause (i) of Clause (n) of Section 2 shall provide free and compulsory elementary education to all children admitted therein; (b) specified in sub-clause (ii) of Clause (n) of Section 2 shall provide free and compulsory elementary education to such proportion of children admitted therein as its annual recurring aid or grants so received bears to its annual recurring expenses, subject to a minimum of twenty-five per cent; (c) specified in sub-clauses (iii) and (iv) of Clause (n) of Section 2 shall admit in class I, to the extent of at least twenty-five per cent. of the strength of that class, children belonging to weaker section and disadvantaged group in the neighbourhood and provide free and compulsory elementary education till its completion: Provided further that where a school specified in Clause (n) of Section 2 imparts pre-school education, the provisions of Clauses (a) to (c) shall apply for admission to such pre-school education.
(2) The school specified in sub-clause (iv) of Clause (n) of Section 2 providing free and compulsory elementary education as specified in Clause (c) of sub-section (1) shall be reimbursed expenditure so incurred by it to the extent of per-child-expenditure incurred by the State, or the actual amount charged from the child, whichever is less, in such manner as may be prescribed: Provided that such reimbursement shall not exceed per-child-expenditure incurred by a school specified in sub-clause (i) of Clause (n) of Section 2: Provided further that where such school is already under obligation to provide free education to a specified number of children on account of it having received any land, building, equipment or other facilities, either free of cost or at a concessional rate, such school shall not be entitled for reimbursement to the extent of such obligation.
(3) Every school shall provide such information as may be required by the appropriate Government or the local authority, as the case may be.

Does every school have to give free education to all children?

No. The duty of different types of schools for giving free education is explained below -
Government School Free education to all children studying in class 1 to class 8.
Aided School Free education to a proportion of children from class 1 to class 8. The proportion will be the same as the proportion of the school's annual expenditure that it gets from the government. But it cannot be less than 25%

Specified Category School and Private School
Fill up at least 25% of its seats in class 1 with children from 'disadvantaged background' and 'weaker section'. Give free education to these children from class 1 to class 8.
If the school starts from Nursery or Kindergarten, it will fill up at least 25% of its seats in the lowest class with children from 'disadvantaged background' and 'weaker section' and give free education to these children till class 8.

Will private schools get any money from the government for giving free education to 25% of children?

Yes. The government will pay them the amount they spend on every child or its own per-child expenditure - whichever is lower.

Can these schools charge fee from the remaining 75% of children?

Yes.

13. No capitation fee and screening procedure for admission. —

(1) No school or person shall, while admitting a child, collect any capitation fee and subject the child or his or her parents or guardian to any screening procedure.
(2) Any school or person, if in contravention of the provisions of sub- section (1)— (a) receives capitation fee, shall be punishable with fine which may extend to ten times the capitation fee charged; (b) subjects a child to screening procedure, shall be punishable with fine which may extend to twenty-five thousand rupees for the first contravention and fifty thousand rupees for each subsequent contraventions.

Can the school ask for any money or donation at the time of admission?

No. If a school does this, it can be punished with a fine which can go up to 10 times the amount of money or donation it takes.

Can schools test or interview a child before giving her admission?

No. If a school does this, it can be punished with a fine of Rs. 25,000. If it continues to disobey, it can be punished with a fine of Rs. 50,000 each time it doesn't follow this rule.However, private schools may still have some type of testing procedure for children who don't apply for the 25% free seats.

14. Proof of age for admission. —

(1) For the purposes of admission to elementary education, the age of a child shall be determined on the basis of the birth certificate issued in accordance with the provisions of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, 1886 (6 of 1886) or on the basis of such other document, as may be prescribed.
(2) No child shall be denied admission in a school for lack of age proof.

Can a school refuse to admit a child if she does not have any age proof?

No. While it is helpful to have a birth certificate, not having one does not mean that your child will not be entitled to a free education under this Act. There is duty on schools to not deny admission simply because the child does not have age proof.

15. No denial of admission.

A child shall be admitted in a school at the commencement of the academic year or within such extended period as may be prescribed: Provided that no child shall be denied admission if such admission is sought subsequent to the extended period: Provided further that any child admitted after the extended period shall complete his studies in such manner as may be prescribed by the appropriate Government.

Can a child get admission in a school after the academic year has started?

Yes. A child can get admission in a school at any time of the year.

16. Prohibition of holding back and expulsion.

No child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education.

Can a child be asked to repeat a class?

No. Every child has to be promoted or passed to the next class till she reaches class 8.

Can a child be asked to leave the school for any reason?

No. A school cannot ask any child to leave until she completes class 8.

17. Prohibition of physical punishment and mental harassment to child. —

(1) No child shall be subjected to physical punishment or mental harassment.
(2) Whoever contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1) shall be liable to disciplinary action under the service rules applicable to such person.

Is it legal for schools to hit or harass a child?

No. It is illegal for schools to:
  • give any physical punishment to a child,
  • give any punishment which causes pain to a child, or
  • use abusive words while talking to a child.
Please remember that any kind of punishment which affects a child physically or mentally is unlawful.Any person who violates this can be punished under the service rules applicable to that person.

18. No school to be established without obtaining certificate of recognition. —

(1) No school, other than a school established, owned or controlled by the appropriate Government or the local authority, shall, after the commencement of this Act, be established or function, without obtaining a certificate of recognition from such authority, by making an application in such form and manner, as may be prescribed.
(2) The authority prescribed under sub-section (1) shall issue the certificate of recognition in such form, within such period, in such manner, and subject to such conditions, as may be prescribed: Provided that no such recognition shall be granted to a school unless it fulfils norms and standards specified under Section 19.
(3) On the contravention of the conditions of recognition, the prescribed authority shall, by an order in writing, withdraw recognition: Provided that such order shall contain a direction as to which of the neighbourhood school, the children studying in the derecognised school, shall be admitted: Provided further that no recognition shall be so withdrawn without giving an opportunity of being heard to such school, in such manner, as may be prescribed.
(4) With effect from the date of withdrawal of the recognition under sub-section (3), no such school shall continue to function.
(5) Any person who establishes or runs a school without obtaining certificate of recognition, or continues to run a school after withdrawal of recognition, shall be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees and in case of continuing contraventions, to a fine of ten thousand rupees for each day during which such contravention continues.
This section talks about the 'recognition' of schools.Every school (other than a government school) which has been set up after this Act came into place has to follow some rules. If it doesn't, it will not be recognised by the government. Under the rules, even schools which were set up before the Act came into place had to file for recognition within 3 months.

What happens if a school gets recognised but then stops following the rules?

The certificate of recognition will be taken back and it will be de-recognised.

If a school is de-recognised, what happens to the children studying in that school?

The children will get admission in a nearby government school.

What if the school keeps running without a certificate?

It will have to pay a fine which can go up to Rs. 1 lakh. If it keeps running even after this fine is charged, it will be have to pay Rs. 10,000 for every day after that.

19. Norms and standards for school.

(1) No school shall be established, or recognised, under Section 18, unless it fulfils the norms and standards specified in the Schedule.
(2) Where a school established before the commencement of this Act does not fulfil the norms and standards specified in the Schedule, it shall take steps to fulfil such norms and standards at its own expenses, within a period of three years from the date of such commencement.
(3) Where a school fails to fulfil the norms and standards within the period specified under sub-section (2), the authority prescribed under sub-section (1) of Section 18 shall withdraw recognition granted to such school in the manner specified under sub-section (3) thereof.
(4) With effect from the date of withdrawal of recognition under sub- section (3), no school shall continue to function.
(5) Any person who continues to run a school after the recognition is withdrawn, shall be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees and in case of continuing contraventions, to a fine of ten thousand rupees for each day during which such contravention continues.

What are the conditions to be met by these schools to get a certificate of recognition?

This section talks about the norms and standards that a school must follow for setting up and getting recognition. For example, every such school must have -
  • enough teachers, depending on the number of children
  • a proper building with enough rooms
  • separate toilets for boys and girls
  • drinking water facility
  • playground
  • library
The full list of norms and standards is given at the end of the Act.

20. Power to amend Schedule.

The Central Government may, by notification, amend the Schedule by adding to, or omitting therefrom, any norms and standards.

21. School Management Committee. —

(1) A school, other than a school specified in sub-clause (iv) of Clause (n) of Section 2, shall constitute a School Management Committee consisting of the elected representatives of the local authority, parents or guardians of children admitted in such school and teachers: Provided that at least three-fourth of members of such Committee shall be parents or guardians: Provided further that proportionate representation shall be given to the parents or guardians of children belonging to disadvantaged group and weaker section: Provided also that fifty per cent. of Members of such Committee shall be women.
(2) The School Management Committee shall perform the following functions, namely:— (a) monitor the working of the school; (b) prepare and recommend school development plan; (c) monitor the utilisation of the grants received from the appropriate Government or local authority or any other source; and (d) perform such other functions as may be prescribed. Provided that the School Management Committee constituted under sub-section (1) in respect of, (a) a school esbalished and administered by minority whether based on religion or language; and (b) all other aided schools as defined in sub-section (ii) of clause (n) of Section 2, shall perform advisory function only.

What is a School Management Committee or SMC?

  • It is a committee of parents, teachers and politicians, which looks after the activities of a school.
  • 75% its members have to be parents or guardians.
  • Parents or guardians of children belonging to disadvantaged groups and weaker sections also have to be represented
  • At least 50% of the members have to be women

Do all schools have to set up an SMC?

No. Only government schools and aided schools have to set up SMCs.

What are the functions of the School Management Committee?

The functions include:
  • keeping a check on school activities;
  • making a plan for the development of the school; and
  • checking the way in which money from the government or other source is being used.
The School Management Committee in minority and government aided schools will only play an advisory role.

22. School Development Plan. —

(1) Every School Management Committee, except the School Management Committee in respect of a school established and administered by minority, whether based on religion or language and an aided school as defined in sub-clause (ii) of clause (n) of section 2, constituted under sub-section (1) of Section 21, shall prepare a School Development Plan, in such manner as may be prescribed.
(2) The School Development Plan so prepared under sub-section (1) shall be the basis for the plans and grants to be made by the appropriate Government or local authority, as the case may be.
  • The SMC has to make a School Development Plan
  • The plan talks about the school's needs and budget
  • The government has to make grants to the school based on this plan.

23. Qualifications for appointment and terms and conditions of service of teachers. —

(1) Any person possessing such minimum qualifications, as laid down by an academic authority, authorised by the Central Government, by notification, shall be eligible for appointment as a teacher.
(2) Where a State does not have adequate institutions offering courses or training in teacher education, or teachers possessing minimum qualifications as laid down under sub-section (1) are not available in sufficient numbers, the Central Government may, if it deems necessary, by notification, relax the minimum qualifications required for appointment as a teacher, for such period, not exceeding five years, as may be specified in that notification: Provided that a teacher who, at the commencement of this Act, does not possess minimum qualifications as laid down under sub-section (1), shall acquire such minimum qualifications within a period of five years.
(3) The salary and allowances payable to, and the terms and conditions of service of, teacher shall be such as may be prescribed.

Who can become a teacher?

Any person can become a teacher if she has the minimum qualifications set by the government. (The government usually conducts a test, and people who pass the test get qualified to be a teacher)

What happens if a state does not have enough teacher training institutes or enough teachers with minimum qualifications?

The government can relax the minimum qualifications for up to 5 years.

24. Duties of teachers and redressal of grievances. —

(1) A teacher appointed under sub-section (1) of Section 23 shall perform the following duties, namely:— (a) maintain regularity and punctuality in attending school; (b) conduct and complete the curriculum in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (2) of Section 29; (c) complete entire curriculum within the specified time; (d) assess the learning ability of each child and accordingly supplement additional instructions, if any, as required; (e) hold regular meetings with parents and guardians and apprise them about the regularity in attendance, ability to learn, progress made in learning and any other relevant information about the child; and (f) perform such other duties as may be prescribed.
(2) A teacher committing default in performance of duties specified in sub-section (1), shall be liable to disciplinary action under the service rules applicable to him or her: Provided that before taking such disciplinary action, reasonable opportunity of being heard shall be afforded to such teacher.
(3) The grievances, if any, of the teacher shall be redressed in such manner as may be prescribed.

What are the duties imposed on teachers under this Act?

  • A teacher has to attend school regularly.
  • She must complete the curriculum on time and according to the government rules.
  • She must try and understand the learning ability of every child she is teaching. If a child needs more help, she must support the child accordingly.
  • She must hold regular meetings with the parents and guardians and discuss the child's attendance, ability to learn and progress in class.

What can happen if she does not perform these duties?

  • If a teacher does not perform these duties, she can face disciplinary action
  • If a teacher faces any problem, it can be resolved through a mechanism set up under the Act.

25. Pupil-Teacher Ratio. —

(1) Within three years from the date of commencement of this Act, the appropriate Government and the local authority shall ensure that the Pupil-Teacher Ratio, as specified in the Schedule, is maintained in each school.
(2) For the purpose of maintaining the Pupil-Teacher Ratio under sub-section (1), no teacher posted in a school shall be made to serve in any other school or office or deployed for any non-educational purpose, other than those specified in Section 27.

What is Pupil-Teacher Ratio?

It is the ratio of number of students to the number of teachers in a school.For example, the Act says that if a school has 60 students in classes 1-5, it should have at least 2 teachers for them. Please check the Schedule to the Act to figure out the pupil-teacher ratio applicable to your child's school.

26. Filling up vacancies of teachers.

The appointing authority, in relation to a school established, owned, controlled or substantially financed by funds provided directly or indirectly by the appropriate Government or by a local authority, shall ensure that vacancy of teacher in a school under its control shall not exceed ten per cent of the total sanctioned strength.
The government has to make sure that not more than 10% of total teacher posts in its own schools remains empty.

27. Prohibition of deployment of teachers for non-educational purposes.

No teacher shall be deployed for any non-educational purposes other than the decennial population census, disaster relief duties or duties relating to elections to the local authority or the State Legislatures or Parliament, as the case may be.

Can teachers take up non-educational activities?

Teachers can only take up some non-educational activities such as population census (which happens once in ten years), disaster relief duties and election duties, but not any others.

28. Prohibition of private tuition by teacher.

No teacher shall engage himself or herself in private tuition or private teaching activity.

Can teachers give private tuition?

No.

29. Curriculum and evaluation procedure. —

(1) The curriculum and the evaluation procedure for elementary education shall be laid down by an academic authority to be specified by the appropriate Government, by notification.
(2) The academic authority, while laying down the curriculum and the evaluation procedure under sub-section (1), shall take into consideration the following, namely:— (a) conformity with the values enshrined in the Constitution; (b) all round development of the child; (c) building up child's knowledge, potentiality and talent; (d) development of physical and mental abilities to the fullest extent; (e) learning through activities, discovery and exploration in a child friendly and child-centered manner; (f) medium of instructions shall, as far as practicable, be in child's mother tongue; (g) making the child free of fear, trauma and anxiety and helping the child to express views freely; (h) comprehensive and continuous evaluation of child's understanding of knowledge and his or her ability to apply the same.
This section talks about the duty of the government to set up a curriculum and exam procedure for classes 1-8.

30. Examination and completion certificate. —

(1) No child shall be required to pass any Board examination till completion of elementary education.
(2) Every child completing his elementary education shall be awarded a certificate, in such form and in such manner, as may be prescribed.

Does a child have to give any board exam between classes 1-8?

No.

31. Monitoring of child's right to education. —

(1) The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights constituted under Section 3, or, as the case may be, the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights constituted under Section 17, of the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005 (4 of 2006), shall, in addition to the functions assigned to them under that Act, also perform the following functions, namely:— (a) examine and review the safeguards for rights provided by or under this Act and recommend measures for their effective implementation; (b) inquire into complaints relating to child's right to free and compulsory education; and (c) take necessary steps as provided under Sections 15 and 24 of the said Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act.
(2) The said Commissions shall, while inquiring into any matters relating to child's right to free and compulsory education under Clause (c) of sub-section (1), have the same powers as assigned to them respectively under Sections 14 and 24 of the said Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act.
(3) Where the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has not been constituted in a State, the appropriate Government may, for the purpose of performing the functions specified in Clauses (a) to (c) of sub-section (1), constitute such authority, in such manner and subject to such terms and conditions, as may be prescribed.
This section talks about the functions of the National and State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
  • These bodies have to make sure that children are getting their rights under this Act.
  • They can make recommendations to the government and deal with complaints about violation of a child's right to free education.
  • States which don't have State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights have to set up another authority which can perform these functions.

32. Redressal of grievances. —

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in Section 31, any person having any grievance relating to the right of a child under this Act may make a written complaint to the local authority having jurisdiction.
(2) After receiving the complaint under sub-section (1), the local authority shall decide the matter within a period of three months after affording a reasonable opportunity of being heard to the parties concerned.
(3) Any person aggrieved by the decision of the local authority may prefer an appeal to the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights or the authority prescribed under sub-section (3) of Section 31, as the case may be.
(4) The appeal preferred under sub-section (3) shall be decided by State Commission for Protection of Child Rights or the authority prescribed under sub-section (3) of Section 31, as the case may be, as provided under Clause (c) of sub-section (1) of Section 31.

What can you do if a child's rights under this Act are violated?

  • You can write a complaint to the local authority in your area. (the state or UT government will decide who is the local authority for this purpose)
  • The authority, after hearing both parties, has to decide the matter in 3 months.
  • If you are not happy with the decision of the authority, you can go to the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights or the authority set up in its place.

33. Constitution of National Advisory Council. —

(1) The Central Government shall constitute, by notification, a National Advisory Council, consisting of such number of Members, not exceeding fifteen, as the Central Government may deem necessary, to be appointed from amongst persons having knowledge and practical experience in the field of elementary education and child development.
(2) The functions of the National Advisory Council shall be to advise the Central Government on implementation of the provisions of the Act in an effective manner.
(3) The allowances and other terms and conditions of the appointment of Members of the National Advisory Council shall be such as may be prescribed.
This section talks about the setting up of a National Advisory Council which has to advise the Central Government on the implementation of the Act.

34. Constitution of State Advisory Council. —

(1) The State Government shall constitute, by notification, a State Advisory Council consisting of such number of Members, not exceeding fifteen, as the State Government may deem necessary, to be appointed from amongst persons having knowledge and practical experience in the field of elementary education and child development.
(2) The functions of the State Advisory Council shall be to advise the State Government on implementation of the provisions of the Act in an effective manner.
(3) The allowances and other terms and conditions of appointment of Members of the State Advisory Council shall be such as may be prescribed.
This section talks about the setting up of State Advisory Councils which shall advise State Governments on the implementation of the Act.

35. Power to issue directions. —

(1) The Central Government may issue such guidelines to the appropriate Government or, as the case may be, the local authority, as it deems fit for the purposes of implementation of the provisions of this Act.
(2) The appropriate Government may issue guidelines and give such directions, as it deems fit, to the local authority or the School Management Committee regarding implementation of the provisions of this Act.
(3) The local authority may issue guidelines and give such directions, as it deems fit, to the School Management Committee regarding implementation of the provisions of this Act.
This section talks about the power of the Central, State or UT governments and local authorities to issue guidelines for enforcing the provisions of the Act.

36. Previous sanction for prosecution.

No prosecution for offences punishable under sub-section (2) of Section 13, sub-section (5) of Section 18 and sub-section (5) of Section 19 shall be instituted except with the previous sanction of an officer authorised in this behalf, by the appropriate Government, by notification.

37. Protection of action taken in good faith.

No suit or other legal proceeding shall lie against the Central Government, the State Government, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, the local authority, the School Management Committee or any person, in respect of anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done, in pursuance of this Act, or any rules or order made thereunder.
This section prohibits any legal action against the Central/State Government, National/State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, local authority, School Management Committee for actions (in relation to the RTE Act) which are in good faith.

38. Power of appropriate Government to make rules. —

(1) The appropriate Government may, by notification, make rules, for carrying out the provisions of this Act.
(2) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing powers, such rules may provide for all or any of the following matters, namely:— (a) The Manner Of Giving Special Training And The Time-Limit Thereof, Under First Proviso To Section 4; (b) the area or limits for establishment of a neighbourhood school, under Section 6; (c) the manner of maintenance of records of children up to the age of fourteen years, under Clause (d) of Section 9; (d) the manner and extent of reimbursement of expenditure, under sub-section (2) of Section 12; (e) any other document for determining the age of child under sub-section (1) of Section 14; (f) the extended period for admission and the manner of completing study if admitted after the extended period, under Section 15; (g) the authority, the form and manner of making application for certificate of recognition, under sub-section (1) of Section 18; (h) the form, the period, the manner and the conditions for issuing Certificate of Recognition, under sub-section (2) of Section 18; (i) the manner of giving opportunity of hearing under second proviso to sub-section (3) of Section 18; (j) the other functions to be performed by School Management Committee under Clause (d) of sub-section (2) of Section 21; (k) the manner of preparing School Development Plan under sub-section (1) of Section 22; (l) the salary and allowances payable to, and the terms and conditions of service of, teacher, under sub-section (3) of Section 23; (m) the duties to be performed by the teacher under Clause (f) of sub-section (1) of Section 24; (n) the manner of redressing grievances of teachers under sub-section (3) of Section 24; (o) the form and manner of awarding certificate for completion of elementary education under sub-section (2) of Section 30; (p) the authority, the manner of its constitution and the terms and conditions therefor, under sub-section (3) of Section 31; (q) the allowances and other terms and conditions of appointment of Members of the National Advisory Council under sub-section (3) of Section 33; (r) the allowances and other terms and conditions of appointment of Members of the State Advisory Council under sub-section (3) of Section 34.
(3) Every rule made under this Act and every notification issued under Sections 20 and 23 by the Central Government shall be laid, as soon as may be after it is made, before each House of Parliament, while it is in session, for a total period of thirty days which may be comprised in one session or in two or more successive sessions, and if, before the expiry of the session immediately following the session or the successive sessions aforesaid, both Houses agree in making any modification in the rule or notification or both Houses agree that the rule or notification should not be made, the rule or notification shall thereafter have effect only in such modified form or be of no effect, as the case may be; so, however, that any such modification or annulment shall be without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under that rule or notification.
(4) Every rule or notification made by the State Government under this Act shall be laid, as soon as may be after it is made, before the State Legislatures.
This section talks about the subjects on which the Central, State or UT government can make rules under this Act.For example, the State or UT government will decide -
  • the size of a neighbourhood in which a school has to be set up,
  • the way in which records of children should be kept,
  • duties of a teacher apart from the ones mentioned in this Act, and
  • the way in which SMCs have to prepare the School Development Plan.

39. Power of Central Government to remove difficulties:

(1) If any difficulty arises in giving effect to the provisions of this Act, the Central Government may, by order, published in the Official Gazette, make such provisions not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, as may appear to it to be necessary for removing the difficulty: Provided that no order shall be made under this section after the expiry of three years from the commencement of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Act, 2012.
(2) Every order made under this section shall be laid, as soon as may be after it is made, before each House of Parliament.
This section talks about the powers of the Central Government to remove difficulties in enforcing the Act.

THE SCHEDULE

(See Sections 19 and 20)
NORMS AND STANDARDS FOR A SCHOOL
Sl. No Item Norms and Standards
1 Number of teachers:
(a) For first class to fifth class Admitted children Number of teachers
Up to Sixty Two
Between sixty-one to ninety Three
Between Ninety-one to one hundred and twenty Four
Between One hundred and twenty-one to two hundred Five
Above One hundred and fifty Children Five plus one Head-teacher
Above Two hundred children Pupil-Teacher Ratio (excluding Head-teacher) shall not exceed forty.
(b) For sixth class to eighth class (1) At least one teacher per class so that there shall be at least one teacher each for--
(i) Science and Mathematics;
(ii) Social Studies;
(iii) Languages.
(2) At least one teacher for every thirty-five children.
(3) Where admission of children is above one hundred--
(i) a full time head-teacher;
(ii) part time instructors for--
(A) Art Education;
(B) Health and Physical Education;
(C) Work Education.
2 Building All-weather building consisting of--
(i) at least one class-room for every teacher and an office-cum-store-cum-Head teacher's room;
(ii) barrier-free access;
(iii) separate toilets for boys and girls;
(iv) safe and adequate drinking water facility to all children;
(v) a kitchen where mid-day meal is cooked in the school;
(vi) Playground;
(vii) arrangements for securing the school building by boundary wall or fencing.
3 Minimum number of working days/instructional hours in an academic year (i) two hundred working days for first class to fifth class;
(ii) two hundred and twenty working days for sixth class to eighth class;
(iii) eight hundred instructional hours per academic year for first class to fifth class;
(iv) one thousand instructional hours per academic year for sixth class to eighth class.
4 Minimum number of working hours per week for the teacher forty-five teaching including preparation hours.
5 Teaching learning equipment Shall be provided to each class as required.
6 Library There shall be a library in each school providing newspaper, magazines and books on all subjects, including story-books.
7 Play material, games and sports equipment Shall be provided to each class as required.