With the Right To Education Act coming into force today, government faces a number of challenges in its implementation, especially availability of teachers and setting up of neighbourhood schools.
There is a shortage of nearly five lakh teachers while there are about three lakh untrained teachers at elementary stage.
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, which came into effect from today, says there should be one teacher for every 30 students at elementary level.
At present, there are about seven lakh teachers in all the 1.29 million recognised elementary schools in the country. Of them, nearly three lakh teachers are either untrained or under-trained.
The model rules for the Act say that state governments and local authorities will establish schools within walking distance of one km of the neighbourhood. In case of children for Class VI to VIII, the school should be within a walking distance of three km of the neighbourhood.
Shortage of teachers and neighbourhood schools are the major challenges for implementation of the Act, a ministry source said.
In case of schools not having trained teachers, they will have to comply with the provision within five years.
As per the new law, the schools need to have certain minimum facilities like adequate teachers, playground and infrastructure.
As per the model rules, the local bodies and the state governments will undertake household surveys and neighbourhood school mapping to ensure that all children are sent to school.
Besides, there are thousands of students who are working as child labourers. Providing education to such kids, including the children of sex workers, will be a challenge, the source said.
At present, nearly 92 lakh children have either dropped out from schools or have never been to any educational institution. It will be binding on part of the local and state governments to ensure that all these children are brought back to schools.
The implementation of the Act would require Rs 1.71 lakh crore for the next five years. The sharing of funds between the Centre and the state governments could be in the ratio of 55-45, the source said.
A proposal to this effect will go to the expenditure finance committee soon before it goes to the cabinet. The finance commission has provided Rs 25,000 crore to the states for implementation of the Act over five years.
HRD minister Kapil Sibal has already written to the states to join the mission for the national enterprise of education. Their feedback is positive, the source said.
According to sources, the state governments are seeking 90% funding from the Centre for implementing the Act.
The government is in the process of revising the norms of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) to make it compatible with RTE norms. The SSA will be the vehicle for implementation of RTE.
The Act mandates that even private educational institutions have to reserve 25 per cent seats for children from weaker sections.
However, it will be implemented from next year from class one.
Certain schools have already challenged the law in the Supreme Court as being "unconstitutional" and violating fundamental rights of unaided private educational institutions.
However, Sibal has said that legal process would not affect the implementation of law.
The government is in the process of preparing rules for the implementation of the Act in the Union Territories. These will be ready in a few days.