Sundeep Bhutoria

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Friday, April 2, 2010

RTE – a turning point

April 1 2010 marks the advent of a new chapter and a turning point in the field of child education with the Right to Education (RTE) Act making free and compulsory education up to class eight a fundamental right for every child (aged 6 – 14 years) in the country.
Most of the educationally developed countries attained their current levels of educational by legislating free and compulsory education. Britain did it in 1870. I wonder why India had to wait an extra six decades since Independence to make RTE an Act.
UN bodies UNICEF and UNESCO have lauded the move and said that this Act would go a long way in propelling India’s potential to even greater heights of productivity and prosperity in the future.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has also been quick to react saying that RTE brings forth an opportunity to reach the disadvantaged sections of the society such as the child labourers. I too feel that child labour is a major issue in India and the RTE should, if implemented effectively, would surely address this problem. As a member of United Nations Association (UNA) youth body I have so many times faced embarrassing queries on this issue from representatives of other countries. I have always been at a loss to explain why Right to Education is not a fundamental right in India. The fact is that a healthy childhood is essential for country to have a generation of healthy youth force.
At last, after 60 years of Independence we have realised the importance of providing education to the children in India. In my own humble way I had started an education-for-all project in 2000 under the Education for All Trust. It is ironical that a common citizen like myself thought of this 10 years ahead of the Government of India. Better late than never. But there is a big question mark on implementation of the RTE Act. We have so many laws in our country which remain a law in paper only. I sincerely hope RTE will not fall in such category.
Today I wish to thank all the sponsors who contributed in cash or kind to the educational project that was launched by Smt Pratibha Patil in Raj Bhavan of Rajasthan (picture).
I hold to the view that lack of basic education is the prime reason for all others social problems including crimes.
Lt Gen V K Singh has become the Chief of Indian Army. Lt Gen Singh and I have many common friends. I had missed his farewell luncheon party as I was abroad. He has been very kind to attend one of the dinners hosted by me (picture). I wish him all the best for his new assignment.
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