A constitution is not merely about the composition of the various organs of government and the relations among them. The constitution is a document which sets limits on the powers of the government. It also makes sure that a democratic system exists in which all persons enjoy certain rights i.e. Fundamental rights. Without these fundamental rights, there would be no development of an individual in an intellectual and spiritual sphere. Among the fundamental rights, cultural rights and the right to education become very important. Let us discuss these in detail.
Fundamental Rights – Cultural and Educational Rights
Cultural and educational rights provide the rights to all section of society and it saves their culture script or language. The image of Indian society comes in our minds as a society full of diversity. In such a society with vast diversity, our Constitution believes that diversity is our strength.
Thus one of the fundamental rights is the right of the minorities to save their culture. Minorities are groups which have common language or religion and live in a particular part of the country. These communities have a culture, language and a script of their own, and have the right to preserve and develop these.
All minorities, religious or linguistic, can establish their own educational institutions also. In this way, they can preserve and develop their own culture. As we know democracy is the rule of the majority of people. But on the other hand, minorities are also important for its successful working.
Thus, the protection of language, culture, and religion of minorities becomes important. There is a need for this so that minorities may not feel neglected or undermined under the rule of the majority. Though people take pride in their own culture and language, a special right that is Cultural and Educational Right is available in our constitution.
Under these Articles, two major provisions are there:
- Protection of interests of minorities: Any minority community having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to preserve the same. The minority people can take admission into any educational institution maintained by the government or receiving funds from government, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.
- Right of minorities to set up and administer educational institutions: All Minorities, whether based on religion or language, have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their own choice. The government, while granting funds to educational institutions, will not differentiate against any educational institution on the basis that it comes under the management of a minority community.
Right to Education (RTE)
The Right to Education comes under a new Article 21A under Fundamental Rights in 2002 by the 86th Constitutional Amendment. It was a long-standing need so that all children in the age group of 6-14 years can claim compulsory and free education as a Fundamental Right.
It is a very important step for making the country free of illiteracy. But this addition remained meaningless because it could not be enforced until 2009 when the Parliament passed the Right to Education Act, 2009.
This Act aims at ensuring that each child who is between 6-14 years age group and is out of the school in India, must go to school. It is his or her right to receive a quality education.
This Act makes education a fundamental right of every child between the age group of 6-14. The act thus specifies minimum norms in elementary schools.
It demands that all schools reserve 25% of seats for deprived children. The government later reimburses the amount. It restricts all schools which are not recognized, from practice and it makes provisions for no donation or capitation fees and no interview of the child or parents for the admission. This Act also restricts that no child will be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until the completion of elementary education.
Solved Questions on Right to Education
What are the main provisions of the RTE Act?
Main provisions are as follows:
- RTE Act restricts physical punishment and mental harassment;
- Discrimination based on gender, caste, class, and religion;
- Screening procedures for admission of children;
- Capitation fee; private tuition by teachers and running of schools without recognition.