New Delhi: The Right to Education Act has ensured that the education budget in most states has doubled - 11 million more children are now enrolled in schools, Louis-George Arsenault, Unicef India representative, said Thursday.
Arsenault said 99 percent of India's rural population now has a primary school within a one-km radius.
The Unicef India representative, however, also noted the challenges that still lie ahead: despite the landmark law, eight million Indian children remain out of school.
Getting the children who have fallen out of the school system within it, and into age-appropriate classes remains a significant challenge, he said.
High enrollment rates alone do not mean much, if drop-out rates also remain high, the Unicef representative pointed out, speaking of the 80 million children who still drop out of school before completing the full cycle of elementary education.
Arsenault was speaking at a media round-table discussion to take stock of three years of the Right to Education Act.
March 31, 2013, was the agreed deadline for meeting most of the targets set by the RTE.
The Unicef representative expressed concern that even when students were going to school, their learning levels may be alarmingly poor. Many students who attend school do not learn the basics of literacy and numeracy, and do not achieve the necessary knowledge and skills for all-round development, as specified under the Act.
Arsenault also pointed out that some one-time investments like putting in place a well-stocked library or a functional toilet in every school made significant differences, a pedagogic transformation, as envisaged by the RTE, would only be brought about by substantive institutional reform.
The Right to Education Act guarantees every child the fundamental right to eight years of quality education, so that he or she acquires basic literacy and numeracy, and enjoys learning without fear.