Review of Elementary Education Policy in India: Has It Upheld the Constitutional Objective of Equality?

Economic & Political Weekly, 1 November 2014

The Right to Education Act, 2009, has received mostly negative reactions from various quarters. These reactions have raised fundamental questions about the provision of elementary education as a public good and the role of the State in it. In this article an attempt is made to do a historical review of elementary education policies, placing them in the context of the constitutional objective of "equality of opportunity" and the fundamental right to education now guaranteed through the 86th amendment perationalised in the Act. The policies are reviewed with the lens of inclusion, as that has been, and continues to be, perhaps the most challenging issue in the education sector, even today. To what extent have the government's policies, and their modes of implementation, addressed the concerns and constraints faced by children from marginalised and excluded families in accessing their right to education as equal citizens? What are the implications for the future role of the State in the provision of basic education?