COVID TIMES: A COMPROMISE WITH THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION
Dipendu Das and Debarati Pal, 1st Year, National University of Study and Research in Law, Ranchi
As we approach the end of the COVID-19 era, the definition of “normal” life has changed dramatically. As the world proved to get a semblance of the situation, students from all over the world faced challenges of coping with academics. The education system is facing a heavy crisis. In addition to the impact on short-term learning outcomes, the prolonged closure of schools has resulted in a loss of human capital and a reduction in long-term economic opportunities.
Education is not a privilege, but a human right. The right to education is legally guaranteed in India for children in the age group of 6 to 14 years without discrimination under Article 21A of the Constitution.
“The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine.”
It has been clearly stated that education provided by the government will have two features- “free” and “compulsory”. This implies that all educational expenses of a child are to be incurred by the Government, be it the expenses of the digital equipment required for online education or be it the expenses of transportation.
What is shocking in India is that despite the implementation of the Right to Education Act, COVID-19 has affected some 290 million children and 6 million of whom are no longer in school. According to a recent survey by Oxfam, up to 80% of Indian students are unable to access online education during the lockdown, and many may not return to class when they reopen physically.
These statistics threaten to increase because their families are economically insecure due to the pandemic, leaving them out of school. With their families struggling and economically stricken, their future seems bleak. In this article, we will focus particularly on analysing the reasons behind such shocking statistics, the negligence of the Right to Education Act in the era of the pandemic, and ways in which we can picture a brighter future and strive to bring back children to their learning centres after the pandemic.