Compulsion to educate

Authored by: Archana Mehendale

The Routledge Handbook of Education in India

Print publication date:  September  2021
Online publication date:  September  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367466770
eBook ISBN: 9781003030362
Adobe ISBN:


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The Constitution (86th Amendment) Act, 2002 has been a significant milestone in India’s journey towards universalisation of elementary education because it made free and compulsory education a fundamental right of children between the ages of 6 and 14 years. The subsequent enactment of special legislation to give effect to the fundamental right to education and the notification of delegated legislation (Rules) by state governments has shaped the contemporary discourse on education policy in India. This chapter attempts to analyse the two critical dimensions of this right, ‘free’ and ‘compulsory’ by first tracing its historical, administrative, and legal roots. Then the idea of ‘compulsion’ is examined so as to tease out its seeming contradictions with the notion of a ‘right’, by particularly drawing comparisons with the earlier state-specific legislation that was modelled on truancy law. The chapter then touches upon some of the key contestations and debates pertaining to the legal provisions that reflect unresolved issues that lie within and outside the official agenda as well as the public discourse.

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