|Abstract: ||India’s Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE) mandates free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school for all children between the ages of six and 14 years until the completion of elementary education. The RTE Act articulates children’s right to education as enforceable by law for the first time in India. A salient feature of the RTE Act is the 25 percent free seat provision (FSP), which mandates private unaided schools to allot, for free, 25 percent of their seats (beginning in Class 1 or pre-primary, as applicable) to children from economically weaker sections and disadvantaged groups. This major research paper critically examines the regulatory framework constituted by the rules that have been notified regarding the 25 percent FSP, taking Karnataka and Delhi as case study states. Furthermore, the study analyses the potential impact of the rules on opportunities for access and inclusion to children from economically weaker and disadvantaged groups. Through the use of critical discourse analysis, several lexical, syntactical and content issues have been highlighted.
The study finds that the rules adopted by both case study states generally constitute regulatory frameworks that comply with the RTE Act. However, there are gaps in terms of capturing multiple identities that children may hold as persistent sources of historical discrimination. Furthermore, the grievance redressal mechanism, the only institutionalised enforcement mechanism in the Act, demonstrates ambiguities and lacks clearly defined roles for authorities, weakening its efficacy.|