July 14, 2006

Centre quietly buries Right to Education Bill

To Make Way For Arjun’s Quota In Elite Institutions

By Seethalakshmi S/TNN

Bangalore: What’s important? Sending 17 crore children to school or vote-bank politics? The latter, obviously.
   While it’s ready to pour funds in higher educational institutions to see that quota is implemented, the Centre is giving a quiet burial to the Right to Education Bill citing lack of funds. The Bill makes education a fundamental right for children in the 6-14 age group.
   Another ‘excuse’ for dropping the Bill is the private school lobby. Schools are opposing the Bill as it mandates that even private and elite schools reserve 25% seats for poor children. In fact, the sub-committee of the Central Advisory Board of Education which prepared the draft Bill held this provision as a significant prerequisite for creating a democratic and egalitarian society.
   In fact, even the Law Commission, which prepared an alternative draft Bill, said 50% of seats should be reserved for the poor in all schools, irrespective of management or financing. The principle behind this was to end the divide between the rich and the poor in the school system.
   Educationists refuse to swallow the reasons given by the government. “It’s intriguing because the government is ready to give funds to create additional places in higher education institutions to accommodate the reservation policy, but cities lack funds for elementary education. All in the name of equity and social justice,’’ R Govinda, senior fellow at the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), Delhi, said. NIEPA prepared the financial memorandum for the Centre to implement the Bill.
   Agreed others. “Though it is the private school lobby which has pushed the Bill to the backburner, HRD minister Arjun Singh’s proposal to implement 27% quota in IIMs/IITs and other elite institutions has taken centrestage. The government has an excuse now,’’ sources said.
   Six years after the Constitution was amended to make education a fundamental right, the Centre will now send a model Bill to the states. They will be asked to make their own
Kill Bill

Parliament passed the 86th Constitution Amendment Act in 2002 to make education for children in the age-group of 6 to 14, a fundamental right.

Then NDA government prepared a draft central legislation to implement Constitution provision.
In 2004, UPA government discarded draft Bill and got Central Advisory Board of Education to prepare another Bill. This was to be tabled in Parliament.
The PM set up a Group of Ministers to look into feasibility of draft. GoM said implementing it would involve huge funds.
May 2006, Centre decides Bill will not be tabled and that a model Bill will be sent to all states.

Education Bill back with states

Bangalore: With the Centre quietly burying the Right to Education Bill, history is only repeating itself.
   In 1994, following the Unnikrishnan judgment, the Centre asked states to make education compulsory for children in the age group of 6 to 14. But the state governments, including Karnataka, threw up their hands saying implementing it would result in severe financial burden on the exchequer.
   “Putting it back in the state’s court is going to the 1994 situation. Since education is in the concurrent list, it is only appropriate that the Centre prepares at least a framework for implementation rather than handing out the entire responsibility to us. If states could do it, we would have done it in 1994 itself,” education department officials explained.
   What has angered educationists is the Centre’s skewed priorities. As senior fellow in NIEPA, R Govinda put it: “Having violated the principle of social justice for the first 12 years of the education ladder, is it not illogical to talk of social justice with respect to the minuscule proportion of students who compete for seats in engineering and medical colleges? Are we not talking of equity and social justice too late in the educational ladder?”
   “By sidelining the Bill, the government has made a mockery of the long-drawn and complicated exercise undertaken by CABE. By shirking its responsibility in preparing a central legislation, the government is violating the Constitution,” said V P Niranjanaradhya of the National Law School of India University, which is working towards universalisation of education.


* 50% children don’t stay in schools to complete even elementary cycle of education.

* Only 26% children in the relevant age group complete relevant schooling.

* Only 6 to 7% have access to higher education. Of this, only a negligible proportion become eligible to compete for professional courses.


The National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration, Delhi, took up the task of preparing the finances to implement the Right to Education Bill. The additional financial requirement for free and compulsory education Bill from 2006-07 to 2011-12 as projected by NIEPA: Option 1: Rs 4.36 lakh crore. Option 2: Rs 3.93 lakh crore Option 3: Rs 3.46 lakh crore. Option 4: Rs 3.21 lakh crore.

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