NDA government's draft Bill for 83rd Constitution Amendment to make free and compulsory education a fundamental right and its criticism

First Draft: THE FREE AND COMPULSORY EDUCATION BILL (10/12/2003)1 2

In 2003, the first draft of the Right to Education bill was circulated for public review.

Sub: Free and Compulsory Education for Children Bill and Delhi statehood Bill: Possible conflicts with Delhi Development Act, 1957

10 November 2003

Mr P K Vishwanathan
Secretary, Legal Department
Ministry of Law and Justice
4th floor, Shastri Bhawan
New Delhi

Sub:     Free and Compulsory Education for Children Bill and Delhi statehood Bill: Possible conflicts with Delhi Development Act, 1957

Dear Mr Wishwanathan,

I am writing to bring to your attention two point of what appear to me to be conflicts between Bills that I understand from news reports are to be tabled in Parliament in the forthcoming session and Delhi Development Act of 1957.

  1. s.14 of the Free and Compulsory Education for Children Bill 2003 provides for free education to BPL children to maximum extent of 20% by private unaided schools. The legal regime flowing from Delhi Development Act provides for freeships to extent of 25% for children from EWS (economically weaker sections). The proposed Bill, in effect, downsizes the benefits to which poor children are entitled in law in Delhi. In purely procedural terms s.11A process, inclusive of Public Notice, is pre-required by DD Act before the legal regime flowing from it can be modified.
  2. s.4(3) of Delhi Statehood Bill reportedly defines the Master Plan as any plan that provides for land uses, building regularisation or any other control norms for the development of the State of Delhi. This definition is inconsistent with the definition set out in Delhi Development Act and this inconsistency is problematic since land has been compulsorily acquired under DD Act for 40 years only for development according to Plan (as duly defined in Delhi Development Act of 1957).

Already the Delhi Cooperative Societies Bill was passed by Delhi Assembly on 29.08.03 even after the concerned Minister had admitted to conflict with DD Act and lapse on mandatory Public Notice process under s.11A despite requests on 28.08.03 that it not be tabled.

This is to request you to kindly have these points examined and, if I should be writing to anyone else, to please let me know.

Thanking you 

Yours sincerely 

Gita Dewan Verma / Planner 

cc:

  • Secretary, Ministry of HRD (for information re no.1 above)
  • Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs (for information re no.2 above)
  • Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development(for information, in continuation of correspondence re Cooperative Bill)
  • Shri K.Chakraborty, Deputy Secretary, Lok Sabha Secretariat (with request for hearing by Standing Parliamentary Committee examining DDA functioning)

A REPORT ON CONSULTATIVE MEETING ON COMMON SCHOOL SYSTEM3

ORGANISED BY SOCIAL JURIST, NOVEMBER 01, 2003

A Consultative Meeting on Common School System organized by Social Jurist, A Group of Lawyers was held at Indian Law Institute, New Delhi on 1st November 2003.

REPORT ON CONSULTATIVE MEETING ON DRAFT FREE AND COMPULSORY EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN BILL, 20034

ORGANISED BY SOCIAL JURIST NOVEMBER 29, 2003

PREPARED BY PRIYA KHANNA M.Sc. M.Ed. LECTURER (II) SCERT

A consultative meeting on Draft Free and Compulsory Education for Children Bill, 2003 was organized by Social Jurist in association with Delhi Labour Union, Indian Social Institute, Delhi Abhibhavak Mahasangh, Faridabad Abhibhavak Ekta Manch, Kirandeep, NAFRE, Municipal Corporation Doctors Association, IAAI Workers Union and NFIW at Indian Social Institute, New Delhi on 29th November, 2003.

Second Draft: 08.01.2004 5

In 2004, the second draft of the bill, drafted after consideration of the feedback to the first draft, was posted on the Education Department website.

Elementary Education Bill: structured approach and minima suggestions

(A note premised on equal access neighbourhood school system guarantee under existing law)6

Gita Dewan Verma | Planner | December 2003

On 10.12.03 Government of India put out a second draft of a Bill to operationalise the Constitutional 86th Amendment guarantee of free and compulsory education. This was discussed on 15.12.03 among officials and civil society, including those who had held on 01.11.03 a seminar around the first draft. Criticism of the draft(s) for not being based on a common school system was central in both discussions, albeit to extent of what particular clauses lacked rather than how the overall architecture might be. A news report of 11.12.03 also had the Minister calling for neighbourhood schools.

This note makes two suggestions – one for structured approach to develop overall architecture of the Bill, the other about the minimum it must say for a common school system – not because of emergent consensus but because this minimum is already guaranteed under another Act of Parliament.

Not being educationist, lawyer or children specialist from any other profession, I am not presuming to suggest content. As a Planner, I consider a structured approach suggestion my privilege and, on account of recent work7 on issues become central to the discourse, a minima suggestion my responsibility. And as one tending to badly behave at seminars, a note is what I can offer. Hence this.8

1. Structured approach – guiding principles / key elements

Guiding principles need to be set out for clarity and also for comparative evaluation of content options. These could be in the nature of constructs such as the following:

  • An elementary education law must be true to the purpose of the Constitutional provision – ie, equal opportunity for education and, through empowerment by it, other Constitutional rights. The Bill must progressively eliminate rather than pragmatically legalise duality in education. Anything else would amount to reducing a promise by Constitution to compromise by law.
  • A central law is needed more as trigger than as model. There already exist provisions designed to implement what has been a Directive Principle for 54 years. The Bill must provide a framework to supplement rather than supplant opportunities in existing state and municipal laws. Anything else would be contrary to the spirit of the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments.
  • For years resources for education have been lost to misguided schemes, profiteering on school sites, etc. The Bill must squarely address itself to plugging leakages in education resources rather than seek to somehow accommodate in residual resource space those disadvantaged by these leakages. Anything else would amount to condoning usurping of education resources.
  • Resources for education need to be viewed in disaggregate terms – school sites and buildings, teachers and teaching facilities, children’s’ bags / books / uniforms / mid-day meals, etc. The Bill must ensure equitable allocation of all resources separately. Anything else would be an exercise in futility since a sum of inequitable parts cannot make up an equitable whole.
  • Application of planning provisions of 73rd/74th Amendments must be guided by their hierarchical planning logic. The Bill must set out processes to eliminate inequities and inefficiencies in resource allocations at all levels rather than just ‘decentralise’ responsibilities. Anything else would be contrary to equity and empowerment goals of 86th and 73rd/74th Amendments.
  • Other issues impinging on elementary education must be central to underlying principles, but might not always be amenable to detail in a central law. The Bill must not bind matters that are better suited to context-specific law / schemes or whose significance in relation to education goals could change over time. Anything else would amount to obfuscation of its core purpose.

Key elements in the overall architecture of a Bill need to be explicated before setting out detailed clauses. Key elements based on principles such as the above could be:

  • Premises – to reflect purpose as well as guiding principles and define elements in terms of common definitions / typologies as well as context, including setting out what is excluded
  • Role of the state in resource allocation management – to ensure, way beyond budget allocations, that all resources invested in education progressively contribute to universalisation, not duality.
  • Role of non-state partners – promoted not as an end in itself but as means to universalisation, meaning that, as a corollary, models that contribute to duality are progressively eliminated.
  • Role of participants (children, teachers and parents) – facilitated through incentives and disincentives, connected to indicators of quality in education rather than enrolment and retention.
  • Role of support providers – thoroughly regulated to remove flavour of favour from and ensure competence and quality in voluntary / activist / expert inputs from those with no direct stakes.
  • Processes – to place the above in one inclusive framework to optimally (rather than pragmatically) orchestrate all roles into synergistic pursuit of the purpose and guiding principles of the legislation.

2. Minima – existing provisions flowing from Delhi Development Act, 1957

An obvious starting point of any discussion on legislating a common school system is the equal access neighbourhood schools schema of Delhi Master Plan drawn up under Delhi Development Act, 1957, an Act of Parliament. In this the principle of equal access is intrinsic to overall aim of ‘balanced and integrated development to take care of present and future growth’ and equity purpose of land policy of large-scale acquisition and is expanded through provisions such as for 25% low-income housing provision in each residential area of 1 lakh population, making urban villages integral part of new schemes, etc. And the concept of neighbourhood facilities is intrinsic to overall principle of hierarchy of city structure: “The housing cluster is built around the nursery school and the tot lot. The primary school, the high school, the Community centre and the District centre are the order of the functional tiers around which the community structure is built up”.

For equal access for all local children within such balanced and integrated development lease conditions require neighbourhood schools to provide 25% free seats (consistent with 25% EWS housing provision in a community) and not to refuse admission to any local student. A key instrument for ensuring equal access neighbourhood schools are provisions governing land resource allocations – 1 nursery school of 0.08 hectares for a housing cluster (2500 population) so as to be within 5-minute walking distance, 1 primary school of 0.4 hectares for a neighbourhood (15,000 population) so as to be within 10-minute walking distance, etc – that provide for all (and only) local students.

Land use allocation is also the starting point of serial violations. On sites meant for smaller schools, bigger schools are set up, leading to excess that local demand cannot sustain. Citywide market tapping allows city-level fee charging. In a vicious cycle, high fees are justified with facilities, even luxuries, not matching local demand and lease conditions for local enrolment are thrown to the winds. The poor among local students are worst affected by exclusion due to commercialization as lease conditions for free seats are flouted with impunity. At the tail end of these resource-hogging serial violations are violations in schools not on planned sites (including government schools set up prior to planned schemes) that serve those excluded and end up having enrolment in excess of standards and space short of standards and often incapable of absorbing investments for durable improvements, with resultant environment hardly conducive to quality learning or teaching and lying at the root of most problems including those relating to enrolment and retention.

It is not possible for the state to provide free and compulsory education for all children and, at the same time, allow education resources to be hogged for exclusive benefit of a few. A Bill premised on the pursuit of this impossibility will serve to abandon rather than implement the 86th Amendment. By the same logic, a demand for a common school system made only on behalf of the poor is flawed since seggregationist approaches cannot serve integrationist purposes and also reduces to pursuit of impossibility unless the corollary demand to end duality in education is made equally forcefully. Both the Bill and its critique must acknowledge that a common school system is not a demand at par with demands apropos girl child, disabled child, working child, poor child, women’s reservations in decentralized processes, etc. It is the demand for a framework to accommodate all else, without which the little pieces being pushed into law will have nowhere to fit. Instead of attempting ab-initio piece-meal solution-seeking from amidst a chaotic collection of universal paradigms of topical currency, those serious about a common school system would do well to consider improving upon, or at least safeguarding, minima already provided by comprehensive and holistic framework-setting schema such as laid out in Delhi Master Plan approved by Parliament.

BILL ON FREE AND COMPULSORY EDUCATION - QUESTIONNAIRE

YOU ARE THE JUDGE!

Please read the Bill and the following questions.  You may exercise five options of answers on a score of 0 to 4, each score signifying as follows:

0- NO

1- NOT CLEAR

2- TO SOME EXTENT

3- TO A GREAT EXTENT

4- YES

S.NO.

QUESTIONS

ANSWERS

1.

Does the Bill intend to eliminate the dual education system learning centers for some and regular schools for others?

 

2.

Does the Bill guarantee equity of educational opportunity?

 

3.

Does the Bill transfer elementary education to the Panchayat Raj Institutions aspromised under 73rd / 74th  

Amendment of Constitution?

 

4.

Does the Bill address the Common school system (CSS) and neighbourhood school system as recently stated by the HRD Minister in the Parliament?

 

5.

Does the Bill give autonomy to the ‘school committee’ accepted under the CSS in the National Policy?

 

6.

Does the Bill make private schools accessible to the poor, the disadvantaged and the disabled in a spirit of offering equity and equal opportunity?

 

7.

Does the Bill prohibit corporal punishment and humiliation to children inflicted by adults in a school?

 

8.

Does the Bill give freedom for innovation and creativity to the academic community and avoid being prescriptive?

 

9.

Does the Bill use the terms such as inclusion, excellence, quality, standard etc?

 

10.

Does the Bill make home language and regional languages as medium of education in all schools at least up to primary level as committed in the NPE and the ‘National Charter for Children 2003’ recently placed in the Parliament by HRD Minister? 

 

11.

Does the Bill reduce the gaps between academics for the ‘talented’ and skills and vocational for the “failed’ as recommended by Ramamurti Report?

 

12.

Does the Bill reduce the possibility of education for children with disabilities by segregations in special schools?

 

13.

Does the Bill avoid defining disability in such a manner so that it does not become a labeling for some children?

 

14.

Does the Bill take into account the UNESCO Salamanca Statement and encourage inclusive education in schools?

 

15.

Does the Bill take into account the other provisions of the Constitution, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995 for covering children up to an appropriate age?

 

16.

Does the Bill guarantee that teachers shall not be used for non-teaching purposes, and the school space shall not be used for purpose other than educational except for polling booths?

 

17.

Does the Bill indicate that the Governments will take full responsibilities of achieving the UEE within stipulated time?

 

18.

Does the Bill make it compulsory for the central and state governments to make funds available for achieving the UEE?

 

19.

Does the Bill make sure that funds for the UEE are not misused and diverted and the ‘whistle blowers’ get adequate protection?

 

20.

Does the Bill specify dates for implementation of different provisions and do not leave them vague and open?

 
 

TOTAL SCORE

 

Total score:   

  • Less than 30: unacceptable and fail
  • 31 to 60: tolerable and debatable
  • 61 to 80: acceptable and pass

Note:  This questionnaire is prepared and circulated by the Social Jurist to collect views of the concerned citizens. It is requested that the reply may kindly be sent to Social Jurist, 479, Lawyers Chambers, Western Wing, Tis Hazari Courts, Delhi-110054 (Contact Person – Ashok Agarwal M-9811101923) or through E-Mail: [email protected] by 31st December 2003.

Draft 25.08.2005 - RIGHT TO EDUCATION BILL 20059

In June 2005, the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) committee drafted the ‘Right to Education Bill' and submitted to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). MHRD sent it to the National Advisory Council (NAC) where Mrs. Sonia Gandhi was the Chairperson. The NAC sent the Bill to the Prime Minister for his observation.

In July 2006, the finance committee and planning commission rejected the Bill citing the lack of funds and a Model bill was sent to states for the making necessary arrangements. (Post-86th amendment, States had already cited lack of funds at State level). The States promptly sent the model bill back to the Centre citing lack of funds. The bill was virtually buried for two years.

Draft February 2008 - RIGHT TO EDUCATIONAL BILL, 200810

In February 2008, the Ministry of Human Resource Development circulated another draft of the bill

In August 2008, the Union Cabinet referred the Right to Education Bill to the Group of Ministers (GoM), a high-powered group of ministers formed to look into operationalising the Fundamental Right to Education.

On October 31 2008, the Union Cabinet cleared a revised draft of the bill, as yet unreleased to the public. The GoM had passed on the draft to the Cabinet earlier that month.

REPORT ON 'CONSULTATIVE MEET ON FREE AND COMPULSORY EDUCATION BILL 200411

DATE : 28.02.04, VENUE : ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS, KOLKATA

After 54 years of India's Independence, education became a Fundamental Right in 2001. It has taken the Government two more years to prepare a draft bill on free and compulsory education for children. The bill has been redrafted twice, the last being in January 2004. We and many other like-minded groups like us went through the bill and found many inherent flaws. There is need for such an Act, but to be really effective, it has to get rid of the lacunae that were observed. In Delhi, an organisation called Social Jurist, headed by advocate Mr. Ashok Agarwal, is actively fighting against this bill. We didn't want this issue to be confined to a restricted circle and thought of organising a round table to know what various opinion makers of the city think about it.

Note of 04 May 2004: FREE SEATS CONDITION IN DELHI SCHOOLS COMMON SCHOOL SYSTEM CONTEXT IMPERATIVES AND POSSIBILITIES

About enforcing free seats in compliance of court order for progressive implementation of CSS, sent to respondents, officials / groups leading the education bill discussions, co-petitioners, etc.

There have been several developments since Delhi High Court ordered enforcement of the free seats condition in Delhi schools. This note outlines from the legal context of this condition, which flows not from education law but from the Master Plan for Delhi, a different perspective on the issue.

Delhi Master Plan provisions for Common School System

The Master Plan for Delhi (MPD) sets out a schema for equal access neighbourhood schools, consistent with Common School System (CSS) (through parity for teachers, tuition-free education for all, integration of roles and a neighbourhood school plan) recommended by Kothari Commission, about which there is consensus.12 The MPD CSS provides legal strength to this consensus since land in Delhi, irrespective of who owns or allots it, cannot be used in contravention of MPD under Delhi Development Act.

MPD essentially stipulates numbers of various levels of schools with population for which they are to be located and standards for buildings, playgrounds, parking, etc.13 These provisions are designed to ensure adequate schools for all and mainly local population, a central principle of CSS, with further support from the lease condition requiring schools to not refuse admission to local students and, consistent with MPD provision for 25% housing for the poor in the local community, the condition for 25% free seats.

Free seats condition in context of MPD CSS

It is erroneous to connect the free seats condition to cheap land allotment (which arises from MPD (1962) assessment of urgency to develop schools) since equal access neighbourhood schools are mandatory under MPD CSS irrespective of price charged for school sites. The free seats condition can be connected only to CSS local enrollment objectives, also in view of Kothari Commission CSS recommendation of, ultimately, tuition-free education for all in neighbourhood schools. For integration in CSS the Commission recommended a well planned long-term approach, without which simplistic enforcement of free seats will not serve CSS goals, and under MPD also the free seats condition on its own has little meaning – if the poor are resettled faraway in violation of MPD they cannot benefit from it without personal travel / time costs and energy / environmental costs of increased traffic, if sites are mis-allotted / misused to encourage city-wide competitive enrollment then local, especially poor, students get left out, etc.

Counter-productivity of enforcing free seats in isolation

Developments following recent orders show attempts to enforce free seats in isolation are conflict-prone:

  • Some schools have made their disinclination to teach the poor obvious, including in the Supreme Court. This position, contrary to the consensus on CSS, shows schools as a class in poor light, locks schools and poor students in conflict and drags other students into this with the suggestion that they will be burdened by the favour to the poor, even as the truth is that schools and their students that have benefited at cost of rights of local communities, especially (but not limited to) poor students.
  • On behalf of the poor, the High Court has been approached on compliance and some organizations are getting students, such as in faraway resettlement colonies around which there are no or few private schools, to demand free seats. This demand, short of CSS education rights of those making it and possible to meet only by infringing rights of local students around schools elsewhere to which it is made, takes a beggarly position that reinforces the patronizing one being taken by some schools
  • Most unfortunate is the authorities’ response. What has happened is that GNCTD has been issuing essentiality certificates, upgradation permissions, etc, in violation of MPD CSS, both GNCTD and MCD have been running schools regardless of it, and DDA has been allotting sites and allowing their use in disregard of MPD. The lapses have been serious and now authorities appear to be trying to sweep them under the carpet, at the cost of allowing the free seats condition to become ‘controversial’ and, more significantly, disconnecting it from CSS on which there is consensus.

Enforcing free seats conditions with a view to progressive implementation of CSS

Extending enforcement of free seats in compliance of court orders to progressive implementation of CSS, besides being an imperative of planning law as well as of consensus in principle on CSS (also central to Education Bill discussions), can potentially provide elbow room to break the emergent deadlock in Delhi. Basic premises and imperatives and illustrative possibilities of this approach are outlined here:

  • Basic premises
    1. Enforcement of free seats condition of land allotment must further the objectives of the statutory land use provisions for CSS from which it flows
    2. Exclusive dialogue between select schools and some authorities must give way to one involving all CSS parties, especially the aggrieved, viz, communities including, but not limited to, the poor
    3. City-wide / school-centric attempts must give way to area level / community-based ones, for which MPD provides a schema with legal basis for progressive implementation of CSS.
  • Imperatives / boundaries of flexibility
    1. The courts have made it clear that the free seats condition for land allotment cannot be violated. Likewise, land allotment conditions for local enrollment, type of school, etc, cannot be violated.
    2. Land allotment conditions as well as other procedural regimes (eg, essentiality / upgradation permissions, taxation categorization, etc) must also conform to MPD and approved layout plans.
    3. MPD provisions govern land use and are mandatory irrespective of who owns or allots the land and all (including government) schools must conform to MPD standards for school sites.
    4. For the community (including, but not limited to, students and poor) MPD CSS benefits are entitlements, not open to modification or interpretation as favour by schools and/or authorities.
    5. For the community it is irrelevant who is responsible for MPD CSS violations and if individual violations are penalized or condoned, as long as entitlements are restored at community level.
    6. For public confidence in education providers authorities and schools can not be seen as being in any sort of ‘nexus’ about denial of CSS entitlements of the community.
  • Illustrative possibilities14
    1. Legitimate flexibility is possible in matters currently seeing attempts to shirk legal obligations:
      • Instead of trying to simplistically ‘adjust’ the percentage of free seats to 20%, 15%, etc, flexibility could be worked out to ensure overall percentage / equivalent of 25% for the local community, with incentives and penalties for variations in individual cases.
      • Instead of ‘alternatives’ like separate classes for the poor after school hours at the whim of individual schools, options equivalent to 25% free seats could be formalized, especially in partnership with government schools, for progressive implementation of CSS.
      • Instead of fee hikes or government subsidies to ‘finance’ free seats, etc, differential fee for non-local and local enrollment could be considered in pursuit of statutory objectives of local enrollment underlying the CSS concept.
    2. Compliance of orders for free seats can be used to put in place mechanisms required by MPD / recommended by Kothari Commission for progressive implementation of CSS, such as for:
      • Area-based dialogue among all communities, schools and authorities for community-specific plans for compliance apropos free seats as well as for a plan for phased enforcement of CSS
      • Assessment of, besides free seats condition violations, connected MPD CSS violations with a view to rectifying their causes and for clarity in community-specific phased plans for CSS.
      • Partnerships for reducing differences among / ensuring neccessary conditions in all CSS schools and also to explore possibilities for equivalents to 25% free seats in specific contexts.
      • Flexibility (within boundaries of area level MPD CSS imperatives) for protecting individuality of schools, which can also throw up innovations apropos free seats, besides for CSS.
      • Immediate commitments to (a) convergence of all school education interventions in a community in a common CSS plan, (b) time-bound implementation of local enrollment, and (c) starter initiatives for confidence building, eg, summer camps for poor students, etc.

Annexure-1: Excerpts from Kothari Commission Report on school education (1964-66)

10.05. The Creation of the Common School System of Public EducationThe main problem before the country is to evolve a common school system of public education which will cover all parts of the country and all stages of school education and strive to provide equality of access to all children. This system will include all schools conducted by government and local authorities and all recognized and aided private schools. It should be maintained at an adequate level of quality and efficiency so that no parent would ordinarily feel any need to send his child to the institutions outside the system, such as independent or unrecognized schools. This is the goal which the country should strive to reach and a number of steps will have to be taken for its early realization.

(1) The first is to ensure that the undesirable discrimination that now exists between teachers working under different managements – government, local authority and private organizations – should be done away with. This has been discussed more fully elsewhere and ……

(2) The ultimate goal should be to provide tuition-free education at the school stage. From this point of view, tuition fees will have to be abolished in a phased programme – fees at the primary stage being abolished at the end of the Fourth Plan and those at the lower secondary stage by the end of the Fifth Plan. This has been discussed more fully elsewhere.

(3) The roles of local bodies and private organizations in school education should be properly integrated with those of the State Governments to ensure that the minimum conditions necessary for the successful working of educational institutions are provided in every institution within the common system of public education, irrespective of its management. For instance, every such institution should be intimately involved with its local community. Each should be regarded as an individuality and given adequate freedom. A continuous attempt should also be made to develop each school to the best extent possible in accordance with a plan to be prepared and implemented jointly by the management, parents, teachers and students, and the Department; and every institution should be assured of adequate financial support to discharge its responsibilities to its student body.

(4) The neighbourhood school plan should be adopted as a step towards eliminating the segregation that now takes place between the schools for the poor and the underprivileged classes and those for the rich and the privileged ones.

…………..

10.19. The Neighbourhood Schools. We drew attention earlier to the social segregation that now takes place in our primary and secondary schools and pointed out that such segregation should be eliminated if education is to be made a powerful instrument of national development in general, and social and national integration in particular. From this point of view we recommend the ultimate adoption of the ‘neighbourhood school concept’ first at the lower primary stage and then at the higher primary. The neighbourhood school should be attended by all children in the neighbourhood irrespective of caste, creed, community, religion, economic condition or social status, so that there would be no segregation in schools. Apart from social and national integration, two other important arguments can be advanced in support of the proposal. In the first place, a neighbourhood school will provide ‘good’ education to children because sharing life with the common people is, in our opinion, an essential ingredient of good education. Secondly, the establishment of such schools will compel the rich, privileged and powerful classes to take an interest in the system of public education and thereby bring about its early improvement.

10.20 We are of the view that the neighbourhood school concept should be adopted as a long term goal, to be reached in a well-planned programme spread over the next 20 years. The strategy for its adoption is as follows:

(1) During the next ten years, two programmes should be pursued side by side. The first is to improve all primary schools to a minimum level prescribed and to raise about ten per cent of them to a higher standard of quality.

(2) Simultaneously the neighbourhood school system should be introduced at the lower primary stage, as a pilot project, in a few areas where public opinion is favourable to the acceptance of the proposal.

Annexure-2: Excerpts from revised MPD-2001 relating to provisions and standards for schools

“Norms have been worked out for the provision of adequate educational facilities at various levels considering the age-group projections and other relevant considerations. In Primary and Secondary schools and colleges, separate norms for reservation of playfield areas in the schools have been given which must be indicated in the detail layout plans. In case of low-income communities, the space for Nursery school shall be utilized for crèche which could be run by public, private or voluntary agencies. Specific areas have been reserved for city level integrated schools to accommodate central schools and public schools. Planning standards for educational facilities are given below:

(a) Pre-primary, Nursery school – 1 for 2500 population

Area per school

0.08 ha

Pre-primary / Nursery school to be located near a park

 
(b) Primary School (Class I to V) – 1 for 5,000 population

Strength of the school

500 students

Area per school

0.4 ha

School building area

0.20 ha

Play field area with a minimum of 18m x 36m …

 
(c) SeniorSecondary School (VI to XII) – 1 for 7500 population

Strength of the school

1000 students

Area per school

1.60 ha

School building area

0.60 ha

Play field area with a minimum of 68m x 126m …

 
(d) Integrated school without hostel facility (Class I to XII) – 1 for 90,000 to 1,00,000 population

Strength of the school

1500 students

Area per school

3.50 ha

School building area

0.70 ha

Play field area

2.50 ha

Parking area

0.30 ha

(e) Integrated school with hostel facility – 1 for 90,000 to 1,00,000 population

Strength of the school

1000 students

Area per school

3.90 ha

School building area

0.70 ha

Play field area

2.50 ha

Parking area

0.30 ha

Residential, hostel area

0.40 ha

(f) School for handicapped – 1 for 45,000 population

Strength of the school

400 students

Area per school

0.50 ha

School building area

0.20 ha

Play field area

0.30 ha

Bill No. LXV of 2008 - THE RIGHT OF CHILDREN TO FREE AND COMPULSORY EDUCATION BILL, 200815

On December 15 2008, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha and released to the public on the Rajya Sabha website.

  • 1. Source: Azim Premji Foundation, http://azimpremjifoundation.org/Bills
  • 2. also has http://skel.architexturez.net/doc/az-cf-21862 as a mis-filed document
  • 3.

    The panel of speakers comprised of Mr. Anand Sarup, Chairman, Task Force for improvement in the System of Education, Prof. Madhu Dandvate, Former Union Minister, Prof. Anil Sadgopal, Professor of Education at DelhiUniversity, Mr. B.D. Sharma, Mr. Surender Mohan and Mr. Sanjiv Kaura, National Convener, NAFRE.

    Educationist, school and college teachers, special educators, architects, journalists, parents and children from resettlement colonies and lawyers etc. attended the meeting

    CONCEPT OF COMMON SCHOOL SYSTEM (CSS)

    The concept of Common School System or NeighbourhoodSchool first came into being in 19th century and since then it has been in some form or the other in many nations such as USA, China, Russia etc. CSS envisions a system that will impart equitable quality of Education in terms of infrastructure resources, professional quality of teachers, diversified and flexible curriculum and holistic and child-centered pedagogy to all children irrespective of socio-economic, gender and other differences. Though it is a decentralized and community controlled system, financial and other needs will be the obligation of the State.

    In India, the concept of CSS was introduced by Kothari Commission (1964-66) as a tool for social transformation. Later, it was explicitly mentioned in 1968, 1986 Education Policies. Though the CABE Committee in 1988 laid down clear ten-year phases wise programme for its implementation and was also strongly recommended by Ramamurti Committee in 1990 but the implementation of CSS, however, still remains a cherished dream.

    The weakness of existing Education System is that quality education instead of being available to all children from every stratum of society is available only to a small minority, which is usually selected on the basis of its capacity to bear the educational expenses and a vast majority of children receive sub-standard education. This position is undemocratic and inconsistent with the ideal of an egalitarian society. Thus, the establishment of CSS is necessary to bring different social classes and groups together and to promote an emergence of an egalitarian and integrated society.

    The meeting on CSS began with the welcome note by Mr. Ashok Agrawal, Convener, Social Jurist. He gave a brief outline of the Free and Compulsory Education for Children Bill, 2003 and it various demerits.

    The Bill is an attempt to operationalise the 93rd Constitutional Amendment (earlier 86th Amendment) that made free and compulsory education for all children between 6 & 14 years of age, a fundamental right.

    One of the biggest flaws in the bill is that there is no mention of any provision of education for children below 6 and above 14 years of age. Another drawback is that the draft Bill proposes an upper limit of 20% admission quota for poor children in recognized schools, which include private schools, but does not specify minimum percentage of reserved seats. The Bill is also not clear on how this 20% reservation will be ensured. The Bill grants this reservation to children falling below poverty line (BPL) under public distribution system (PDS) but in metropolitan cities many children belonging to very poor families do not qualify BPL as minimum wages in such cities is more than that prescribed in the poverty parameters. The Bill talks about various Learning Centers for educating poor children by the centers presently running are hardly providing quality education. There is also uncertainty in the date of implementation of the Bill as it states that the implementation will be decided by the Government and thus gives arbitrary powers to the Govt. The Convener, Social Jurist, thus stressed that the Bill should be redrafted on the basis of Good Quality Common School System.

    Opening remarks by Mr. Anand Sarup, Chairman, Task Force for improvement in the System of Education followed the welcome note. Mr. Sarup briefly outlined issues to be looked after by Task Force such as commercialization of education, Budget Allocation, Process, Curriculum and Content of Education, Educational Backwardness, Autonomy and Accountability in the Education System and Vocational Education. He stressed the urgency of removing ‘Apartheid’ in Education System.

    Prof. Madhu Dandvate, in his Key Speech stressed that development and progress of any nation is dependent on improvement in education system. He supported this statement by brining out the fact that successful implementation of population control techniques was possible in States having high literacy. Thus, the establishment of CSS will not only increase the literacy rate but will also provide quality education to all sections of society. He further added that before establishment of CSS, Neighbourhood Schools should be established so that large numbers of people have an access to education. To achieve this, the allocation of resources should be in accordance with the requirement. Prof. Dandvate held the view that curriculum should reflect a high and positive correlation between education and life. Thus, the world of work should be related to the world of knowledge. Gender inequity, accordance to prof. Dandvate is another obstacle in achieving the objectives of Education. A high dropout rate among girls reflects this fact.

    Prof. Anil Sadgopal delivered keynote and Presentation on CSS. He pointed out that poor state of Education System is due to faulty Educational Policies implemented so far. He stressed that there are large number of children in the age group of 6-14 years who are out of education system. He strongly recommended the implementation of CSS to achieve the aims and objectives of UEE. He briefly described the recommendations given by various committees and policies starting from the concept of Basic Education, 1937 to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2003.

    CSS, according to Prof. Sadgopal, follows the principle behind Basic Education as it aims to relate the world of knowledge with world of work at pedagogical level as National System. Concept of CSS was first introduced by Kathari Commission and was also advocated in the subsequent NPE, 1968.

    In 1985, the document, challenges of Education – A Policy Perspective was released which did not mention CSS, instead laid the foundation for setting up parallel streams of low quality and low budget Non Formal Education (NFE) on one hand and pace setting model and Navodaya Schools on the other. Though NPE, 1986 did propose the establishment of CSS, POA, 1986 made no reference to CSS but laid down a detailed strategy for implementing NFE.

    In 1988, The Central Authority Board of Education, CABE appointed a committee on CSS which proposed a ten year, phase wise programme for reconstruction of present education system into CSS but unfortunately this programme remained on papers. A 17 member Acharya Ramamurti Committee appointed in 1990 to review NPE, 1986 considered the development of CSS to be very important component of overall strategy for securing equity and social justice in education. These recommendations were, however, rejected in 1992 by CABE while reviewing Ramamurti Committee. The programme of Action (POA), 1992 revised NPE on the lines of ‘Education for All’ (EFA) conference organized by UNICEF, UNESCO, UNDP and the World Bank, held that Jomtien, Thailand mentioned nothing about CSS.

    District Primary Education Programme (DPEP), 1995 and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), 2000 further strengthened the implementation of NFE Centres and Alternative Schools, which impart low quality Education to poor children. 86th Constitutional Amendment and Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2003 has distorted Article 45 by delinking ECCE and pre-primary education from elementary education and has legitimized parallel layers of education that includes NFE, NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling) and EGS (Education Guarantee Scheme). Thus, the need of hour is to establish CSS. That is the only solution to remove disparity, discontentment and disempowerment of the vast majority of people in India.

    The next speaker, Mr. B.D. Sharma, also stressed the need for correlation between work and education. He gave the analogy between a nation and family and emphasized that our nation should work like a family. Just as a child and his education is the first consideration in a family, similarly Education should be the top priority of a nation. Concept of ‘equity’ according to him, is nearly abolished and ‘statistical equity’ has taken its place. He gave several examples in support of the fact that primary focus of any education system should be child. He also talked about gender inequity and supported the view that people belonging lower and middle class should come forward to raise their voice against all kinds of discrimination in education.

    The next speaker, Mr. Surender Mohan, also shared this view. He gave instances reflecting how upper class people try to curb the progress of middle and lower class and opined that middle class can be termed as the ‘unconcerned class’. The only option, according to him is that the poor and middle class should together protest against this growing ‘apartheid’ in education system.

    The last speaker of the meeting was Mr. Sanjiv Kaura, National Convener, National Alliance for Right to Education and Equity (NAFRE) who gave a presentation on the need for implementing CSS at this juncture. NAFRE has launched CSS Movement in 2003 on Quit India Movement day (8th August) in 15 States and successfully came out with the slogan ‘Sabko Shiksha Samaan Shiksha’.

    He spoke about various myths about CSS. One popular myth, according to Mr. Kaura is that private schools do very good work whereas in reality, many private schools are nothing more than teaching shops. He held the view that CSS is the only answer to most of the problems related to present education system. Any other solution would be mere patchwork. The general opinion that CSS is difficult to establish in country like India is a myth. He maintained that CSS is not an utopian idea as the road map of its implementation is very clear. Most important, it is very cheap (In terms of GDP percentages) to provide equal quality education through CSS. Additionally, CSS has been operationalised in most countries of the world following varying ideological views. He stressed that the Task Force should strongly recommend education reforms keeping CSS as the defining focal point.

    During the open session, people from various professions and various parts of the country expressed their views on CSS. Mr. Noor Mohammad who represented a small basti in Delhi expressed his discontent for poor quality of education for children of the basti.

    Special Educators too favourved the implementation of CSS and strongly recommended that disabled children should also be included in Common Schools. Teachers representing both Government and private schools stressed that condition of existing schools, particularly of Government schools, should be immediately improved. Unless quality education is provided, SSA would fail to address the crying needs of the education system.

    Ms. Geeta Diwan Verma, a Town Planner emphasized on analysing of failure of implementation of previous policies before launching fresh initiatives. She stressed that while implementing any policy ‘land law’ should be referred to prevent commercialization of education.

    Mr. Ashok Tangade, Regional Convener, NAFRE, who came all the way from a small village in Beed District in Maharashtra spoke about various problems that arise because of English as a medium of Education. He added that since many untrained teachers are teaching in village schools, the quality of education being imparted is very poor. He strongly held the view that teacher teaching in GovernmentSchool should send their children to Government schools only.

    At the end, Ms. Savita Aggarwal who is a lawyer gave Vote of Thanks. She spoke about the various problems that Government schools are facing today and about the inequity in education system.

    The meeting ended with a consensus that in order to remove the growing apartheid in education, it is essential to provide equity in education and educational opportunities. This would build a cohesive and secular society.

    - THE END -

  • 4.

    The key speakers of the meeting were Sh.Anand Sarup, Chairman, Task Force for Improvement in the System of Education; Sh. Madan M. Jha; Sh.D.K.Aggarwal, Senior advocate and President of All India Lawyers’ Union, Delhi and Prof. Abu Bakkar, Chairman, Delhi Minority Commission. Educationists, School and College Teachers, Representatives of Parents’ Associations, Journalists, Lawyers and Social Workers attended the meeting.

    The meeting was a follow up of the previous consultative meeting on Common School System (CSS), organized by Social Jurist at Indian Law Institute, New Delhi on 1st November, 2003 which ended with a consensus that in order to remove the growing apartheid in education system, Free and Compulsory Education for Children Bill should be redrafted on the basis of good quality CSS which is the only system that can provide equity in education and educational opportunities.

    The meeting on Draft Free and Compulsory Education for Children Bill, 2003 began with a welcome note by Mr. Ashok Agarwal, Convener, Social Jurist. Describing the various flaws in the Bill, he stressed that since the Bill would be the first central legislation on school education, it will have a significant and deep impact on education system. Thus, it is essential to compel the government to redraft the Bill. He added that the Bill would operate to keep the majority of the children out of formal school system and it will enhance inequity in education system by legalizing poor quality EGS Centres and Open Schooling Centres for poor children. Moreover, more than 70 percent of it has been lifted from Compulsory Education legislations already existing in many States and UnionTerritories and have failed to bring any improvement in the education system and thus, no desirable change can be expected from this Bill. Mr.Agarwal stressed that Bill is required to be rejected outright and a comprehensive law should be formulated keeping in mind the needs of children of all sections of society.

    Welcome note was followed by speech of Sh.Anand Sarup, Chairman, Task Force for Improvement in the System of Education. Democracy, according to Mr.Sarup cannot be sustained without quality education and the idea of UEE is non-negotiable. Referring to the Evaluation study on Impact of Non-Formal Education (NFE) by Programme Evaluation Organization, Planning Commission, Govt.Of India, Mr.Sarup informed that NFE system has not made any significant contribution to the realization of UEE and Elementary Education needs to be delivered primarily through the Formal Education System. He stressed that curriculum should be correlated with the world of work so that it becomes meaningful both for the child and parents. Mr. Sarup stressed that the present education system is in a state on inertia and a change in the whole education system is imperative. He held the view that economic power translates into political power. Thus, the policy makers themselves receive education from so called elite and english medium schools, which provide no opportunity of interaction with children belonging to poor families. Thus, segregation of education based on socio-economic status has to be stopped. Later in the meeting, Mr.Sarup proposed the formation of a “Draft Committee” to negotiate with Secretary, Elementary Education, Govt. of India.

    The speech of Mr.Madan M. Jha was focused on ‘Inclusive Education’. He gave a brief outline about the emergence of Inclusive Education. The concept of Inclusive Education came in 19th century but the focus was mainly on the academic excellence of few people of society. Disability, at that time was treated as a defect. In India, Sargent Report (1944) was the first report to recommend integrated education for handicapped children. Later, Kothari Commission (1966), National Policy on Education (1986) and Ramamurti Committee (1990) recommended that education system should include all children irrespective of any difference including disability. Inclusive Education is based on the theme ‘all learn together’. Mr. Jha recommended that the concept of inclusive education should be kept in mind while redrafting the Bill.

    Sh.D.K.Aggarwal, Senior advocate and President of All India Lawyers’ Union, Delhi

    was the next speaker. He expressed discontent on the irrelevance of the present education system for poor people. Mr.Aggarwal reminded that way back in 1882 Indians had pleaded Britishers to form a comprehensive education plan for all sections of society. But the present education system still seems to be following the concept of Downward Filteration Theory given by Macaulay in the 1835 which aimed at providing good education only to selected few people in society.

    Diagrammatic Representation of Inequity in Education System

    Mr.Aggrawal pointed that compulsory education legislations already exist in 20 States/UTs but so far no improvement has been made in the education system and this implies the inevitability of failure of this Bill. Even PIL may not be effective and the only option, according to Mr.Aggrawal is ‘Jan Andolan’or a mass revolt. He listed out three major flaws in the Bill. The first major flaw is that the date of implementation of Bill, norms and type of education to be imparted is left to the discretion of the government. Secondly, the Bill has no provision of accountability or penalty for government officials who would fail to perform their duty but the Bill provides penalty against parents/guardians who will not send their children to the school. The major flaw in the Bill, according to Mr. Aggrawal is that it clearly reflects the duality between rich and poor. The Bill provides three kinds of school depending on socio-economic status of the children-‘Regular Schools’ for upper and middle class people, EGS Centres/Alternate Schools’ for poor people and ‘Open Schooling Centres’for very poor people. This kind of tripartite education system will enhance disparity in society. Thus, Mr. Aggrawal strongly recommended that people should collectively raise their voice against the Bill and compel the government to reject it.

    Professor Abu Bakkar, Chairman, Delhi Minority Commission also supported the view that Bill is severely flawed. He stressed that it is based on distorted concepts of Education, School and Child. The aim of education is to promote all round development of a child but EGS centers/Alternate Schools and Open Schooling Centres proposed by the Bill cannot fulfill this aim and thus cannot provide education to the child. The Bill seems to distort the concept of ‘childhood’ as well. Development of a child, according to Prof. Bakkar, should take place in a planned environment arranged sequentially keeping in mind needs of the child but Alternate and Open Schooling Centres seems to violate child’s concept and concept of a school. He stressed that education is an important factor for economic development and serious measures should be taken by the government to improve the present condition of the education system.

    The Open Session began with the presentation on ‘Quality Education’ by Mr. Rakesh Kapoor.He emphasized that the present education system is not providing quality education. By encouraging rote learning, it is demotivating children. Education should be provided in such a manner that the child gets intrinsically motivated to learn.

    Mr. V. K. Kathpalia, Vice-President of Delhi Abhibhavak Mahasangh agreed that the only option left is ‘Jan Andolan’. He shared his experiences about several such successful revolts and stressed that the Bill can be rejected only if people raise their voice against it together.

    Mr. O. P. Sharma, Advocate and President of Faridabad Abhibhavak Ekta Manch condemned the bill and strongly pointed out that it does not protect rights of children. His views were shared and agreed upon by other lawyers as well.

    A representative of Pratham, a NGO working in the field of Education for poor children emphasized that Bill does not give any definition of ‘Education’ and stressed that qualitative aspects of achievement and accountability of the appropriate authorities should be mentioned in the Bill.

    Prof. S. P. Ruhela, eminent sociologist emphasized that principals of Basic Education should form the basis of Education Policies and stressed that there should be a provision for intervention of community members in the education system.

    The Vote of Thanks was delivered by Mr. Ashok Agarwal, Convener, Social Jurist. He said that the meeting provided a platform for further plan of action.

    At the end of Consultative Meeting, all the participants held strong view that the Draft Free and Compulsory Education for Children Bill, 2003 is full of flaws and Government should be compelled to redraft it and make a comprehensive legislation on school education.

  • 5. Source: Azim Premji Foundation, http://azimpremjifoundation.org/Bills
  • 6. (This document was sent to various offciials and names of those officials are at http://skel.architexturez.net/pst/8664f074-e639-4473-a22f-404d894f177e)
  • 7. Since 2000 I am consultant to citizens’ groups (in bastis, urban villages and flats) seeking implementation of equal access neighbourhood schools under Delhi Master Plan, for which a joint petition has now been filed in High Court. In 1999 I put together for groups in slums in Indore a critique (in form of a booklet and an exhibition) of schemes to close existing schools and open community-hall schools in slums and utilize school sites for revenue generation. In 1996-1997 as senior consultant on the (commissioned) impact study of city-wide slum upgrading in Vizag, Vijaywada and Indore I reported that non-formal education was not working. There are references to all this and more in my book Slumming India, published by Penguin India in 2002.
  • 8. I am sending this note to Joint Secretary (HRD-EE) and to Chairperson of GoI Task Force for Improvement in the System of Education, and also to organisers of the discussions of 01.11.03 and 15.12.03. I am also posting this on the web on a dedicated list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/eebill [common school system based elementary education law: space for suggestions premised on already existing law, such as equal access neighbourhood school provisions of Delhi Master Plan]. If others use the list for serious and focussed discussion I will also post on it more detailed notes, work mentioned, updates on continuing engagements, etc.
  • 9. Source: Azim Premji Foundation, http://azimpremjifoundation.org/Bills
  • 10. Source: Azim Premji Foundation, http://azimpremjifoundation.org/Bills
  • 11.

    On the 28th of February, 55 enthusiastic people got together and what followed was a highly charged and engaging session, moderated by renowned journalist Mr. Sunanda K. Datta-Ray. The name of the 19 active speakers on that day were :

    1. Mr. Soumitra Basu, Indian Institute of Marxist Studies
    2. Dr. Bhabesh Moitra, former Principal, Teachers' TrainingCollege
    3. Prof. Ranju Gopal Mukerjee, Chairman, Rabindra Mukta Vidyalaya
    4. Mr. Brendan MacCarthaigh, SERVE
    5. Mr. Poromesh Acharya, Educationist
    6. Dr. Bratin Chattopadhyay, CAREER, Sriniketan
    7. Prof. Meher Engineer, former Director, Bose Institute
    8. Prof. Sougata Roy, MLA
    9. Mr. Rabin Deb, Chief WHIP, Left Front
    10. Ms. Jeeja Ghosh, Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy
    11. Dr. Samar Bagchi, Kishore Bharati Development Society
    12. Mr. Manas Sinha, Self-advocate
    13. Prof. Abhijit Mookherjee, Dean, S.N. Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences
    14. Mr. Utthanpada Samanta, former DI, South 24 Parganas
    15. Mr. Pradip Bhattacharya, Vice President, West Bengal Pradesh Congress
    16. Mr. Uttam Sengupta, The Telegraph
    17. Dr. Amiya Kr. Bagchi, Director, IDSK
    18. Mr. Indranath Bandyopadhyay, Joint Secretary, West Bengal Democratic Writers' and Artists' Association
    19. Mr. Ashok Agarwal (Advocate), Convenor, Social Jurist

    In brief, this is what they said or opined :

    Soumitra Basu

    • The Bill should not be scrapped completely. It is amenable to amendments.
    • From civil society point of view, the Bill seems too good and liberal - not expected from a fascist Government.
    • This is a feel-good Bill. Many good things are touted here but the problem is if the things are not properly implemented, who will be held responsible? 'Accountability' is not properly addressed.

    Bhabesh Moitra

    • This Bill is a retrograde step. This will help in accentuating discrimination. There is problem in the section "…as the State……..shall determine"
    • Who is the "appropriate Government"? Responsibility of the State government has not been consciously mentioned here.
    • The term 'universal' is missing in the Bill.
    • Literacy for the masses and education for the classes- this has to be abolished.
    • The Central government may render financial assistance, and shall render technical assistance (through National Resource Institutions)- there is a catch in the usage of the terms.
    • Parent's compulsion or penalty should not be there. Rather Government should provide amenities like proper teaching facilities, food, etc Attitude of Government is not goal oriented. In Singapore and China there is no such compulsion, yet the enrollment rate is very high.

    Ranju Gopal Mukerjee

    • We cannot expect that the 'political will' will improve. In the present political context, the Bill may be dangerous.
    • Minimum facilities are often absent in many schools. In girls' schools, if there is no toilet, push out and drop out cannot be prevented. Many such provisions are kept under the desirable list. In transitional schools, toilet has not been included even in desirable list.
    • The manner in which the Bill has been prepared is undemocratic in nature. In framing the Bill, CABE (Central Board of Advisory Education) should be consulted.
    • UGC Report February 1978 - "ours is a dual society…..power in hands of a small class…..there is a vested interest in not providing education to all".
    • A strong jan andolan is needed to create pressure on the Government to change the Bill.

    Brendan MacCarthaigh

    • Education in its present form is not education at all.
    • The difference in treatment of those who can afford and those who cannot afford is quite alarming. Less and less money is being offered for the education of the poor.
    • Free education is not actually free. People have to pay a lot. Sarva Siksha Abhiyan is a farce.

    Poromesh Acharya

    • There cannot be a Bill without defining education.
    • Functional literacy is stressed now-a-days - it is ok till primary level but not elementary stage.
    • SSKs and transitional schools just make children functionally literate. This type of literacy never challenges the power structure.
    • No country other than Scandinavian countries has been able to provide equal educational opportunities.
    • China, Japan and America's spending on education is more or less same as by India. India is not spending less but the point is to spend well.
    • The present Bill is against NPE 1986. Directive Principle is much more democratic since it did not mention dual track. The present Bill is legitimising multi track system.
    • Compulsion and right does not go together.
    • There is no scope of decentralisation in the Bill. The spirit of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) have been thrown out.
    • Inspection system is not proper. It should be academic inspection and not only administrative inspection.

    Meher Engineer

    • Tapas Majumdar Committee Report is well framed and should be considered.
    • Separate facilities are inherently unequal.
    • We have right to equality and we must have equal education.
    • For formal schools there are teachers, for transitional schools there are instructors. So the difference of treatment is quite obvious.

    Bratin Chattopadhyay

    • Is there need of any act on education? The purpose is not clear in the Bill.
    • The term 'competent authority' is frequently used in the Bill. What is meant by being competent is not clearly defined here.
    • The accountability of parents is very clearly mentioned here. But it is a teacher in a classroom who will have to conform to the dictums flowing from NCERT down to block level.

    Sougata Roy

    • There is no point in throwing away the Bill. Those who are in Government will have to look for solutions.
    • Central intervention in education to this extent is appreciable.
    • In West Bengal there are 52,000 primary schools and gross enrollment is over 100%. And drop out rate is also high - 30% to 40%.
    • Only 6000 of these schools provide mid day meals. 10-15,000 schools have no drinking water, 20,000 schools have no toilet.
    • Rajiv Gandhi was criticised for introducing NFE. Now Distance Learning is seen as a viable alternative as all children cannot be put to school.
    • There is no legitimisation of child labour and centralised control in the Bill.
    • The timing of the discussion is premature because the Parliament is dissolved. The Bill serves the purpose of bringing more children in the education network. Finding faults in the Bill is not the right thing.

    Rabin Deb

    • Budgetary allocation for education is getting reduced.
    • There should be discussion on the Bill and it is not an isolated affair. Public opinion should be formed.
    • Government is withdrawing from their responsibility of spending on welfare. Education for all is the responsibility of the Government.

    Jeeja Ghosh

    • In PWD Act free education is for children up to the age of 18. The Bill has contradicted this provision.
    • The thing that has to be looked into is that what infrastructure is needed for effective inclusion.
    • Children with special needs often work without proper infrastructure which takes them nowhere.

    Samar Bagchi

    • Must prepare an alternative to this Bill.
    • The present type of education alienates the person from the context.
    • In this Bill there is nothing regarding the medium of instruction.

    Manas Sinha

    • Sub clause 2 under clause 1 - 'except Jammu and Kashmir' - why J & K has been excluded?
    • 'Prescribed manner' is used in many places. This term means 'rules to be framed'. So unless it is made it cannot be used and be effective.
    • Summary trial as mentioned in clause 34 is objectionable.
    • Under clause 40, there is mention of protection of action taken in good faith. But why this protection? Are these people above law?

    Abhijit Mookerjee

    • Education is about pedagogy.
    • Why second rate education is given to those who cannot afford?
    • Initially it is said that a child in transitional schools won't be there for more than three years. But in the next para, there is a possibility of extending the time period indefinitely.

    Utthanpada Samanta

    • Education is not really free. Parents have to incur many cost relating to education.
    • Section 35 sub clause 3 - children can get admitted in fee-paying schools only if they satisfy what the school requires.
    •  This Bill has officially recognised three types of schools and transitional schools can continue indefinitely.

    Pradip Bhattacharya

    • The Bill should not be out rightly rejected. Some portions of the bill are relevant.
    • Compulsory education and free education is not the same.
    • Who are the people who will implement the bill at the ground level?
    • The criteria for identifying families living below poverty line are fluctuating. So, we have to really think in depth, define things and its implication.

    Uttam Sengupta

    • Is there any need for such a bill to implement free and compulsory education? The successive governments have failed to materialise UEE, mid-day meal scheme etc. Now they are pledging to implement this bill. What is the extra step the government will take which it didn't take earlier.
    • The bill is silent on how to create infrastructure, uniformity and the responsibility of the government
    • Mid-day meal isn't an incentive enough, unless the families are assured of getting a square meal.

    Amiya Kr. Bagchi

    • India experienced neo-liberalism twice since the Congress regime with a focus that rich will become more rich.
    • Since Ninth Finance Commission, the central government's policy has led almost all the state governments to bankruptcy. Unless the policy is reverted, the state governments will continue to face the financial crunch.
    • This forces the government to take the DFID and World Bank roles, at a high interest rate of 10.5%.
    • Today education in India is yearly a three trillion dollar business. Here institutions are coming up without taking any permission from the government and the government  is also silent on the matter.
    • Language is an area of grave concern in education and the most affected areas, as far as language is concerned, are those dominated by the adivasis.
    • We are actually living in multi-strata society, thus dividing the education system accordingly.
    • Media are guided by the rich and they target the rich also. Generally, the media will not look into the problems of education.
    • Orientation of people has to be changed.

    Indranath Bandopandhyay

    • This Bill is a farce. No other ruling party has made a mockery of children in any country.
    • Without economic empowerment and improvement, can equity in education be really brought in?
    • Parent penalty should be criticised.
    • The Government should be thrown out, otherwise the threat will remain.

    Ashok Agarwal

    • How this Government is acting is interesting to note.
    • Three types of schools are mentioned in the Bill - distance, approved and alternative. Every child must get quality education and the Bill has excluded Kendriya Vidyalaya, Navodaya from the category of approved schools. It will actually accentuate the discriminatory education system.
    • The Bill has recognised NCERT as the competent academic authority for the purpose of framing the curriculum. Academics and educationists should be responsible for such purpose.
    • The way children of BPL families has been defined is not proper. It should be defined as children belonging to weaker section.
    • Drinking water and toilet have been kept in the desirable list. This deserves criticism.
    • This Bill legalises child labour.
    • In absence of birth certificates, a child is not eligible for getting admission into school (under the clause of 'reservation up to 20%). How can destitute children have birth certificates? How can the problem of over age children can be addressed?
    • This is a 'cheat and cheap education bill' rather than free and compulsory education bill.

    The moderator winded up the session by requesting the people present to send in writing what they feel about the bill to the organisers, if possible, which will help in making a fruitful outcome, enriching the discourse along with.

  • 12. Kothari Commission recommendations about CSS and neighbourhood schools are at Annexure-1
  • 13. MPD standards for schools are at Annexure-2
  • 14. Based on suggestions made in 2001 in a report for Vasant Kunj from where citizens’ groups in flats, villages, old bastis and slums approached High Court in December 2003 for MPD CSS implementation
  • 15. Source: Azim Premji Foundation, http://azimpremjifoundation.org/Bills