Day 3: Emphasizing the Fundamental Rights of 'Equal Education' Print E-mail

 Sunday November 12, 2006

Right to Education Bill sought

Aarti Dhar

NEW DELHI: The National Alliance for Right to Education and Equity (NAFRE) on Saturday reiterated its demand for enactment of the Fundamental Right to Education Bill, while the People's Campaign for Common School System emphasised the need for implementation of a common system to ensure access to education to all.

At the India Social Forum here, NAFRE impressed upon the Government to come out with an education system that ensured a properly run formal neighbourhood school with locally developed context-specific curriculum.

"Several commission have suggested increasing expenditure on elementary education. The Kothari Commission (1964-66) has advocated spending six per cent of the GDP on education but there is no clarity that where and how the education cess imposed for the education of 6-14 years will be spent," NAFRE activists said.

Common facilities
Though the Bill talked of qualified and trained teachers, second-rate and inferior education was provided in the name of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the Alliance pointed out. It suggested the setting up of neighbourhood schools providing quality education with common facilities to all children irrespective of class, caste, religion and gender.

People's Campaign said education must strengthen the commitment in every citizen to the goals enshrined in the Constitution. "Education is a means for unleashing the full human potential in the larger public interest as well as a path to social development with equality and social justice."

The Campaign also sought to mobilise public opinion to prevent the Government from offering education as a negotiable service and making any commitments without promoting a transparent and nationwide debate on the matter and, since education is a concurrent subject, involving both Parliament and the State legislatures in decision-making.

"The State must commit all necessary public resources for promotion education at all levels so that its benefits accrue equitably to all sections of society," it said.

The right to education was meaningful only when provided along with other fundamental rights, especially those enshrined in Articles 14,15 and 16 relating to equality and social justice. In this sense, the right to education agenda could not be delinked from the agenda of the Common School System (including private unaided schools) founded on the principle of neighbourhood schools.