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Free and Compulsory Education for Children in IndiaBY: Swati | Category: Education | Post Date: 2008-10-31
Finally the dream of free and compulsory education for all children in India seems to be shaping up. According to the Right to Education Bill every child in the 6-14 age group will be eligible for free education. This bill was passed by Parliament in December 2002 and after further consideration from several levels of ministers (GoM), civil society, media and academicians, the cabinet has finally approved the text of the bill in Octover 2008 after revision. According to Finance Minister P Chidambaram, HRD Ministry would release the text of the bill soon and it will help to enable legislation to notify the 86th Constitutional amendment. Since the final text has yet to released, most contents of this article is based on past information.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced that the "Right to Education Bill" will be introduced in Parliament in December 2008. If it passes, this law will give a major boost to the education sector, it may not be perfect and implementation may take lot of years, still it is a step in the right direction. Once children between 6 and 14 years are given the right to free and compulsory education it will empower Indian children to learn basic Mathematics, Science, Social, English and local language reading & writing skills. Education helps people to get better jobs, opportunity to earn more and a better understanding of their rights and the society.
* This law could impact several private schools too and they may have to give admission to at least 25 per cent of the children without any fee if child is from the weaker section of the society. The Bill may make some exceptions for schools such as Kendriya Vidyalayas from providing free education to the poor.
* No donation or capitation or interviewing the child or parents as part of a screening procedure.
* It comes along with a huge financial burden on the States. Cost of this program will likely exceed Rs.12.5 billion a year and increase over time. Union government is likely to provide majority of the funds. The financial requirement for implementing the measure for seven years from 2008-09 to 2014-15 is estimated to be Rs 2.28 lakh crore.
* States may be obliged to provide a school in every neighbourhood within three years, otherwise provide free transportation to a nearby neighbourhood where the free school exists.
* Special programs for children between 9-14 is a child is not enrolled in the free education program.
* Parents/guardians may be subjected to a compulsory community service if they fail to follow the law.
* Contents and effectiveness Syllabus, curriculum and how to develop proper education standard and qualification of teachers is still to be seen.
* The National Commission for Elementary Education will monitor the laws and progress. Lack of funds and resources is still the biggest challenge.
* Mandates that no child in the age group 6-14 shall be employed.
* According to current estimates, the government spends Rs 1,700 per child per year.
* Old Draft is located at : education.nic.in/elementary/RighttoEducationBill2005.pdf
There are several challanges besides funds, for example - quality control, meeting growing demand, politics, corruption, poor governance, lack of infrastructure.
We do not know if the initiative for free and compulsory education for all children in India will be implemented or how well it will work, but we all agree that it is the right step in the right direction.
Jai Hind !!
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