You know that the 'Right of Child to Free and Compulsory Education Bill-2008' is passed in Rajya Sabha. The UPA Government is proceeding with its neo-liberal agenda. The hundred-day program is on going. Within few days there is every possibility that the Bill is passed in Lok Sabha. Then it will go to president for her approval. Our member organizations and individuals associated with our forum have been opposing the Bill from the day first for known reasons. We will have to intensify our agitation against the bill and for a democratic alternative which we have been evolving.
The presidium suggests to you all to take up more protest programs during the present sessions of the parliament which may end on 7th August. Try for minimum one major protest program in head quarters of your state individually or united with like minded organizations in your state. You know it is time for action. You can take one, two or three programs or take up Jathas as you feel fit for your conditions. We should keep on protesting through out the period of the present sessions of the Parliament before and after passing of the Bill in Lok Sabha.
It is also suggested to you to send a memorandum to honorable madam speaker requesting her to do whatever is at her capacity to stall the Bill and to open up a public debate on different contentious issues related with Right To Education. The copies of the memorandum may be sent to leaders of all oppositional parties and copies of the same may be handed over in person to the M.Ps from your respective states. A proto type memorandum is attached with this circular. This memorandum is drafted keeping in mind that there is no meaning of criticizing all parties and ask their M.Ps to oppose the Bill. The criticism in the memorandum is confined to the present Bill and to the present government.
It shall not be misunderstood that we are not critical of other parties in the parliament which did or shared the sin related with 86th Amendment Act which paved path for this Bill. However, you would agree that the 86th Amendment Act though, do not facilitate, but at the same time, do not come in the way if, UPA government extends right to education up to age 18, bans all forms of commercialization and introduces Common School System by suitably changing or replacing the present version of the Bill. So, for the time being, we concentrate on UPA government and appeal to the M.Ps to pressure for the replacement of the Bill or defeat it if pushed for voting. The five demands at the end of the attached memorandum are important which presidium likes you to keep intact.
Keeping technical things in mind, the presidium do not suggest you to send a memorandum to the president of India at this stage. After, Lok Sabha approves the Bill; we will have to make a separate petition to the President requesting her not to sign it.
Memorandum to the Speaker
All India Forum for Right To Education
Smt. Meira Kumar,
Lok Sabha, Parliament of India,
Sub: 'The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2008' regarding;
The National Seminar on Right to Education and Common School System held at Hyderabad on 21st and 22nd June requested the Central Government to withdraw the undemocratic pending 'Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill-2008' forth with and replace it with a Bill drafted in the frame work of Common School System based on Neighborhood Schools. It is our considered view that this is the only frame work which would ensure education of equitable quality to all children in consonance with the principles of equality before law (Article 14), guarantee against discrimination by the state (Article 15-1) and equal opportunity in public employment (Article 16) as enshrined in the Constitution. Not only that all member organizations of All India Forum for Right To Education are opposing the Bill, many other democratic organizations are opposing this bill for valid reasons.
But, to our disappointment, the UPA Government did not heed to democratic voices in the country. The request for wider public debate on different provisions of the Bill, were even turned down. The Bill is passed in Rajya Sabha without any consideration to certain objections raised by some learned members of the house. The government is preceding with its 100 day neo-liberal agenda including commercialization of education. As a last resort we appeal you and the members of the Lok Sabha to seriously ponder over our objections to the Bill before proceeding further with it. You would agree, we believe, an education policy affects a nation for generations and body politics shall not undermine it.
We bring to your notice that the Bill, instead of giving fundamental right to children, deprives them of the fundamental right already given to them by the Supreme Court through the Unnikrishnan Judgment (1993). Indeed this Bill amounts to being not only anti-constitutional, anti-educational and anti- of child but also promoter of unabashed privatization and commercialization of school education.
The Supreme Court through its historic Unnikrishnan Judgment (1993), declared 'free and compulsory education' a fundamental Right of all children until they complete the age of fourteen years (including the children below six years age) by reading Article 45 of Part IV of the constitution in conjunction with Article 21 (right to Life) of part III. The pending Bill, if enacted, results in (a) 17 crore children below six years of age losing their fundamental right to balanced nutrition, health care and preprimary education; and (b) the government being assigned arbitrary powers to provide free and compulsory education to the 19 crore children in the 6-14 year age group "in such manner as the state may by law determine ", just as the government has been doing for the past sixty years.
We hereby underline the following serious lacunae and contradictions in the Bill.
· Allows the authorities to dilute the meaning of Free Education in an ad-hoc manner;
· distorts the concept of Neighborhood School recommended by the Kothari Commission (1966) and resolved by the Parliament in the National Policy on Education- 1986 (as modified in 1992), thereby authorizing the government to compel the poor children to study in inferior quality schools;
· maintains Sarva Sikhsha Abhiyan's discriminatory multi-layered school system;
· permits the to build schools of entirely unacceptable, ambiguous and sub-standard norms and standards;
· continues with inferior quality education for almost three fourths of the children, particularly girls and disadvantaged;
· discriminates between the children studying in government schools and the private unaided schools in various ways. This bound to lead further deterioration of the quality of education in the government schools, making private schools, both aided and un-aided even more expensive and inaccessible to a wide section of the society. The worst sufferers of such discrimination will be the girls, thereby leading to increased gender disparity;
· aims at demolishing the government school system under the pretext of providing free education to the weaker sections on 25% of the seats in the private schools. On several grounds it is clear that this misconceived provision would not give any benefit whatsoever to the deprived children even in the short term;
· legitimizes, through the above named provision of 25% reservation in private schools, the 'free market' policy of school vouchers and Public Private Partnership;
· refuses, by not including the financial estimates for implementation of the Bill in the Financial Memorandum, to explicitly accept the full obligations of the Bill and
· Promotes unregulated privatization and commercialization of school education.
The following three cynical objectives of the central government can be identified in tabling such a misconceived Bill:
First, abdicating its constitutional obligation for providing free and compulsory education of equitable quality;
Second, demolishing the government school system, except the schools of specified categories (Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas, XI plan's 6,000 model schools, and similar elite schools of the States/UT governments); and
Third, increasing the pace of privatization and commercialization of school education.
We have been requesting the Union Government to
1. replace the pending Bill with a new Bill drafted in the frame work of the Common School System based on neighborhood Schools in consonance with the basic spirit and principles enshrined in the constitution;
2. review the 86th constitutional amendment Act (2002) with a view to providing a fundamental right to free and compulsory education of equitable quality to all children until the age of eighteen years I.e. until class XII without any conditionality whatsoever;
3. A constitutional Guarantee to be included within the Bill for providing adequate funding for the entire school system. This is precisely the implication of a fundamental right.
4. the Bill should include a provision to completely ban all forms of privatization and commercialization of education especially public private participation, adoption of schools by private agencies and voucher schools;
5. hold public hearing in all district head quarters of the country in a democratic and transparent manner in the process of drafting a new Bill.
Dear Madam, as is submitted to you in the beginning, government is not heeding to the democratic voices and is not responding to the articulated concerns and so, we request you to send the bill to select committee and ask the select committee to conduct public hearing in all district head quarters of the country in a democratic and transparent manner in the process making essential changes to the present bill or in drafting a new Bill keeping the spirit of the preamble of the constitution of our country and Unnikrishnan Judgment.
- the prime Minister
- the Human Resource Minister
- the Leaders of Opposition Parties
- the Members of Lok Sabha
- the Chairman, National human Rights Commission
- the Chairperson,
National commission for Protection of Child Rights
Thanking you Madam
ALL INDA FORUM FOR RIGHT TO EDUCATION
306, Pleasant Apartments, Bazarghat, Hyderabad-4
Phone no. 04023305266
Prof. Anil Sadgopal
Prof. G. Haragopal
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