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Right to Education Bill introduced in LS
Published on 31 Jul. 2009 11:16 PM IST
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Sixteen years after the idea was mooted, a bill aiming to provide free and compulsory education to children in the age group of six to 14 was introduced in the Lok Sabha Friday with the larger target of making India a “knowledge hub” in the future. “This was a matter of national importance for UPA (United Progressive Alliance). This bill is just not about taking children to school. This is a bill that speaks about quality education, it speaks about the physical infrastructure, teacher-pupil ratio, qualification of teachers,” Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said after introducing the bill. “The bill is integrated with the future of the country. It will create intellectual assets. Creativity of mind leads to creation of intellectual assets. The minister said that the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Bill, after becoming law, will provide “free education to students” and all states will compulsorily have to provide it. “It means free for children and compulsory for states.” Talking about the quality of education, the minister said an academic committee will be set up to evaluate the quality of teachers and if a teacher does not have adequate qualification, then he or she will have to acquire it within five years and failing to do so will mean losing the job. If a school does not have adequate infrastructure, then it will have to develop it within three years. “Else, its recognition will be cancelled”. “The child is entitled to get education. Now it is a constitutional right for the child. It is the obligation and compulsion of state governments and the central government to provide that education. As long as central and state governments do not walk together, the dream can not be fulfilled,” Sibal said. The minister said the idea of such a bill was mooted in 1993 and in 2001, the Constitution was amended to make education a fundamental right. But the amendment also had a rider that to make education free and compulsory, a separate bill has to be introduced. “So, technically, we have had to wait 16 years for this.” The minister said once this bill becomes a law, it will ensure 25 percent reservation in private schools. “All private schools will have to reserve 25 percent seats for disadvantaged students in Class 1. They have to give admission to economically weaker section students living in the neighbourhood of the school. “This too will be decided by the state governments - they have to decide which of their community is educationally backward and need benefit.”

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