What does Right to Education mean? laws are passed to ensure our rights so that more powerful people can not prevent poor and defenseless from practicing those rights. For example Right to Express ourself is often denied to people by those who have an advantage in suppressing it. Tar is poured on authors who try to expose things or they are made to fly away from the country.
Laws help in providing security to such people. Ideally a modern society can give its citizens right to expression without passing any law but because this right involves conflict of people or groups; a law becomes a necessity.
Education is one area where everyone agrees that it must be made accessible to every citizen. No point in time after independence any party or group opined otherwise. Also, those people who are not receiving education are not doing so because some one is preventing them. They do it largely because of social and economic frameworks they live in.
The right to education bill makes it mandatory that
1. Children from 6-14 age must be in school.
2. There should be a school from within the vicinity of every village.
3. 55000 crores to be allocated each year for education.
4. Center will shoulder the large part of costs incurred.
5. Local bodies to play major role in supervising the infrastructure.
Honestly, I don’t see any reason why these things can not be done without passing a Bill with lots of fanfare.
Again, if the bill enables the government to impart education to all those missed out then it must be welcomed, but what I fear is that merely passing the bill will be assumed as landmark instead of implementing it. We have passed the bill hence we have done so much for education is to be the likely stand taken by government in near future.
Out of all money that government spends on education 90% is spent on teacher’s salary. Surveys suggest that out of 4 teachers 2 teachers are absent through out academic year. Which implies almost 45% of funds are simply going in drain.
Also, the quality of teachers is another issue. India does not have good enough framework to train and certify teachers. The right to education bill says where qualified teachers can not be hired they will lower the norm. One must not forget that the reservation policies of government will be applicable while hiring the teachers as well.
Plight of teachers in India is unwatchable. Whenever government does not have funds, teacher’s salary is withheld. Several government aided colleges do not give full salary to teachers, school management makes them do work which is not part of their duty.
Bill does try to address several of these issues but then there is no reason why we should believe it will be done that way.
But implementing a solution is different from figuring out the solution. Is the Right to Education bill an indication that government has managed to understand the real problem and then address it?
I don’t think I am competent enough to pass a judgement on this, but it would have been incredibly useful if the house had debated and discussed this bill and possible alternatives in extreme detail.
Otherwise this bill might be just another attempt of shouting “We won” and running away.
Here is a film by Nandita Das :