Free Education Bill comes under flak

Strongly condemning the components of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory  Education Bill 2008, which was passed in the Parliament recently, the State Alliance For Education (SAFE) and other child rights organisations, on Wednesday, pointed out the drawbacks of the Bill.

 K C Venkatesh, Convenor, SAFE on Wednesday said, “The Bill has listed the compulsory education for poor children between the age group of 6-14 years, indicating the exclusion of children below the age of six. This directly implies the absence of pre-school education which is essential for a child’s development. The Bill has excluded children between 14 and 18 years. By providing education till 14 years, the Bill implies education till 8th standard, which is not enough to secure employment.”

Pointing out the demerits of reservation in the Bill, Venkatesh said, “Twenty-five percent of reservation and the coupon system, which gives rebate for children of lower economic group seeking admissions in private schools, encourages privatisation and thereby commercialisation of school education. It indicates that the government schools are not given an opportunity to grow and giving coupons to private schools would amount to blatant encouragement of private managements.”

Inclusive education

As per the Disability Act 1995, inclusive education of students with physical disabilities was recommended, but the Bill clearly ignores the objective of education, added Venkatesh.      SAFE has also demanded for accomadating the appropriate changes in the Bill, to ensure free and compulsory education for children till the age of 18 with 12 years of education.

This, in turn would increase the chances of employment for children belonging to lower economic group with 12 years of basic education, the organisation observed

Some of the other drawbacks of the Bill are:

* Denial of free compulsory education to children in the age group of 14-18 years.
* Instead of giving fundamental right it deprives children of the fundamental right already given to them by Supreme Court through Unnikrishnan Judgement in 1993.
* Replacement of the Bill with the framework of Common School System based on neigbhourhood schools.

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