With the Left moving away from dictating terms, the Ministry of Human Resource Development is preparing to push forward all policies and legislations put on the backburner. The ministry wants to push through a few bills with an eye on the coming elections.
First up is the Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operation, Maintenance of Quality and Prevention of Commercialisation) Bill — the main point of contention between the government and the Left.
“If time permits we would introduce the bill in (the) next session only. Anyway, some of the Left concerns were also accommodated in the bill,” HRD minister Arjun Singh said. The bill — which aims to allow and regulate participation of foreign education providers in the country — was to be introduced in the budget session in 2007.
“We are opposed not just to the provisions but to the policy in itself, which will lead to the commercialisation of education in the country. With no regulation in place for our own institutions which lack standards, the government is pushing through the bill under US pressure,” the CPM’s Brinda Karat told HT.
The Right to Education Bill, which in its earlier form was opposed by the states for putting too much burden on them, is expected to be introduced in the monsoon session. The bill would provide free and compulsory quality education as a basic right to every child below 14 years. “We have worked out the details with the states and all our efforts are to introduce the RtE (the bill) in the coming session,” Singh said.
A bill to regulate the fee and admission in private educational institutions, put on the backburner in the wake of Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act (providing 27 per cent OBC quota), is also on the anvil.
The ministry is also looking at implementing the commitments made in the Common Minimum Programme. It states that the mid-day meals programme would be extended till the secondary level. At present, it is till the upper primary level. “We are planning to extend the programme,” Singh said.