A Bill providing for free and compulsory education as a fundamental right of children in the 6-14 age group – a flagship programmes in the 100-day agenda of the UPA government – was passed by Rajya Sabha on Monday.
The Parliament had made the right to education a fundamental right through the 93rd Constitution Amendment in 2001 but it took the Central government over eight years for all stake-holders to agree to an enabling legislation --- the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2008, known simply as the Right to Education Bill.
The Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha in December 2008 and referred to a parliamentary standing committee. It was taken up for discussion after the government had examined the committee’s report.
The Bill earmarks 25 per cent seats to weaker sections in schools, seeks to do away with the practice of schools taking capitation fees before admission, subjecting the child or parents to a screening procedure and giving powers to child rights panels to look into grievances of parents against schools.
On reservation in schools, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said it would be up to the states to implement the policy of reservation in admissions. School education is a state subject.
The ministry estimated that Rs 2.28 lakh crore would be required in the next seven years to implement the Constitutional obligation.
Responding to members’ concern on the financial requirement, Sibal said a group was on the job and would provide inputs to the 13th Finance Commission before completion of its term in October this year.
“Once Parliament passes it, it will be a fundamental right of the child. There is no way in the world that we will not have finances,” Sibal said.