Eight years after the Constitution was amended to make right to education a fundamental right — an enabling legislation making the Centre and state governments responsible for its implementation —it got Lok Sabha’s approval on Tuesday.
Rajya Sabha has already approved the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2009 last week. The Bill would now be sent to President for assent, before notifying it as a law for implementation.
Its implementation would be a big challenge and need constant partnership of the state, Human Resource Minister Kapil Sibal said, while replying to a discussion on the Bill that provides for compulsory education for all children in 6-14 age group, in the Lok Sabha.
“There is a lot of flexibility in the Bill for the state governments to implement it…We cannot achieve the target in a day. I am sure it can be done in partnership with the state governments”. As per the Constitution, state governments are responsible for implementation of elementary education programmes.
Sibal said the state governments will have powers to include any section including disabled children in the ambit of weaker sections so that they can get benefit of 25 per cent reservation in unaided schools. However, the final decision on reservation will be of the state governments.
The Bill, termed historic by the Parliament, was one of the flagship programmes in the 100-day agenda of the UPA government. Sibal described the Bill was as "harbinger of a new era" for children to meet the challenges of the 21st century. “To me, the law is late by many years. It should have come earlier”.
Responding to members' concern on the financial requirement of the gigantic task, he said a group was on the job, which would provide inputs to the 13th Finance Commission before completion of its term in October this year.
The Bill also seeks to do away with the practice of schools taking capitation fees before admission and subjecting the child or parents to any screening procedure.
Ten objectives, which include free and compulsory education, obligation on the part of state to provide education, nature of curriculum consistent with Constitution, quality, focus on social responsibility and obligation of teachers and de-bureaucratisation in admissions, are part of the Bill.