[mpisgmedia] Fw: Report (SJ, unfazed by the collapse of the free-seats order!)

so coool! makes us look like hi-strung over-reactors!
please see http://plan.architexturez.net/site/mpisg/f and if it makes sense to you please say so.
(will upload today's over-reacting asap)

From: "Ashok" <[email protected]>

Subject: Report Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2005 11:01:54 +0530

Dear Friend

We have posted large number of PIL cases on right to education on our website: www.socialjurist.com kindly visit the website and send your comments/suggestions. The journalist friends are requested to make a news-item on this website for the benefit of people at large. Our effort is to share with all concerned about our work and to make a national network on PIL cases on right to education.

With regards,

Ashok Agarwal,


Advisor, Social Jurist,


Report of the 3rd Consultative Meeting on

"Free & Compulsory Education Bill"
(January16, 2005, organized by Social Jurist)

The meeting was held with the objective to consult the eminent persons for their valuable suggestions to frame an alternative draft of the "Free & Compulsory Education Bill." About 55 participants comprising of bureaucrats, academicians, lawyers, pediatricians, social activists, spiritual guru, journalists, students etc. concerned in the field of education shared their experiences.

The welcome address was given by Ashok Agarwal of Social Jurist. Prof. Abu Baker, Chairman, Delhi Minority Commission chaired the session.

Ashok Agarwal gave a brief introduction about Social Jurist, as a group of Civil Rights Activists working together for social causes.

· He explained that how right to education functions as a key right in relation to other rights of children, like, right to health, right to shelter, right to food, etc. There has been a total failure of the government in implementation of the laws of education.

· He further shared the impact of Public Interest Litigation in area of laws of education, and it is only after numerous attempts that government gives any positive reaction. This fight is against the system, that is good for few and bad for the rest of majority.

· He observed that the Central government does not have any law on this issue and therefore, it lacks uniformity among various States.

· He further shared that two consultative meetings with regard to the draft bill have already been held earlier in November 2004. He explained that the 1st Draft Bill was almost the copy of the 1960 Delhi Education Act, which was never implemented by the Delhi government. The loopholes of the 1st Draft Bill were pointed out and similarly regarding the 2nd Draft Bill also, its weaknesses were pointed out. Speaking about the 3rd Draft Bill, he elaborated that it was as bad as the earlier draft bills. After change of government at center, the UPA government constituted Kapil Sibal Committee to prepare a new draft bill.

· This law is going to affect 40 crore children of this country, therefore, lot of care is needed in formulating the draft bill. He noted that this is their endeavor to get the right to education and other co-related rights covered under this bill along with the issue of accountability of the government.

· Ashok observed that the members present in this meeting could work together to put forward the positive suggestions and can also act as a pressure group so that an effective and workable legislation could be drafted.

A presentation was made by Madan M. Jha on Education Bill - 'some alternative thoughts'.

· He mentioned about various issues such as different perspectives of the bill are: beyond article 21, preamble, part II article 45, article 51 A (Collective excellence), UN Convention on Rights of the Child, UNESCO, Principles of equity.

· The title of the bill is " Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2004", which has been proposed to be changed to "The Right to Education for Children, Equity, Excellence and Social Justice Bill, 2005."

· Similarly, light was thrown on each and every aspect of the Bill. Some important questions were also made part of the draft. Some issues were put under the non negotiable Fundamentals: schools for all and teachers for all, bringing private schools under CSS and neighborhood schooling, principle of Common School system. Furthermore, definitions also needs some changes.

Madan Jha's presentation was followed by comments from the floor. The participants raised a number of interesting and imperative issues.

Venkat Reddy from Hyderabad noted that there are 10 crore kids who are out of school and they are considered as Child labor. In Nalkunda District (A.P.), they have managed to eradicate the child labor. If it can be done there, why can't we implement it at other places too? He highlighted the pathetic state of government's role in education sector. According to him, the government departments are giving wrong statistics in order to improve their records about education. He presented data relating to certain period where the government statistics showed reduced number of children in age group 5-14 years, where major part of missing children (actual number of children - number of children presented by statistical data) consists of girls. The market forces are attracting children to work as labor. The school forces should be able to compete with the market forces to bring a child from labour market to school. He also raised an issue of accountability of the government and wanted to know at what level it should be. He further argued for total abolition of child labour by getting the kids into full time school.

Dr R.N.Srivastava, Chairman, Indian Pediatricians Association, stated the need to include children who have not been included in the draft, e.g., children of construction workers who are always on the move. Therefore, there has to be some arrangement for them too.

Karan Tyagi, National Convener, NAFRE, raised few issues, which could be discussed in the meeting as discussion on all the areas was not possible. These were medium of instructions, question of 0-6 years and from 14 years to 18 years, issue of privatization, whether minority institutions are required to be brought within the scope of legislation and how can non - school going kids could be helped. He is of the view that the school curriculum should include values and principles. The privatization should be done away with and State should see that all children go to school.

Swami Agnivesh, Social Activist, relating the issue with spirituality observed that education is the base and it should be discussed in relation to spirituality. He brought out few issues:

· Why our society is divided into classes? Why is that always poor class suffers of any calamity? This distinction that we have build ourselves between the poor and rich has to be evaded. We should equalize the classes.

· This should be made a social revolution and every person of the society is to be involved in this. It should not just left as an agenda of intelligentsia and advocated.

· Presently, education industry has been made as a profit making body by the Mafia. Truth, love, compassion, justice should be involved in it. It should be kept away from communal disputes.

· Question of equity, gender equality between classes also need to be considered.

· Although in our Constitution, word "Socialism" comes before Secularism, but commenting on today's' situation, he explained that how can Globalization and Socialism can go hand in hand. Nowadays competition has become a biggest terror in students as well as in their parents.

· Children from all the classes should go to school irrespective of their financial status.

Anand Swaroop, former secretary, ministry of HRD, pointed out about:

· The difficulties and problems of ground realities that a poor man faces and at that crucial time when everyone turns deaf ear to him, whom should he approach and what is the process by which he can demand the Right to Education because filing a Writ Petition in the High Court is far beyond his imagination. Rather a layman wants some Forum that is easily accessible to him.

· The main issue is if the Right to Education is violated or unavailable to any of us, who should be held responsible and what is the punishment for such violation in the hierarchy. A layman should be made aware of these basics.

· He further emphasized that this is neither Central or State issue but it is a national issue.

· The Government has not created the required awareness on the issue, it should be publicized more extensively as a Massive National Campaign.

Colin Gonsalves, Sr. Advocate and Executive Director, Human Rights Law Network, of the view that the judgment given by the Supreme Court in Unni Krishnan Case was a very elaborated judgment which talked about social responsibility of the State to impart education. It said that State and private parties have a serious duty to educate poor. But with the knocking down of this judgment in TMA Pai case, a mess has been created where right to education is again jeopardized. Therefore, there is a need to go back and hold Unni Krishnan judgment good and work accordingly. There must be a national consultation on education bill as on TMA Pai judgment.

Glenn Fawcett, Social Activist from Australia, showed his concern on the state of education in India and raised the following issues:

a.. There should be some kind of independent advisory board to assist the government in providing the education to all.
b.. There should be a time based action plan for education, which should be implemented accordingly.
c.. Statistics given by the Indian Government is different from real state of affairs.
d.. There are people who are jumping around their responsibility. There is a need to see as to how to make people responsible and accountable.

Prof. Abu Baker suggested to discuss the following specific issues to make the deliberations meaningful.

a.. Who should be held responsible and accountable in case a child does not get education - parent or State?
b.. What should be done about child labour?
c.. How funds should be sourced and allocated for education?
d.. How private schools are affecting education? Should they co-exist with government school?
e.. Is common school system and neighbourhood school a good concept? Should it be followed?

Regarding the issue of responsibility and accountability of educating children, the views were divided. One view was that the parents and Government, both should bear the responsibility and the other view (which was predominant) was that it is the Government only who is responsible and accountable for educating children. Prof. Abu Baker explained it with reasoning. He said education is a part of life. When a parent attempts to take life of his child, it is state's duty to stop the parent from doing so. If a parent is not giving education to his child, it means that he is diminishing child's life; the state should come and stop the parent from doing so.

Rashmi Swaroop Johari, Journalist, gave the suggestion that Government can work on 'Shiksha Abhiyan' just like it has worked on Polio Abihyan. It can bring awareness about education and ensure by reaching to every household that children are getting education.

Prof. Ramu Mani Vannan, Department of political science, Hindu College, said that when poor parents decide not to send their child to the school, they could not be considered as stupid. They have given birth to a child. They are more concerned and experienced than us in that matter. The question is - why do they take decision not to send their child to the school - because conditions of life and surroundings are not conducive to education. It is the duty of the State to create such conditions of education in the society that parents can take decision to send their child to school without any apprehension. The work is needed to be done in this regard right from central government level to gram Panchayats - responsibility need to be placed at appropriate levels.

Regarding the problem of child labour, it was viewed by some participants that the parents of children need technical support to make them understand the economics of child labour and to take care of the immediate survival problems they have. Ashok Agarwal gave an example of Nalconda district, Andhra Pradesh, where the people have been able to eradicate the child labour and in the resulting scenario, the earning of poor parents has increased and children who were working earlier started going to the school. What practically happened was that because of non - availability of children for work, employers had to employ adults (the parents) for the same job. This way many unemployed adults got employment and they started getting higher wages for the same work because wages to an adult are paid at higher rate than that given to a child.

One view was that Government should make some alternate arrangements of survival to the poor in order to send their working children to school. Another view was that the children should be given some vocation training in the school so that parents are satisfied that after studying the child would be able to earn more. Yet, the other strong view was that a child up to the age of 14 years should be in the school and not at all at the work place. For a child, school is the best place to work. ILO Convention on minimum age of employment is required to be implemented rigorously.

Regarding the financing for education, it was viewed that 'education' being in the concurrent list of the Constitution of India, both Centre and the State should contribute for it. The question of how much percentage of GDP should be allocated by the Centre and the State was discussed. Some of the views were-

a.. Education should be treated as priority area while allocating budget for it.
b.. Money to be spent on administration of education and on operational part of education should segregate.
c.. There should be a built in accountability mechanism in the system so that if the money allocated for particular purpose is not spent accordingly, the accountability can be placed on some person(s) for not using it properly.
d.. A financial statement should be attached with the Bill as to how fund will come and will be utilized.

Regarding the existence and regulation of private schools, some of the major views were as follows:

a.. The Government should decide about the minimum contents of education to be provided by the private schools and Government schools. There should be similarity and parity.
b.. Quality education should be provided in Government schools. Parents - teacher meeting can be organized in Government schools also to improve the quality and conditions of education.
c.. The provision should be made that private schools would give free education to poor children to the 50% of their strength. There would be no discrimination amongst students. No different classes for poor students. And stringent measures should be taken against those schools that do not follow Government's instructions.

Regarding the Common School System and Neighborhood school system, the major views were as follows:

· There must be common schools for every child. Children from same locality should go to same school. This is the only way discrimination can be ended and quality education can be ensured to all.

· For this private schools should be abolished or regulated in such a manner that they work according to the Common School System.

· It is the elite class parents who contribute to increasing discrimination because they want their children to study in elite private schools.

The meeting ended with the note that the primary thing, which is required to make the dream of education for all a reality, is the 'Will of the State'. The State has capacity and capability to do what it really wants to do. Thus, there is a need to awaken the people at the helm of affair of the State on the issue of education.

The vote of thanks was given by Kusum Sharma, Advocate, Social Jurist.

(Report prepared by

Anuradha Sharma & Rohini Agarwal)

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