CONSTITUTION (NINETY-THIRD AMENDMENT) BILL, 2001 (Insertion of new article 21A. Substitution of new article for article 45 and Amendment of article 51A)
THE MINISTER OF HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT, MINISTER OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AND MINISTER OF OCEAN DEVELOPMENT (DR. MURLI MANOHAR JOSHI) moving the motion for consideration of the Bill, said : Right now the Government have passed an important legislation. I am also moving an equally important motion for the consideration of the Bill. This is a historical Bill and if passed, it will pave the way for alround development of India. India is an exception in the world where this system has not been implemented so far. At present there are approximately 21 crore boys and girls in the age group of 6 to 14 years out of which 20 per cent are those for whom education are beyond reach. This is a curse for our country and we have to get free from it at the earliest. India has progressed a lot in the field of education. Our literacy rate is 66% and if the present trend of last 3-4 years continued, we will achieve our targets much before the time fixed. The present situation of India was not like what we are facing today.
The system of education deteriorated in the first 50-60 years of rule by the Britishers. The reason for this that they have adopted the system which were costlier and the ways and means adopted for imparting education was not compatible with our tradition and culture. The education of women was more deplorable. Inspite of all our efforts in this direction we have not achieved much in this regard. I do not want to go in details for all those reason responsible for this. But I will definitely like to mention one thing that the allocation we have made in the First Five Year Plan for education was never repeated in any outlay in any Government so far. Today the entire country is accepting the fact that it has become utmost necessary to provide free and compulsory education in India. This has been discussed under the leadership of our hon. Prime Minister and he has assigned this task to a few members of his Cabinet. After taking necessary advice by the Law Ministry and Law Commission I have brought this Bill for consideration of the House. The Supreme Court has also acceded the fact in the Unnikrishnan case that education is also a fundamental right and article 45 could be seen in that way. But education being in concurrent list and such education needed in the entire country it has become the responsibility of the Government to implement this in that form. It had been said in the earlier amendments brought in this connection that article 45 should be abrogated in toto and another article 21A be added in the existing article 21 and make it a fundamental right and also to put some responsibility on the guardians as well. Had it been accepted, no Government, be it of the Centre or State, would have any constitutional right to provide any education to the child from birth upto six years of age. That is why, we have made a provision in the article 45 wherein we have made provision not only to provide education to the children upto six years of age but also to take care of them. The importance of education would have, had we not adopted this system.
We are definitely making arrangements with the help of State Governments for the children between the age group of zero to six years. The number of children between the age group of zero to six years is very large in our country. Therefore, it would be very difficult if we leave its the management to the Governments. We have taken views of the educational experts. Our concern is that the children should be healthy and have sound mind. In our country, there are about 10 lakh schools and villages for which arrangements have to be made by State Governments and Union Government. I would like to assure you that there will be no lapse on our part and full attention will be paid towards the free education and child care for the children between the age group of zero to six years. We are requesting all volunteer organisations and corporate houses to help in this sector. The Education for All drive is an ongoing scheme. Almost all the States have agreed that full attention should be given towards quality of schools and this system will be implemented in phases in future.
SHRI SAMIK LAHIRI: I am thankful to the Minister of Human Resource Development for introducing this kind of Bill. It is most unfortunate that after 54 years of our Independence, we are now having some initiatives to make education a Fundamental Right. If we look back, there were several Committees and Commissions to look into the different aspects of education right from elementary to higher education. According to the World Education Report, India shares 32.3 per cent of the illiterates of the world and it has been estimated in the report that India’s share of the global illiteracy will go up to 34 per cent in the year 2004. If we look at the public expenditure per student per capita of Gross National Income by India, it is only 16.3 per cent in India and the world figure is at 23.3 per cent. The expenditure on education in our country has come down right from the First Five Year Plan to the Ninth Five year Plan. This resulted in a huge amount of illiteracy. It is only because of the neglect that our education has received. Even after 54 years of our Independence, we could not realise the dream of the framers of our Constitution. Early childhood care and education are very important. Even we were a signatory of the UN Charter in the year 1992. There also, it has been stated that early childhood care education should be taken care of by the Government. Another important point is the financial aspect of this Bill. If we make it a fundamental right, definitely a big amount of money is needed for it.
This is the responsibility of the Government to arrange for the money. If I refer Prof. Amartya Sen and Jhon Dreze, their research papers have stated that if we put five paise in elementary education, we will get 25 paise back in your GDP. If we look at the Budget of this Government for the last three years, the allocation for education has gone down in terms of percentage. It has been stated here that a person who is a parent or a guardian has to provide opportunities for education. The Government cannot shy away from its responsibility or it cannot abdicate its responsibility by putting the burden on the shoulders of the parents and guardians. I urge upon the hon. Minister that he should consider it with flexibility. I hope that the hon. Minister would definitely be able to understand and he would be flexible enough to incorporate these points.
SHRI SHANKAR PRASAD JAISWAL: From the very beginning of the life education boosts our physical, mental and metaphysical development and people become self dependent and vigorous. Today as a result of a lot of efforts India has been able to increase the number of schools, students and teachers in elementary education. Inspite of that the target fixed for elementary education has no2t been achieved. To achieve the said target, the Hon’ble Minister has introduced this constitutional amendment Bill. In 1950-51 the number of schools in the country was 2 lakh 31 thousand . Now this number has touched the figure of 9 lakh 30 thousand in the year 1998-99. But there are around 1 lakh colonies in the country which do not have schooling facilities within a radius of one kilometer. The Government has done a laudable job by launching universal education scheme. As result of this scheme all the children will be able to get elementary education for five years till 2007. But to provide compulsory elementary education the need of buildings is greatly felt.
I would like the government to allocate more funds for this purpose. The Government has accepted that a large number of children are deprived from the compulsory elementary education. The department of education has given a vast consideration as to how the elementary education should be imparted to the poor children in the age group of 6-14. I want that an arrangement should also be made for these children so that they could get education. The Hon’ble Minister has implemented national nutrition assistance programme to strengthen the elementary education. As a result of this scheme the admission of children to class I-V has increased. I would like to suggest that this assistance should be increased. There are many states where in place of mid day meals food grains are distributed. I would like the government to make arrangements in which they could get also get midday meals. There is need of uniformity in syllabus and fees in private schools and that of government schools. Private schools charge Rs. 200/- or 300/- for forms and take thousands of rupees as donation. In government schools we are unable to provide basic requirements like black board, writing pad and chairs . The Hon’ble Minister should think over removing this inequality. The Government of Rajasthan has opened 36000 Rajiv Gandhi Pathshallas and has appointed one teacher in each of them who are 8th class pass. How can those who themselves are illiterate impart education? I support the Bill introduced in the House.
SHRI RAVI PRAKASH VERMA: When the country became independent the founding fathers of the constitution had made provisions that the universal elementary education would be provided within a period of 10 years. The Government has awakened after 54 years. There is need to ponder over the negligences done during the last 54 years. Even today 80% population of the country is dependent on agriculture. More than half of it is illetrate. There has been inordinate delay in bringing this Bill. The country in which the constitution had provided for free and compulsory education within a period of 10 years, in the same country the constitution of the society had been opposing the right of education to `Shudras’ for thousands of years. I would like to know the reasons as to why the people and democracy of India could not achieve the target set for them.
We all have to think over it. Today the insecurity and injustice is the result of illetracy. The plight of education is known to everyone. I would like to inform the Government that the condition of Primary education is not good. In Uttar Pradesh thousands of schools are empty. There are no teachers . Around 12.5 crore students of the country do not get themselves enrolled. They fail to complete education upto 5th standard. This is a matter of concern. The Parliamentary Standing Committee of the department of education has recommended in its report for free mid day meal, books and uniform along with free education. The education means meaningful education which could develop the students but the Government did not pay attention to this aspect. The Government wants the Bill regarding compulsory education to children from 6 to 14 years passed but if the mother of the child does not get nutritious food, how can a healthy baby take birth? I would like to state that the Government should not be carefree leaving this matter on the State Governments. Can the Government think over providing rebate to the mothers of babies? I would also like to inform the Government that the girls in the age group of 14 to 18 out number the boys in school drop out cases. We are celebrating International Women Year and if the attention is not paid to protect their interests, it will be unfortunate.
SHRI M.V.V.S. MURTHI : I congratulate hon. Prime Minister for bringing out this Bill for education to everybody. Unless we achieve universal education, we cannot eradicate poverty. Unless you bring about a movement in the society, it is very difficult to achieve the target of universal education at the elementary level. It is a fact that Infrastructural facilities like school buildings and teachers are not available in many villages. Providing school teachers is becoming a problem because it is a financial commitment. To overcome this difficulty, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Shri Chandrababu Naidu has appointed more than two lakhs of voluntary teachers.
He has formed School Committees in every village. Unless you have teachers to run elementary schools, you cannot make universal education a reality. So, you must have the will in the first place. Because of this reason I wholeheartedly welcome this Constitution (Amendment) Bill. Quality education still remains an unfulfilled dream. Creation of infrastructure in the field of education should be given the highest consideration. For this huge funds are required. At least, up to fifth class, the Government of India should fund 100 per cent. Our Chief Minister says that we should create knowledge-based society at the earliest to eradicate poverty.
SHRI MOHAN RAWALE: I on behalf of my Party welcome the Constitution amendment Bill introduced by the Hon’ble Minister. The persons who had been in power for the last 50 years, did nothing about education. Now our Government is going to do this job. In Maharashtra, the famous social reformer Mahatama Phule strived for imparting education to the people belonging to scheduled caste and scheduled tribes. Now free and compulsory education is likely to be provided to the children in the age group of 6-14. But it has been observed many a times that where there are teachers there are no students and where there are students there are no teachers. The Government should also think over it. I would like to request the Hon’ble Minister to restart the policy of providing mid day meal to the children upto 10 years which continued upto 1995. The standard of rural education and primary education is not good. We spend around 3.8% of our GDP on eradicating illetracy while other developing countries are spending around 9% of their GDP for the same purpose. Therefore, we should increase the expenditure upto 5% of the GDP. The Government should also pay attention on the organizations working under Anganbari.
SHRI BAL KRISHNA CHAUHAN: There are some shortcomings in the Constitution (93rd Amendment) Bill, 2001 introduced in the House. It was provided in Article 45 of Directive Principles that free and compulsory education will be imparted to the children in the age group of 10-14 years. The Government has changed it as 6-14 years. The process of bringing this provision to the fundamental rights has been started after 52 years. It will be the duty of every Indian Citizen to provide education to their children. The number of People belonging to Dalit and weaker sections is more. There is no arrangement for their education. I would like to request that it should be made a fundamental right after a proper thinking, because it is not clear as to what will happen to and who will take care of the children in the age group of 0-6 years who are 14 crore in number. The Government will impart education to these children after 6 years. The Government is amending this Constituion against the spirit of the Constitution. Therefore, I oppose it and request the Government to reconsider it.
KUMARI MAMATA BANERJEE: I rise to support the 93rd Constitution (Amendment) Bill. Though this Bill, right to education has been made as a fundamental right for children in the age group of 6 to 14. But we have to see the basic problems as to why, in our country, the dropout rate is so high, illiteracy rate is so high, why the school-going children sometimes cannot go to school, and education has become so expensive. If the Government can amend article 41 also from the directive principles to fundamental rights, then the basic problem relating to right to education would be solved. There are so many villages, where there is no power and where there is no drinking water facility.
This is the basic problem. In West Bengal, there is a district called Burdwan. They have declared Burdwan district as a hundred per cent literacy achieved district. But if we see the people, 50 per cent of the people are not able to sign. So, in the name of literacy, some State Government do this. I want to see that everybody should be literate. There is Operation Blackboard Programme. But if one happens to see the village, there is neither operation nor blackboard. The drop-out rate is very high especially among the girl children. My request to the Government is that it should be sincere to see that everybody should be educated. Why is this 6-14 age group alone? I will appeal to the Government that free education should be up to the college level for the girl children. To implement this programme, my suggestion would be to start food-for- work programme for the poor parents who are below the poverty line. So that they can send their children to the school. At the same time, there must be some monitoring or implementing agency.
SHRI JOACHIM BAXLA: The Government have brought this amendment Bill with utmost sincerity as education is an important subject. In view of this, I support this Bill on behalf of my Party. However, I feel this Bill is an incomplete one as it does not solve the problem for which it has been brought. There is no provision for 0 to 6 years of Children in this Bill. In order to incorporate it in the Bill, the Government will have to bring amendments in Directive Principles of the Constitution so that free education could be provided up to senior secondary level. Otherwise we will not achieve our objectives. I therefore, feel that provision be made for 0 to 6 years of children so that free and compulsory education be provided to them.
DR. (SHRIMATI) BEATRIX D’SOUZA: I rise to support the Bill. This important and long-awaited amendment making free and compulsory education a Fundamental Right is an acceptance by Parliament of an existing legal position. In the 1990s itself, the Supreme Court in the Unnikrishnan case and in the Mohini Jain case ruled that education is a Fundamental Right. I think, the age limit is quite arbitrary. The Government have to extend the age limit to the age of sixteen. Primary education has been called an unfinished business and it will remain unfinished, if we do not address it in its entirety. There is an apprehension that parents will be harassed if they fail to send their children to school. I believe that one should consider parental fundamental duty more as a principle than the responsibility of the parental community. I would very forcefully recommend an Education Cess in the next year’s Budget as this cess would democratize education in the country. Also, the Government should insist that one-fourth of MPLADS funds should be spent on classrooms and on computers. Free and compulsory education should also be quality education. With the decentralization of education the panchayats should be involved in popularizing the scheme. This is the core strategy of Lok Jumbish and the Shiksha Karmi Project.
At present, our education budget is top heavy and lop sided. Most of our funds go for higher education and only a small amount of budget is spent on elementary education. Our universities are continuing to churn out unemployed and unemployable graduates. Private industry and private educational institutions also have a social responsibility towards providing free education. India’s ultimate resource is human resources and neglect of education will retard the growth of human prosperity and the country’s economy.
SHRI C. SREENIVASAN: Our party believes that the key to social justice is education. Dravidian Movement played a significant role in creating an awareness to the masses to pursue education. The proposed Constitution Amendment on which we discuss now aims at providing education to all children between 6 and 14 years of age. It is only when children and growing youth are given proper care, we can hope for a bright future generation. The care for children below six is included only in the directive principles. We would have heartily welcomed if the government sought to make this aspect also a fundamental right of the children. Both the government and the parents must come together to ensure education to children. But at the same time, it is also necessary for the Government, which makes this Constitutional Amendment, to allocate adequate funds matchingly.
DR. A.D.K. JAYASEELAN: I rise to support this Bill. I can call it a progressive Bill or a reformative Bill. It would bring about a change in people’s thinking and improve quality of life. The Government has to give top priority to it because it involves the whole society. Everybody is entitled to get free and compulsory education. It is fundamental for the development of an individual as well as the country as a whole. Three important factors are involved in this field, namely the Central Government, the State Governments and the local bodies, students, and parents. So, there must be a kind of a holistic approach, then only this programme will succeed.
The Government has to allot more funds. In Tamil Nadu, in all Governments from the time of Kamarajar, education has been given importance. That is why Tamil Nadu is much ahead in the field of education. I think the Governments alone cannot do this job. They have to actually find some committed NGO’s to do this. The commitment is very important in this. Regarding parents, the Government has to motivate them and the students. But, unfortunately, because of social and economic factors, they are forced to keep their children at or send them to work. Regarding the period of ‘birth of six years’, I would say that it is a very important period. So, this period must be given importance. The Government should not stop it at the age of 14 years; they must extend it still further. This year is the International Year of Women. There must be free education for women up to college level. There are economically backward people in all communities who find it very difficult to spend; they do not have money to afford. So, the Government must come forward to help such people who are economically backward also.
SHRI AJOY CHAKRABORTY: Today is a remarkable day in Indian Parliament. We are stepping forward to give mass education. Mass education is the pre-condition of development of our country. I support the Bill with some modifications. Why is it only for children in the age group of six to fourteen? It should be between 0-18 years or up to school final examination, whichever is earlier. Secondly, why the Government are passing the responsibility on the guardians or parents. It is the duty of the State. I know that poor guardians or parents have no financial capacity and they cannot provide or afford to have the cost of education of their children. This is the condition of the lower class people. So, the problem of child labour is increasing day-by-day. I would say that it is not the duty of the guardian or the parent but it is the right and the duty of the State to bear the expenses for the education of the children. So, it should be deleted. If only the Government accepts my suggestions, the purpose will be served. Otherwise, we will not be able to achieve our goal.
SHRI SHRINIWAS PATIL: In Maharashtra and other sugarcane-growing areas, the sugarcane season lasts for more than 150 to 160 days. Lakhs of labour come from rural areas and stay around the sugar factories. Their boys and girls are not getting education because they have to be with their parents at the work palce. So, on the basis of this, in the places like brick-kilns, quarries, etc., where there is labour, if some teaching arrangements are made, the problem of teaching those boys and girls will be solved. In the hilly areas, where there is ample rain, it is not possible for the teachers to go to the schools and teach them. If the under-graduate, the B.Ed. people are given some fixed salary, they could be permanently posted in those areas. I hope this alternative arrangement will definitely solve the problem. The Government wants to give quality education. There is dearth of officers in the Army, Air Force, and Navy. In order to create opportunities for the students from the middle or lower middle class or people living below poverty line, the Government should even share the financial burden with the State Governments. If it is done, the problem of quality education will be solved.
DR. RAGHUVANSH PRASAD SINGH: The population of India was approximately 30 crore in 1930. But, at present, thirty four crore persons are deprived of education in India. At the first glance, it seems that this Bill will provide education to all, but it is also made clear in this that it is the parents responsibility to teach their children. Therefore, this Bill is a mere eyewash. This revokes the judgement of Supreme Court given in regard to children of 0-6 years of age. It means the Government are depriving education to the children, who are in the age group of 0-6. It will deprive 16 crore children to have basic education, which was provided to them by the Supreme Court in 1993. It shows that this 93rd amendment Bill has been brought to fulfil the objectives of the World Bank and IMF. It’s main objective is to deprive the basic education to children in the age group of 0-6 so that the Government could escape from its constitutional responsibility. I, therefore, reject this overture of the Government in regard to 0-6 years age of children as none of the Members of Parliament have agreed to accord Government’s view on this.
DR. SUSHIL KUMAR INDORA: The literacy rate of our country is 65 per cent. Inspite of that, education could not achieve the kind of status it should have got. Around seven crore children, out of twenty crore never reach up to the primary or middle school level of education. The Government intend to provide basic education to all the children. In this regard, I want to tell the Government that the positive steps that were supposed to be taken in the light of recommendations made by the Committees constituted for this purpose have not been taken. In the last Budget, hon’ble Finance Minister had announced Education Guarantee Scheme under which nine lakh primary schools were to be started by the end of Ninth Plan. That Scheme has not yet started. The way parents have been made responsible for improving the standard of education through this Bill, the objective cannot be fulfilled. Similarly, ‘Operation Black Board Scheme’ was started a few years back. That was a cheap and good scheme. But this scheme has also failed. This is the responsibility of the Government to take care of health of citizen of this country. The ratio of children and teacher in our country is 70:1. How can they provide good education in such a condition? My suggestion is to improve the socio-economic condition of parents and make education meaningful. The children will never get a quality education unless education is made meaningful.
SHRI G.M. BANATWALLA : Investment in education is the best investment for a nation. The Supreme Court recognises the right of the children to education to free education even before the age of six. The non-formal education of the children start today at the age of three or four years. This is an important shortcoming of the Bill which has to be rectified if we are to uphold the right of the children to free education. The concept of free and compulsory education is not defined in the Bill. Free education cannot mean merely exemption from payment of tuition fees and other school charges usually levied by the schools. Free education must also include free supply of textbooks, stationery, other study materials, at least, one meal a day, transportation charges, uniforms, and several other necessities. Word ‘compulsion’ needs to be properly defined. The word, ‘compulsion’ has to be understood in relation to the State and the obligation of the State to provide for free education. There must be specific provision to say that education provided must be of a reasonably satisfactory quality. This question of 14 years has also to be understood. Today, our educational pattern is different. If formal education starts at six, then six plus ten, free education must be guaranteed at least up to the age of 16 years. The Bill must come into force not later than one year after it gets the assent of the President. In order to see that the right is not an illusory right, the shortcomings must be removed.
SHRIMATI SONIA GANDHI : The main responsibility for providing education should be on the State rather than on parents since most of them in any case have to struggle for their living. The other very important point is about the quality of education. There should be a reference to quality in the Bill. It has become extremely necessary to spell out the content of the education offered to our children. The content must be secular and in keeping with the tenets of our Constitution. I would like to urge the Government to spell out the time by when education up to the age of six would be provided universally. Equally important is the question of the Centre’s responsibility for providing education. The Centre’s role, its responsibility and obligation, require a clear definition in the law. The Bill also says that the cost would be Rs.9,800 crore per annum. I
f we are really serious about fulfilling the objectives of this Bill, the actual provision of these resources must be guaranteed. The cost should really be shared by the Centre and the State Government and the administrative responsibility for implementation should be left to the States. The arrangements and methods for funding should be incorporated in the appropriate law. SHRI A.C. JOS : Article 21A is being sought to be added now. Article 21 says that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.” This article cannot come in there. It is against the scheme of things. I suggest that article 24 is the best place where this clause could be added. Article 24 says : “No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment. Article 21 might be the correct place to add this new article according to the interpretation of the Supreme Court but when you take into consideration the whole scheme of the Constitution, article 24 is the most appropriate place where this could be included.
THE MINISTER OF HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT, MINISTER OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AND MINISTER OF OCEAN DEVELOPMENT (DR. MURLI MANOHAR JOSHI) replying the discussion, said : This Bill has been drafted keeping in view the objectives incorporated in the national educational policy of 1986, the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, the report of the Committee headed by Shri Jaradan Reddy and the opinion of the Law Commission. The NEP is the national policy approved by the Parliament. We have deeply gone through it and there is no question of difference of opinion as the entire country has accepted the policy. As such, we are proceeding on that basis. A point was raised about how to allocate the funds to various States. In this connection it may be stated that the funds would be given through the Committees constituted by the States. The teachers are appointed by the Panchayats in an open meeting. All the village people sit together in the open meeting and take a decision on the teachers.
A point was raised as to why a provision was made in Article 51(a) about the Fundamental Duties. In this connection, it is everybody’s view that it is a duty. Apprehensions have been expressed that it will be punishable and will be a panel provision. In this connection, I would like to assure the august House that we have no intention to punish anybody. In this curriculum, all the religions will be given equal regard and there will be commitment to secularism. We will not allow a single provision in the curriculum which will hurt the feelings of any caste, sect, language or region. We do not want to ban any book but all the State Governments should also follow this policy. We should solve all the matters causing social tension very quickly and work for the economic progress and security of the country so that the 21st century belonged to us. A point was raised as to why the lower age of providing free education has been fixed at six and besides, why the child should not be given full rights. In this connection, in spite of knowing that resources mobilisation is a hard task, we have included elementary child education in Article 45. We have been holding talks with the Ministry of Health, the Planning Commission and the Finance Ministry as to how to make ICDS Programme very effective so that all the villages could be covered by it. There was a reference to mid-day meals. To ensure that children come to school, we need two things. First is that, they should possess sound health and their mothers also maintain a good health. We have constituted the nutrition mission for this purpose. In order to check drop-out cases, we are making every effort to provide meals at least once in the day. We have prepared ready- to- eat- food for far-flung areas in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, North-East and Uttaranchal. There was a question for making books and uniform free.
We have prepared a scheme for this purpose. It is proposed to provide free education up to BA level to girls and also to teach professional courses, medical and engineering free of cost to girls belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. China is our neighbour. We have to take a lesson from them. They have made a lots of efforts for last 20-25 years for education and health of their children. It is not an ordinary question but a serious one.
Today, the august House took a revolutionary step for the country by extending its support to this Bill. The Bill, as amended, was passed.