Work on access to education for all

Putting all education online because of the pandemic is a concrete example of deprivation and refusal of poor students

In its judgment entitled Farzana Batool V. Union of India, delivered on April 9, 2021, observing that, “while the right to pursue higher (vocational) studies has not been stated as a fundamental right in Part III of the Constitution, it should be emphasized that access to vocational training is not a government largesse. Instead, the state has an affirmative obligation to facilitate access to education, at all levels, ”the Supreme Court hinted that its doors are open, albeit in dribs and drabs, for students who wish to pursue higher education and reach the zenith in their career.

In this case, two students from Ladakh were appointed by the administration of the Union Territory of Ladakh to be admitted to the MBBS course under the seats of the “central pool” apart from the Ministry of Health and Family. of the Union. But admission was not given. So they knocked on the door of the Supreme Court, which ordered the authorities to complete the admission formalities within a week.

Article 16

As the 1997 UK election approached, Labor candidate Tony Blair (who later became Prime Minister) said: ‘Ask me my top three priorities for government and I tell you: education, education and education. ” Unlike this, in India, candidates appease voters on the basis of caste, religion, gifts, leaving education to take a back seat or rather no seat at all. This abandonment of education is in spite of the fact that it is only because the citizens have realized their rights by educating themselves, India has obtained its freedom.

In accordance with Article 16 of the Constitution of India Bill 1895 (this bill was the first express request for basic rights of Indians), “free public education” was claimed as a fundamental right. The same was true of Annie Besant’s Commonwealth of India Bill, 1925, in which all persons in the Commonwealth of India were to have “the right to free elementary education”. But, under the Constitution of India (enacted in 1949), education became a guiding principle of state policy (DPSP). Under the original Article 45, the state was called upon to provide free and compulsory education to children up to the age of 14.

Dr BR Ambedkar, during the discussion on Article 45 in the Constituent Assembly on November 23, 1948, observed that the aim of making education up to the age of 14 a state obligation is that, in accordance with in Article 24, the engagement of a child under 14 years of age in hazardous industries is prohibited, therefore, as a child must not be employed in hazardous industries, he must be kept employed in an establishment teaching. The particular aspect of Article 45, which cannot be found in other articles of the DPSP, was that this direction was to be reached within 10 years of the entry into force of the Constitution (i.e. say before January 26, 1960), but the state completely failed to fulfill this constitutional mandate.

Private institutions

The state’s nonchalant approach to education led to a push for private educational institutions, which, by making education a “business”, limited it only to affordable classes. Seeing this, the courts took action and in Mohini Jain v. Karnataka State, [(1992) 3SCC 666], after observing that “the concept of” educational stores “is contrary to the constitutional regime and is totally odious to Indian culture and heritage”, the panel of two judges of the Supreme Court held that “the right to l he education is concomitant with the fundamental rights enshrined in part III of the Constitution. The state has the constitutional mandate to provide educational institutions at all levels for the benefit of citizens ”.

Simply put, this judgment held that education is a right of citizens of all ages. Reduce the tenure of Mohini Jain, a bench of five judges in Unnikrishnan JP v. PA State (AIR 1993 SC 2178), although ruled that education is not a business, but, while observing that the allocation of funds available by the State to different sectors of education will not allow the State to fulfill the other social protection activities prescribed by the Constitution, according to which “the right to education Free is only available to children until they reach the age of 14. Thereafter, the State’s obligation to provide education is subject to the limits of its economic capacity and development ”.

After the Supreme Court ruling in the Unnikrishnan case, Parliament inserted Article 21A into the Constitution through the 86th Constitutional Amendment Law of 2002, in which the right to education of children aged 6 to 14 has become a fundamental right. It is the fundamental duty under Section 51A (k) of parents and guardians to provide education for their children between the ages of 6 and 14. In accordance with the amended article 45, the state will endeavor to provide education for children up to the age of six. Thus, access to education for a student under 6 and over 14 is at the mercy of the state.

Specious argument

The state’s specious argument has always been that deserving students are admitted to government-run higher institutions, in which the educational needs of deserving students are met from public funds, making it a “classification eligible”. It should be noted that not all students are alike, as socio-economic conditions such as lack of infrastructure and initial education, hunger pangs, etc., deprive students of the opportunity to become deserving as soon as possible. the beginning.

The real life example of poor students being deprived of the privilege of education is the pandemic, which has transformed all online education. Without providing laptops / smartphones to students from poor backgrounds and rural areas, who hardly have the privilege of three meals a day, and also the lack of internet connection, we cannot expect internet access. education for all.

In Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India, [(2020) 3 SCC 637], the Supreme Court observed that Article 21A is the only fundamental right, which is a “positive right” which requires an active effort on the part of the government concerned to guarantee the right to education. Therefore, the state must start investing more in education bearing in mind that it is only through education that anything can be achieved.

(Dr GB Reddy is Professor, University College of Law, Osmania University. Baglekar Akash Kumar is a student at University College of Law)

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