Comrade Jharna Das Baidya's Speech on The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017

Date: 
August 01, 2017

Sir,
I welcome and support this legislation, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017. This Bill is a continuation of the historic legislation. In the Financial Memorandum, it has been clearly stated that clause 2 of the Bill provides for insertion of a new provision to sub-section (2) of section 23 of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 so as to provide that every teacher appointed or in position as on 31st March, 2015, who does not possess minimum qualifications as laid down under sub-section (1) of the said section, shall acquire such minimum qualifications within a period of four years. That is the crux of this Amendment Bill.

There are certain issues which the Government has to seriously consider and implement. One is the amount that is needed has been put in the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. I would like to point out what has been done in the last Budget of 2017-18. The media and the educationists have specifically pointed out that there is extreme neglect of the primary education in the Budget 2017-18. The Budget 2017-18 has been very disappointing for the education sector.

Out of 66.41 lakh elementary teachers 11 lakh are untrained.5 lakh in government schools and 6 lakh in private schools. They should have got trained by 31st March 2015. The bill gives time upto 31st March 2021. Their training is important to raise a quality of teaching. But many of them are SCs, STs and OBCs. Government has to help them particularly, but funds allotted in 2017-18 SSA has increased only by Rs. 1000 crores. This will not help to improve quality of elementary education.

A higher allocation of resources for school education, from primary school level to secondary level, was expected. But after a year of long waiting, school education has been totally neglected in the Budget. The Budget has ignored the effective implementation of the Right to Education Act and a meagre increase for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has been made in the Budget and only Rs. 1,000 crore is not going to help, in any way, to implement the Right to Education Act.

Sir, Education is both a Central as well as a State Subject. Both the Central Government as well as State Governments have to find adequate finance in the Central Budget and the State Budget for education. But unfortunately, we find that after passing and implementing this legislation, only 9.5 per cent schools in the country, as a whole, have implemented this measure. So this is a very serious task. We have certain data especially from the Northeast, in States like Nagaland where 42 per cent of Government Teachers are untrained. So it is a big challenge, as the hon. Minister pointed out in his introductory speech. There are States like Kerala or Tamil Nadu where there is excess of trained staff and many training institutions are now closing down one after another. At the same time, in the North-Eastern States we still need trained teachers. So the Government has to find a way out because on the one side, in some States we find that trained teachers are in excess and training institutions are getting closed down now. On the other side, especially in the North-Eastern States, we find that there are a large number of untrained teachers.
In the continuation of education also, one has to spend a lot of money, which an ordinary person cannot afford it.
So, in Government schools, I think, both the Central Government and State Governments have to think together as to how to provide better infrastructure. Sir, the hon. Prime Minister is always talking about ‘Swachh Bharat’ ‘Clean India’ but many of the Government schools do not have even toilets there. So, what about those schools, which do not have toilets, especially the girl schools? Like in Haryana about 7,000 girl students in Haryana are attending schools with either non-functional toilets or no toilets at all. We have got a mechanism of monitoring the Mid-Day Meal Schemes and other facilities in the States.
There should be nutritious food for the children. Education should not be an area where it should be run just for business. Our country has got a great history where education has been a voluntary mechanism by which deserving people have got education.

The record of the Left Front government in many areas of development, particularly in human development is no less than outstanding. The literacy rate in the state of Tripura has reached to 97 per cent, among the highest in the country. The female literacy rate is 95.71 per cent. With huge expansion of school education, free text books, free studies up to college level Tripura has virtually universalized education up to secondary stage. In Tripura there are around 28,000 untrained teachers in government school but they are doing an excellent job for education.

But unfortunately, here, it has become a mechanism or a way of making money. It should not be considered as an industry. It should be considered as an area where you contribute. The hon. Minister brings out this Bill and we all support it but the Government should take due care of the areas such as mid-day meal, infrastructure issues, etc. It is not only the responsibility of the Central Government but the State Governments should also come forward and contribute.

What I have found is, the Government must also inform this House as to how many unqualified teachers were barred from teaching since 2015 and as to how it has ensured that they do not sneak into schools to teach on ad hoc basis.

Therefore, my amendment is, you cannot control all these things at the Union Government level. Allow the respective States to take decisions, especially as this is the rights-based law. For any change that you want to make in the law, you have to come to Parliament, you have to get it sanctioned. For the rights-based law, why can’t we allow or empower the respective States to do this? 

With these words, I support the Bill.