Thursday, May 3, 2012

Editorial in LAW ANIMATED WOLD, 15 April 2012 issue: "RIGHT TO EDUCATION"


is, doubtless, an inalienable part of the right to life of human beings in society, and it has been so recognized by various national and international covenants and basic laws. It was the Mohini Jain decision of the early 1990’s which, for the first time, breathed this right into the right to life guaranteed by Article 21 of our Constitution but, sadly, it has been reversed by a later larger bench of the Apex Court. Coming just a year later, the Unnikrishnan decision struck a via media by recognizing the need for free or affordable higher education to the economically weaker and deprived sections and allotting them at least 50% of ‘free’ seats in all private colleges, which did contribute to stem the tide of trading in education to a considerable extent. However, coming about a decade later, the TMA Pai Foundation decision by thirteen heads of justice has unfortunately reversed the trend of catering to the weal and woe of the ‘wretched of the earth’ by putting a firm stamp of approval on the almost indiscriminate commercialization of education that began to run full speed in the recent phase of capitalist globalization. The damaging effects of this deplorable decision are there to be seen not only in the sphere of higher education but even in the field of primary education. It may be noted that soon after this TMA Pai decision, free and compulsory primary education to all children of 6-14 years age was made a fundamental right by bringing a new Article 21-A into our Constitution. The recent Apex Court decision validating the RTE Act passed by the Parliament in pursuance of Article 21A, which directs private educational institutions also to share the burden, to some extent, of rendering free education to the children, is being hailed as a blow for the rights of children, especially of the weaker sections. But the point remains that it is not just some but all children, i.e. each and every child, that are entitled to the benefit of this basic right. In this context, the very privatization of primary education comes up for questioning; and it seems the sooner it is done away with and replaced by a caring and efficient public education system the better §§§

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