Sibal’s education reforms only on paper, say irate students

July 10th, 2009 - 7:25 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 10 (IANS) Holding placards and shouting slogans, students from different universities here Friday protested Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal’s educational reforms agenda, and said the government should first make education a reality for every child - something that still remains a dream for many.
“What Right to Education are we talking about? Parents today are a harried lot, fighting against fee hike in private schools. And in the name of Right to Education the government talks about educational vouchers - which is just about Rs.250 per month - hardly enough to match up to one of those good private school where a child dreams to get quality education,” Ravi Rai of the All India Students Association (AISA) said.

The protest was held at Jantar Mantar, an astronomical observatory Rajput King Sawai Jai Singh II built in 1710, in the heart of the capital.

“Also, instead of the present policy of reserving 25 percent seats for poor students for free education in private schools, the Right to Education Bill should talk about free public-funded quality education for all up to Class 12,” Rai said.

“This will end the present divide between the quality education for the more well off children and sub-standard education for others,” he added.

The union cabinet July 2 gave its approval to the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill that, among other things, envisages 25 percent reservation for weaker sections in private schools.

The government plans to present the bill in the month-long budget session of parliament and is on top of the human resource development ministry’s agenda for the next 100 days.

The proposed legislation envisages free and compulsory education to children in the age group of six to 14.

Rajan Pandey, a protesting student, said that before chalking out reforms in the education system, the government should give a greater allocation of the budget to primary education.

“Like many NGOs and other bodies have been lobbying for, the government should spend at least six percent of the GDP on education so that education can become affordable to all,” he said.

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