Call to revise bill on compulsory and free educationAmid criticisms from different quarters that the draft Bill on Compulsory and Free Education contradicts the constitutional spirit, the National Campaign for Education (NCE), an umbrella body of around 200 educational organisations, has called for revising several provisions.
Amid criticisms from different quarters that the draft Bill on Compulsory and Free Education contradicts the constitutional spirit, the National Campaign for Education (NCE), an umbrella body of around 200 educational organisations, has called for revising several provisions.
The NCE on Thursday submitted its recommendations to the Parliamentary Committee on Health and Education, pressing for incorporating provisions that ensure free education for every child. It has demanded clear definition of “free education”, which means no student shall be charged fees for tuition, admission, sports, extracurricular activities, laboratory, library, examination, repair and first aid. The draft bill is under consideration at the committee, which will finalise it before tabling in Parliament for endorsement.
According to the constitution, the bill must be endorsed by the federal parliament before September 19, the eve of the third anniversary of promulgation of the constitution. The statute guarantees the right of every student to free education up to Grade 12, be it from a private or public school. But the draft bill requires free education only for children going to public schools, putting it into a controversy.
Clause 20 (1) of the draft states that every citizen will have the right to free education up to the secondary level, but the next sub-clause has a prohibitory clause that one has to follow the conditions as prescribed by the law to enjoy the benefit. This gives room for the government to incorporate the line “one has to study in public schools to get free education” in the regulation that needs to be drafted for implementing the compulsory and free education law.
The NCE recommends that the proposed clauses concerning private schools be removed as they make no sense when the government covers all the expenses. Officials at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology also agree that the bill fails to live up to the constitutional spirit. They say that the Finance Ministry withdrew some of the provisions like free meal, uniform and stationery for students in rural areas citing a lack of funds.
“There must be separate monitoring mechanisms at the three levels of government involving civil society members to ensure that all the legal provisions are implemented,” read the recommendations.