Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

A sovereign country stands on fundamental rights of the citizens. We have our set of fundamental rights enshrined in our constitution. They are: right to equality (art 14-18), right to freedom (arts 19-22), right against exploitation (art 23-24), right to freedom of religion (art 25-28), cultural and educational rights (art 29-30) and right to constitutional remedies (art 32)

But there is no Right to Education in this list. The educational right is not right to education. It is limited to the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions “of their choice” (Article 30). So, this Article does not grant the general citizenry the fundamental right to education.

The eighty sixth amendment that brings in education to the list of Fundamental Rights, is nothing but a trick played by politicians on our peoples. The very language used, “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine” needs no elaboration on its frustrating design.

Government of Orissa has admittedly not posted Principals in 5491 Upper Primary Schools. Over and above this, there are 43,198 teaching posts vacant in Lower Primary Schools by the end of 2008. A posting in these pages on February 13 carry the official version placed before the Orissa Legislative Assembly that shows that the number of vacancies has increased from 27,840 vacancies noted in 2004. There are three thousand plus single teacher schools which means only one teacher is taking up classes from one to five in those schools in rural Orissa. When teachers are not there to teach, how is primary education being imparted to all the children of the age of six to fourteen? Is the Government taking education as a fundamental right of the children of this age group?

It is clear from the above sample instance that even the Government does not consider education a fundamental right.

The 93rd Amendment effected on Article 15 has given power to ruling politicians to reserve seats in government and/or private educational institutions for “any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes” and obviously, as witnessed, with a design for the vote box.

It is interesting to note that Right to Equality, which is the first Fundamental Right, under Article16, has guaranteed equality of opportunity to all in the matters of public employment. The purpose of this Article is being defeated. For all sorts of public employment the authorities have prescribed a corresponding minimum education. For example to become a teacher in a government college, the minimum education required is a doctoral degree. How can an uneducated person take advantage of equality in opportunity for the post of a college teacher? So, this fundamental right to equality in opportunity for public employment is defeated unless education is included in the list of fundamental rights sans any restriction such as age.

It is to be noted that education is placed under the Directive Principles of State Policy, which is not enforceable under the laws.

So the problem of lack of education in case of most of the Indians will continue to defeat the fundamental right to opportunity till education is not declared a fundamental right.

Let the lawmakers think of this afresh.

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