I am forwarding this exchange of emails on the 'THE RIGHT OF CHILDREN TO FREE AND COMPULSORY EDUCATION BILL, 2008' in Rajya Sabha in the hope that it would interest you. I will be sending more communications in this regard in the near future and seek your support in building pressure on the Rajya Sabha to radically amend this neo-liberal Bill or recommend its replacement by a freshly drafted Bill within a specified time period.
Your observations would be most welcome.
Ms. Kavita Srivastava
I have seen your email expressing joy on the tabling of the 'THE RIGHT OF CHILDREN TO FREE AND COMPULSORY EDUCATION BILL, 2008' in Rajya Sabha during the session just concluded. I have also noted your reference to plans for a national campaign, including "plan[ning] a siege of the parliament, a banner campaign." In light of your emails, I am persuaded to assume that your national campaign is likely to be aimed at promoting the afore-mentioned Bill in the Rajya Sabha. I take this opportunity to draw your attention to the following weblinks of my two articles on the Draft Right to Education (RTE) Bill (i.e. Feb 2008 version sent by the HRD Ministry to the Cabinet Secretariat) – TEHELKA (14 June 2008) and THE FINANCIAL EXPRESS (09 November 2008). Here are the weblinks:
To add to this forthright critique of the Draft RTE Bill, please look at my commentary (TEHELKA, September 2007) on the 6,000 model schools of XI Plan:
Together, these three short articles provide a critical perspective on the current neo-liberal policy framework guiding the Rajya Sabha Bill, as I perceive it.
My Hindi article in Dainik Bhaskar (30 December 2008) argues that the Rajya Sabha Bill fails to provide equal opportunities to the vast majority of India's children with respect to their aspirations for future occupations/ careers and favours the privileged sections. This is basically due to its (a) legitimization of multi-layered discriminatory school system; and (b) denial of right to free education of equitable quality after Class VIII i.e. up to age of 18 years until senior secondary stage
I am yet to complete writing a systematic critique of the version tabled in Rajya Sabha but the Draft Bill of Feb. 2008 is quite similar – more than 90% common provisions in both versions, with only the text shifted in the Rajya Sabha version to further deny Right to education of equitable quality. To be sure, the latest version is further diluted on several counts. On this, you will hear later.
I am hoping that you would be inclined to read the above articles of mine before you launch your campaign. In view of your long tradition of defending democratic rights, I have great expectations that you would take an objective view of this neo-liberal Bill and stand up for the Constitutional Rights of India's children.
This is the first of my communication to you in this regard. More will follow soon.
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