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New education policy fails to legalise universal education for 3-18 yrs: RTE Forum

By Our Representative
Even as welcoming the the reiteration of increasing public investment in education to 6% of GDP in the recently approved National Education Policy (NEP), the Right to Education (RTE) Forum has insisted that the need for universalisation of school education for 3-18 years. Ambarish Rai, National Convener of RTE Forum, wondered, how could universalisation be achieved “as the policy is silent on the extension of the Right to Education Act, 2009.”
“The final policy talks about universalisation of school education for 3-18 years without making it a legal right. There is no mandatory mechanism for the union and state governments to make it a reality”, Rai said, adding, “There are significant drop-outs after elementary levels, especially among girls. The RTE Act confers a legal right, while a policy document doesn’t.”
Pointing out that the policy “mentions that vocational training of students will begin from Class 6” and this could have “an adverse impact as it will push children into the labour market, and their education will be discontinued”, Rai also objected to overt emphasis on digital education he feared would “promote segregation.”
“India currently doesn’t have adequate infrastructure to support this and more than 70% children from marginalised background could be excluded, as evident from the Covid-19 pandemic, where many children are missing online classes due to the digital divide in the country”, he said in a media release.
Taking exception to laying the entry of private players in the name from philanthropic schools and public-private partnership (PPP), Rai wondered why is the policy is silent on the Common School System (CSS), which was first recommended by the Kothari Commission (1964-66) and reaffirmed in the National Education Policies in 1968 and 1986, as amended in 1992.
“The only way to remove the discrimination in the school education system is to introduce a CSS in the country which will ensure uniform quality of education to all the children in the country,” he said.

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