The state government is never tired of chanting ?Education for All?. But education in India has become a tool for social discrimination.
The Congress government in Delhi appears reluctant to implement the Delhi High Court order passed on January 10 this year, strictly directing it to ensure that 25 per cent of poor students are provided free education in public and unaided schools.
The opposition parties have been demanding and the public has been agitating for years, but the Delhi government has completely failed to do justice to the poor people and students. Now, with hand in gloves with the school management, the state government is talking of reducing the percentage from 25 (as directed by the Court) to 10 per cent. Whereas, as per the DDA Act, 1957 and the rules thereunder legislated by Parliament, the state government has no power to reduce or increase the percentage.
The talks of negotiation are not only hoodwinking the poor parents but are also tantamount to contempt of Court.
At present there are more than 1,500 school societies in Delhi that had given the assurance about admission and freeship to children of weaker sections to obtain land for schools. But after the schools became operational, the societies totally ignored it and the Delhi government too did not pressurise them to keep their word.
Arvinder Singh Lovely, Delhi’sEducation Minister, now pretends that his department is preparing the list of such schools. The fact is that the list is already with the government since the DDA, before allotting the lands at concessional rates, had obtained a report in this respect from the Delhi government’seducation department.
The new academic session in Delhi begins on April 1. Though there are several societies who on getting the land did not specify the percentage of admission, it was for the state government to frame and prescribe rules to ensure 25 per cent of admission.
?The schools that violate these directives of the High Court, should be liable to have their lease deed cancelled and lands surrendered to DDA by such societies and fresh lease deeds executed and fresh conditions inserted, so that well-meaning people come forward and there is an end to exploitation and commercialisation of education,? said Dr Harsh Vardhan, Delhi BJP president.
Coming down heavily on the move to hike the fees of other students on the pretext of the integration of poor students, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that there would be no additional revenue expenditure and the schools legally could not hike the charges of other students as the school managements, who have acquired public land, had to meet any marginal increase from their own resources as it was their responsibility.
He pointed out that fee-paying students were already being charged exorbitant and unjustified fees by these schools and parents had been fighting against it in the Court. The Supreme Court on February 11, 2004 had already reserved its judgement on the issue.
?It is a matter of shame that the government is planning the policies to promote commerciali-sation of education and its exploitation to deprive poor children of having good schooling and education.? Dr Harsh Vardhan appealed to the management of public schools to discharge their legal and social obligations to provide admission and freeship to the extent of 25 per cent to poor students, to enable the country to become a totally literate society and a developed one in the comity of nations.
Describing the age-old Indian tradition of imparting knowledge and enlightenment as the supreme and greatest service to humanity, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, ?In the highest tradition we had been imparting knowledge to the king and the commoner alike. Sudama and Lord Sri Krishna read together in a gurukul. It should be our earnest and honest endeavour to keep such high traditions alive and ensure that no child is deprived of the right to education for want of money or opportunities.?