Free and compulsory education bill to be passed in July: Sibal

NEW DELHI - Enlisting his priorities, new Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal Sunday said his ministry’s top agenda will be ensuring the passage of the pending free and compulsory education bill in parliament by July.

“Hopefully the pending free and compulsory education bill, 2008 will be passed in July,” Sibal said in his first appearance as the HRD minister at an education fair organised by the industry body Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) here.

“Just passing the legislation is not enough, it must translate to reality on the ground. The basic problem is primary education. A bottoms up approach is needed as there is no access to primary education at the ground level,” he said.

The bill promises free and compulsory education for children aged between 6 and 14. Also, every school will have to earmark at least 25 percent seats in Class 1 for free and compulsory elementary education.

The minister said no civilisation can move forward without emphasis on knowledge and education.

“We must also remember we cannot afford access without quality. This is the challenge and I intend in next 100 days to quicken pace of change in this sector. Along with access point, we need to figure out how to provide teachers… How do we involve the community in doing this.

“Here technology can be put to use to access education - the IT sector can provide the solution like the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) did with its open learning programmes,” Sibal said, referring to the promise in the Congress manifesto of ensuring a broadband connection to every rural panchyat in next three years.

However, he also expressed concerns that the eleventh five year plan, which emphasises on education delivery, was still moving at a slow pace.

“Time is running against us, a whole generation would have lost out on education opportunities if we don’t speed up our pace by involving the private sector and enhancing investment from the public sector,” he said.


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