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“Education is the most powerful weapon which can change the world”
Education has been, is and will be the most significant factor to continue civilization. The strength of any civilization lies in the education provided to its forthcoming generations. Education is that aspect of the human world that separates it from the animal kingdom. It requires a proper mechanism to keep it well-functioning. Its arm should cover the whole country and any ‘human’ should not be deprived of this natural right. This mechanism requires proper oiling (changes) from time to time to keep this system upgraded and able to handle upcoming challenges. As the ‘gurukul’ system was not able to handle the changes in society and get replaced by the school system. This school system will thrive only with the proper modifications in it otherwise it will not be able to serve humanity.
Providing education as a right to the citizens has been the topic of the political thinkers of India before many decades of Independence. The Constitution of India Bills, 1895 was the first such provision that talked about free education. Earlier, education rights were put in the category of justifiable rights but later it was transferred into the category of non-justifiable rights. This decision was taken by considering the financial burden on the state. Article 45 read “45. Provision for free and compulsory education for children The State shall endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.” After Independence, many developments have taken place which modified the education system and rights related to it. In this article, the provisions related to education in the constitution of India will be discussed.
PROVISIONS IN CONSTITUTION
The constitution provides provisions related to education which puts the obligations on the state to provide free education and some make special provision for the backward classes. Article 246 puts education in the concurrent list, earlier it was a state matter.
RIGHTS RELATED TO EDUCATION
ARTICLE 45: This article got amended by the 86th Constitution Amendment Act, 2002. Prior to this amendment, it read the same which is mentioned above. Now, it reads “45. Provision for early childhood care and education to children below the age of six years.—The State shall endeavour to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years.”
This right is mentioned in Part IV of the Constitution which contains Directive Principles of State Policy. They are unjustifiable rights which means citizens cannot approach the court for their enforceability. They act as guidelines for the government which state should adopt.
ARTICLE 51-A (k): This is the fundamental duty that puts a moral obligation on the parents or guardian to provide the opportunity of education to the children of age between 6 and 14. Again, these are not legally enforceable. This fundamental duty was added by the 86th Constitution Amendment Act, 2002.
ARTICLE 21-A:“ 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.” This article also was inserted by the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act. This is a justifiable right and people can get this right enforced by the government.
Before the 86th amendment, it was not obligatory for the government to provide education. It makes the obligation of the government to provide free education to children of age between 6 and 14. Now, the draft of the National Education Policy seeks to expand the scope of this right to include children from preschool years to 18 years of age.
Right to Impart Education: The Supreme Court, while giving judgment in the case of P.A. Inamdar v. the State of Maharashtra, held that the right to impart education is the fundamental right under Article 19 (1) (g), subject to control by Article 19 (6).
ARTICLE 15 (4): This article provides liberty to the government to make special provision for the people who are educationally backwards or SCs and STs. This article was added by the First amendment act, 1951. Through the 93rd amendment act, 2005, Article 15 (5) was added and it expanded the scope of admission to private institutions, aided or unaided, and also included article 19 (1) (g) in the category of rights which cannot restrict the government to make special provisions.
ARTICLE 46: This article provides the same obligations on the state as mentioned in Article 15(4) in addition to economic interest and social justice. The difference is that this is a moral obligation that is non-justifiable.
ARTICLE 30: Clause 1 of this Article lays down the provision for the establishment of the educational institutions according to their choice. Clause 2 provides that the state should not discriminate against any educational institutions, mentioned in clause (1), in providing the aid.
ARTICLE 29: This article lay down that the state should ensure that nobody is denied admission on the basis of religion, race, caste, language or any of them in any educational institution maintained or aided by the state.
Article 28 (1) provides that no religious education should be provided in the educational institutions which are maintained by the state and its exception laid down in clause 2 of this article.
Clause 3 of Article 28 restricts the government to put compulsion on the students to attend any religious ceremony which may be conducted in such institutions
POLICIES AND ADMINISTRATION OF EDUCATION
As mentioned above, Article 246 puts education as a concurrent matter and both the state and the union can make legislation over it. The union brings the National Education Policy to keep the policies of education updated to meet the new challenges. The National Education Policy 2020 is seen as the harbinger of some big changes in the policy of education of India. One of the main changes is related to the financial expenditure which will be increased from 3% to 6% of the GDP. Other such changes are related to the structure of school, graduation and post-graduation.
The other administration provisions related to the backward classes mentioned in Article 338-B mentions the National Commission for Backward Classes which is responsible for monitoring and formulating policies with the Union and the state governments for the socio-economic upliftment of backward classes.
The constitution puts some educational rights as obligations on the State and some as guidelines for the State. The Constitution has provided rights in the manner that nobody will be deprived of education, maintaining the secular nature of the country and legislative powers to the Union and the state. Education of one country makes its future generation and the world. The fall of the level of education is directly related to the fall of the country.
Vineeth Krishna E, Education #1: How did the Historical Constitutions Treat Education, Constitution of India (June 6, 2019) https://www.constitutionofindia.net/blogs/education__1__how_did_the_historical_constitutions_treat_education___.
Vineeth Krishna E, Education #2: Assembly’s Advisory Committee Dispatched Education from Fundamental Rights to Directive Principles, Constitution of India (June 10, 2019) https://www.constitutionofindia.net/blogs/education__2__assembly_s_advisory_committee_dispatched_education_from_fundamental_rights_to_directive_principles.
Vineeth Krishna E, Education #3: Constituent Assembly Takes up Free and Compulsory Education for Debate, Constitution of India (June 14, 2019) https://www.constitutionofindia.net/blogs/education__3__constituent_assembly_takes_up_free_and_compulsory_education_for_debate.
The Constitution of India