December 18, 2002
The right to compulsory education in India

Cards on the table. This is a holding post, to make sure that something goes up on December 18th, in case I don't manage anything more substantial later, during the real day itself, so to speak, during which I will be very busy.

My text and link is from and to the Hindu Times, who report on a "right" which is to be forced upon the children of India which, so goes the plan, they will have no right to resist:

New Delhi, Dec. 16. (UNI): Education for children between 6-14 years of age has become a fundamental right under the Constitution of India.

The President has given his assent to the Constitution (93rd Amendment) Bill, 2002, to this effect and the same has since been notified in the Gazette, an official press note said today.

Article 21 of the Constitution providing for fundamental right to life and personal liberty has been amended to make education up to high school a fundamental right for all citizens of India.

This amendment will be enforced from a date to be notified by the Department of Education in the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

All State governments and Union Territory administrations, will, thereafter make arrangements for compulsory education for all children throughout the country to herald India's march to hundred per cent literacy of its citizens.

It is depressing to read a report in which a right is to be enforced upon those who are supposedly to have it, without any sense that a contradiction of any sort might be involved.

And the report is also depressing because India is now one of the countries where truly voluntary education is spreading very fast. I suppose it was too good to last. Making education compulsory will corrupt it, and corrupt the "private sector" suppliers who will doubtless now be queueing up to supply the slighly less bad bits of this "service", as well as the utter rubbish product that will actually be paid for by the government.

I wonder if part of this story is that the current strongly Hindu nationalist Indian government doesn't want the Muslims of India to control their own education as much as some of them are controlling it now. Because whenever a government says that something is compulsory, they get to describe what that thing is. Maybe there are Indians or expert India watchers out there who can elucidate. Mixing religion, politics and education can result in some very hot dishes.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 02:12 AM
Category: Compulsion