People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
The 93rd Constitution Amendment Is Anti-Poor
THE December 2,
2001 issue of People’s Democracy exposed the fraudulent nature of the 93rd
constitutional amendment bill. Later the parliament adopted this bill and passed
the 93rd amendment act on November 28, 2001.
stated as follows:
state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of
6-14 years in such a manner as state may by law decide.”
On first sight this
appears to be a great step forward from the provision of article 45 of our
constitution, in which we have only a directive principle, with the expectation
that it would become a law within ten years of the adoption of the constitution.
But a careful look at the formulation will show that the amendment act strikes
at the poorer sections of our society whose children are either totally denied
education or deprived of good quality education.
Education is a
continuum, and how a child performs in school from the age of 6-plus is fully
dependent upon the inputs it gets before the age of 6. This includes not only
pre-primary schooling, but also the nutrition the child and its mother gets
right from the time of its conception. It is this basic right, which would have
come to the child through article 45 partially, but is being taken away by the
stipulated grouping of age from 6 to 14.
In the recently
held meeting of the UNESCO preparatory committee for the World Summit on
Sustainable Development (WSSD), the position paper submitted on March 25, 2002
reiterated the demands of the Dakar World Education Forum of the year 2000. The
theme Education for Sustainability lists the six goals adopted in 2000. The
first of these goals relates to pre-primary stage education and childcare. The
six goals of Education for All (EFA),
that are the priorities for sustainable development, are given in the box
It can easily be
seen that the 93rd amendment act strikes at the first goal, namely of the early
childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and
disadvantaged children, since the state has washed its hands off any
responsibility for the age group 0-6 years.
This is only one of
the negative features of the amendment.
The All India
Secondary Teachers Federation (AISTF) took the initiative to raise these
objections to the amendment through a petition to the prime minister on the
subject of Free and Quality Education for All. The ATSTF has decided to
approach the people of this country in a massive signature campaign. This
initiative of the AISTF has been welcomed by the All India Federation of
University and College Teachers Organisations (AIFUCTO), whose national
executive committee meeting held in Gwalior on May 14 decided to join its forces
in mobilising the people through such a signature campaign. The Federation of
Central Universities Teachers Associations (FEDCUTA) also endorsed the decision.
The teachers’ organisations at the secondary, higher secondary, college and
university levels in the country are all committed to the demands listed in the
The petition to the
prime minister notes that two-thirds of India’s (disadvantaged) children are
deprived of nursery and pre-primary education; it is only the richer sections
who are able to send their children to nursery and pre-primary schools. Thus the
children of the poor who do enter primary schools, do so with an added
disadvantage of having no educational background. The results of
under-nourishment have also to be remembered.
The amendment act
neglects the question of quality education for the poor. By leaving it to the
states, the union is giving up its responsibility of defining and standardising
The other question
is that of financial commitment from the government. The central government has
declared its intention to spend Rs 98,000 crore on the EFA scheme in the next
ten years. This is much below the actual requirement, and even below the
recommendations made by the government-sponsored committees like the Tapas
Mazumdar committee or S B Chavan committee. The Tapas Mazumdar committee has
recommended a budgetary provision of Rs 1,37,000 crore for the next ten years,
which works out to Rs 13,700 crore a year as against the stated provision of Rs
9,800 crore a year. In 1988 the S B Chavan committee had recommended Rs 40,000
crore every year. Thus, on all accounts, the present announcement is grossly
therefore makes the following five demands to the prime minister:
1) Take the age
group 3-16 instead of 6-14 for provision of free and compulsory education. That
will cover pre-primary to secondary education (standard ten).
2) Accept the
Mazumdar committee recommendations of an incremental provision every year of 0.7
per cent of GDP from the year 2002-03 to reach 6.5 per cent of GDP in the 10th
3) Make quality
education free and compulsory for all sections of people.
4) Provide, in the
public sector, 0-03 education and development schemes (childcare) to the
5) Free and quality
education should be imparted through public sector institutions and schools
The Gwalior meeting
of the AIFUCTO urged upon all teachers’ organisations to join in this campaign
and collect one crore signatures from the people of India by December 2002.
AISTF president Feroz Badshah and its leaders Indra Shekhar Mishra and Dhani
Ramsingh Negi have urged upon all human rights activities and other NGOs also to
join in this campaign.
When the people of
this country fought for freedom, they also fought for an economic and social
content. This included the demand of education for their children. This
aspiration was enshrined in the constitution given to us by Dr Babasaheb
Ambedkar and other members of the Constituent Assembly. By conducting this
signature campaign, we shall be reminding the people of our country of this
solemn responsibility of the government, from which the present rulers are
trying to run away. This is truly a democratic and revolutionary task before all
the teachers from the kinder garten level to the postgraduate level (KG to PG)
and one must see to it that KG-to-PG unity will be forged for this purpose.