A bill aiming to provide free and compulsory education for children (age group 6-14) was introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 31, 16 years after the idea was mooted. “This was a matter of national importance for the UPA government. This Bill is just not about taking children to school but a Bill that speaks about quality education. It speaks about the physical infrastructure, teacher-pupil ratio and qualification of teachers,” Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal said after introducing the Bill. The minister expressed confidence that the next census in 2011 will show 10 to 75 per cent jump in literacy rate.
He said, “But we cannot be satisfied with this,” adding that the landmark bill sought to put the onus on the government to ensure free and quality education to all the children in the country. Mr. Sibal said, in several states schools lacked infrastructure and in some rural areas there were no teachers. In a veiled reference to political indoctrination in school syllabus, he said, “We do not want an education that defies Constitution.”