|Government in no mood to amend J&K School Education Act|
|'Fundamental right across the country, compulsory in J&K'|
Jammu, Nov19: Notwithstanding the fact that Right To Education (RTE) has become a fundamental right in India, the government of Jammu and Kashmir is yet to come out clear on the issue as to whether the existing state law shall be amended to make the education as fundamental right. Interestingly the political dispensation in the state has, so far, failed to make any serious effort in this direction.
The right to free and compulsory education has become a fundamental right for children of age group 6 to 14 years across India, however the same has been denied to the children of the state. If attention of the political establishment is drawn towards this important issue, it is sure, they will offer the same explanations, they offered to the question of incorporation of 73rd amendment of the Indian Constitution in the J&K Panchayati Raj Act. Actually our present dispensation is taking refuge in Article 370 of the constitution of India which guarantees the special status of the Jammu and Kashmir within the union of India. But it is no more a secret that the political mentors of the present dispensation surrendered every thing for power but always projected 370 as the lame excuse when it came to doing any service to the people of this state.
Anyway, without losing sight, the Jammu and Kashmir government had, earlier this year, constituted a committee to have a in-depth and comparative study of the central Right to Education Act and the Jammu and Kashmir School Education Act and to recommend necessary amendments to the state Act to bring it at par with the Central Act. However, sources in the Education department told Early Times that the committee has not met even once during this period not to speak of recommending amendments to the existing law. Though higher ups in the department maintain that the department was studying the two laws and was seeking expert opinion from educationists, academics and legal experts but they too admit that the process was at the preliminary stage.
If sources are to be believed, the NC-Congress coalition Government seems to be in no hurry to make the right to education a fundamental right in the state. That simply means that the present Government is least bothered about the removal of deficiencies in the existing state law. While justifying their silence on the issue, the political bureaucracy claims that there are provisions of free and compulsory education up to 8th class, however, they refuse to buy the strong argument that there is a hell of difference between the words "fundamental" and "compulsory". It could be established beyond any doubt that the present dispensation has become habitual of beating the old drums, particularly when it comes to incorporating certain good features of central laws through our own legislature.
The Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act which is full of lacunas was still more "comprehensive" than the Central Act because it is good for nothing. Panchayati Raj has brought revolution in India and strengthened the democratic institution on the gross roots level in the country but J&K Panchayat Raj Act is still "comprehensive" as it is a non-starter. Similarly the J&K School Education Act is "very comprehensive" because it makes education up to class 6th or 8th compulsory. And "compulsory" is "more appropriate" than fundamental because it deals with penalty clause of the Act.
Anyway, this government has its own dictionary and has also its own pronunciation where "Acat" replaces Act, "whytiate" replaces vitiate, so on and so forth.
When contacted, Commissioner Secretary Education, Farooq Ahmed Fakhtoo said, " A committee has been constituted to study both the Acts, however, it is at the preliminary stage".
"We are contemplating to hold a workshop soon to illicit views from the experts which could provide basis for future course of action on the issue", Fakhtoo told Early Times.
He said that the Education Department in collaboration with SSA is working on holding a workshop on the issue. On whether the expert committee constituted has started working, Fakhtoo said that consultations are on and the things are being discussed seriously.
He informed that making right to education a fundamental right is also a concern of the state government as such "an informal committee" of the experts from Education department in consultation with some of the members of the Task Force - constituted by Government of India - is studying both the Acts.
" After examining both Acts, the Committee would send its recommendations to the Law Department on whether to adopt RTE Act or bring it in a modified form in the Assembly" Fakhtoo said.
However, insiders maintain that expecting something good from a government which could not overcome the problem of deficiency of teachers in the primary and secondary schools even after four years, is foolish.
According to them Jammu and Kashmir presents a gloomy picture with as many as 12000 posts of teachers, masters, lecturers and non-teaching positions lying vacant in the department.
In its report presented during the last budget session of the assembly, the Estimates Committee had made startling revelations about the dropouts.
According to the report about 39,000 students have dropped out of the schools (mainly at primary level) and the scarcity of teachers has also affected the results at secondary and higher secondary levels. However, when at any point of time, the government is taken to task for poor performance of the students in the examinations, it, without wasting any time grills poor officials either in the Education Department or the State Board of School education. Immaterial, whether critics including the vested interests in the government appreciate, the BOSE has been doing an excellent job in conducting examinations of lakhs of students across the state and it is beyond any doubt that the functioning in the BOSE has been streamlined during last one or two years. But people having developed huge vested interest were criticizing the BOSE for the faults of others. Now, one is at liberty to enquire about the vested interests. ETT mess is the reply-a simple one.
Again without losing sight, as per the Estimates Committee report, out of these 11689 posts, 5,548 are vacant in Kashmir province and 6,141 in Jammu region. The vacant posts include those of teachers (including RETs) masters, lecturers, non-teaching and Class-IV staff.