NEW DELHI: After facing flak for dropping a recommendation of the draft National Education Policy (NEP) to extend the Right to Education Act to cover all children aged 3-18, the Union Human Resources Development Ministry has since restored but reworded it.
While the provision was dropped in the previous version of the draft NEP on the grounds of cost escalation, the clause is back in the latest version that is being sent by the HRD ministry to the Prime Minister’s Office.
The reworded clause is a tad ambiguous on its universal extension. It says: “the Act will be reviewed to ensure that all students, particularly students from underprivileged and disadvantaged sections, shall have free and compulsory access to high quality and equitable schooling.”
Sources said a presentation on the draft NEP is likely in the PMO soon before it is taken to the Union Cabinet. The Act at present covers children aged 6-14. The first NEP draft had suggested downward and upward extension of the Act.
Critiquing the rewording of the clause, BHU’s Prem Shankar Ram said: “I would have wanted to see an uncompromising, straight universal extension of RTE for all children aged 3-18 in the country.” Educationist Anjela Taneja said, “the language regarding RTE review and de-regulation remains worrisome as the new document seems to suggest the possibility of removal of national input quality norms that are being deemed to be ‘restrictive’.”