House disruption hits education reforms After the end of Parliament’s monsoon session, 13 HRD Bills are still pending

12 Sep

New Delhi, September 11
The country’s education reform agenda has been hit hard by the continued disruption of parliamentary proceedings. At the end of the monsoon session — the eight session of the 15th Lok Sabha that commenced in June 2009 — as many as 13 Bills of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) were pending at various stages.

Among those pending are some very significant ones including the Bill to set up educational tribunals for out-of-court redress of educational disputes; another to amend the 2007 National Institutes of Technology (NIT) Bill to strengthen these premier technical institutions and grant national status to five Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER) at Mohali, Kolkata, Bhopal, Pune and Thiruvananthapuram to enable them to confer degrees; another to amend the RTE Act to include disabled children in the definition of the disadvantaged.

The non-passage of the NIT Bill means IISERs can’t award degrees as they are not governed by an Act of Parliament. The move endangers the future of students of IISERs Kolkata and Pune which started functioning in 2006.

Picture this: in the 26-day monsoon session, only one Bill — The National Council for Teacher Education Amendment 2010 (of the seven listed for consideration) — was passed by both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. This Bill empowers the NCTE to lay down uniform teachers’ qualifications for schools across India in the wake of the RTE Act.

That apart, even the most urgent Bill replacing ordinance listed in this session — The Indian Institute of
Information Technology Kancheepuram Bill 2011 (to accord national importance to this institute and recognise degrees awarded to its first batch which enrolled in 2007) — could not be passed as the Upper House failed to take it up after the LS cleared it on August 25.

Since the Bill remains pending, the ordinance may lapse, forcing the HRD Ministry to find new way to safeguard students’ interests. Sadly, the Bill got stuck in the RS after Congress’ JD Seelam objected to the absence of a quota policy for faculty in institutes of national importance.

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal’s explanation that reservations existed only for students failed to calm frayed tempers of socialists, who quickly jumped on to the quota bandwagon and junked the Bill.

A similar fate awaited the Educational Tribunals Bill 2010 which the LS had passed on August 27 last year. Even this Bill had been thwarted in the RS by Sibal’s colleague Keshav Rao, who had wanted Sibal to honour parliamentary committee recommendations. A year on, the Rajya Sabha failed to take up the legislation even though the ministry had incorporated some parliamentary panel suggestions.

 

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