Right to Education: Political parties in UP fight for credit

12 Nov

LUCKNOW: Poll-bound UP is now witnessing a war between political parties over Right to Education (RTE) with Congress, BSP and BJP trying to take the credit of this education-for-all scheme.

While Congress is saying that its government at the centre has passed the RTE Act, the BSP argues that it was dalit icon Babsaheb BhimraoAmbedkar who incorporated right to education in the Constitution of India, the BJP points out that Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government had in 2002 made free and compulsory education a fundamental right in the Constitution for all children upto the age of 14 years. Ironically, none of them have talked about the fact that November 11, which is celebrated as National Education Day, is actually held to mark the birth anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, India’s first education minister, who laid the foundation of modern education in free India.

The UPA government has circulated a letter written by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh which was read out to children in 14 lakh elementary schools in India on Friday. In the letter, Prime Minister has narrated his struggle for education and how, despite coming from poor rural family, he crossed all difficulties to acquire education. “I went to a school in a village that had no electricity. My village did not have a pukka road or fast vehicles. I would walk miles to reach my school…I worked as hard as I could and the nation has always rewarded me for my efforts,” the Prime Minister’s letter states. He also has stated that during his school days education was not free as it is now after implementation of RTE Act by the Congress-led UPA government.

To counter this, UP chief minister and BSP supremo Mayawati has issued a letter addressing children in three lakhs primary schools in UP. Mayawati has narrated how her grandfather Mangal Sen encouraged her to get education like her brothers and how she went on to acquire higher education, served as a teacher and social activist before joining politics. “Hard work and determination made me perform better than my brothers,” she has written. She has also stated that it was Ambedkar who as chairperson of the Constitution drafting committee had in 1950 introduced the provision of free and compulsory education in the Constitution for children upto 14 years of age. “Babasaeb fought castism and inequality to acquire education,” she said.

Significantly, now BJP has also joined the issue by giving credit to Atal Bihari Vajpayee government for amending the Constitution in 2002 to make free and compulsory education to all the children in the age group of 6-14 years as a fundamental right. “Right to education is a reality today because of the BJP-led NDA government under Vajpayeeji,” said BJP national vice-president leader Kalraj Mishra.

He slammed both Congress and BSP for trying to seek electoral gains by politicising education for children. Taking a dig at the `letter politics’ between the UPA and BSP governments, Mishra said that instead of fighting for credit, the focus should be on effective implementation of RTE. He added that the benefit of the RTE has not reached grassroots as yet.

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