The provision of free and compulsory education will soon be extended up to Class X. A proposal to this effect was approved at a meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education — the highest decision making body on education in the country — held here on Tuesday.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, provides for free and mandatory education only up to primary level — from Class I to VIII.

The CABE — represented by States and civil society members — also approved drafting of new legislation to check malpractices in school education. While the Union Human Resource Development Ministry has already introduced a Bill in Parliament to prohibit unfair practices in the higher education sector, it was agreed at the meeting to initiate a similar legislative proposal for in-school education sector also.

Briefing reporters at the end of the meeting, Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said two separate committees from within the CABE members would be set up to draft preliminary legislations which would be then sent across to the States before being approved. Both the committees, to comprise of State Ministers, academics and stakeholders, will submit their reports within three months.

“It was felt that every child in the country must have the right to at least 10 years for formal schooling. We have begun the process and will work out ways to provide for funds for the purpose, Mr. Sibal said.

The CABE committee on extension of RTE will look into finance, infrastructure and legal requirement. The Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, promising free education at the secondary level, is already in place and could become the vehicle for extending RTE till the secondary level. Bringing Class IX and X under the provision of the RTE will either require amending the existing Act or enacting a new law.

There was also unanimous endorsement of the need for a National Vocational Education Qualifications Framework (NVEQF) providing for a nationally recognised framework with vertical and horizontal mobility between general and vocational education. The group of State Education Ministers already constituted will develop a road map for implementation incorporating the requirements and concerns of all the States, Mr. Sibal said. The State governments will identify regional and local skills and develop curriculum content to feed into the NVEQF. The courses chosen should be locality specific to be implemented through planes devised by the States, which would be woven into a national grid within the parameters of NVEQF.

Another committee was also set up on university reforms that would look into the recommendations of the Vice Chancellors conference held in March that had called for major reforms in the university systems including financial independence and more autonomy like doing away with the convention of President being the Visitor of all Central Universities. It had also recommended allowing more colleges and institutions to grant degrees by doing away — as far as possible — with the affiliation system.

The meeting also discussed the need for integration of sports and physical education with academic curriculum as also introduction of “10 Great Thinkers of Modern India” in the syllabi of schools. The CABE expressed their concern for preservation of the linguistic diversity and resolved that measures be taken to protect and preserve endangered languages in the 12{+t}{+h} Five Year plan.

Keywords: RTEfree education