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With folded hands,Sibal to Oppn: Help pass education Bills,children’s future at stake

There are as many as 14 education Bills pending,some for over two years.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
April 15, 2012 12:32:05 am

With folded hands,Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal today appealed to Opposition parties to support the passage of several education Bills that are stuck in Parliament saying the future of India’s children is at stake.

Speaking to The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta on Walk the Talk on NDTV 24×7,Sibal said he had personally reached out to the leaders of opposition parties,even visiting their homes in some cases.

“The fact is that in the Rajya Sabha we don’t have a majority. And,if somebody says,look,we will not pass the Bills,we will not even have them debated…what do we do? I have reached out,I have talked to leaders of the Opposition…I have gone to some of their houses. I have been to (BJP leader S S) Ahluwalia Saheb’s house. I said please tell me what your objection is. He said,no,we don’t have any objection. This order (to oppose the Bills) has come from above,” Sibal said.

There are as many as 14 education Bills pending,some for over two years. These include Bills to stop malpractices in educational institutions; to set up an accreditation authority; to establish a tribunal to decide on education-related disputes; and a Bill to allow foreign universities to set up campuses in India.

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Asked whether the Opposition was put off by his “arrogance”,Sibal said: “Quite frankly,arrogance is not my trait at all…If they want me to walk a mile,I will walk three miles…with humility. Because,ulimately this is about the future of India. This has nothing to do with Sibal at all. All these Bills have been cleared by the Standing Committee… that includes members from the Opposition as well. It is unfortunate,if the personal view of a particular person stands in the way of children benefiting. I am willing to walk three miles instead of one,just to see that the Bills are passed.”

“I am making a request to the Opposition that if you have a problem (with the Bills),I will come to you (to listen),but at least tell me what the problem is,” he said with folded hands.

On the recent Supreme Court order that has upheld the legal validity of the Right to Education and directed all schools to ensure that at least 25 per cent of their students belong to economically weaker sections,Sibal said the extra financial burden for the schools was only “marginal” at this point. The quota of 25 per cent has to be reached progressively in eight years,and by then,the schools can look at innovative ways to generate extra funds.

“You can raise funds from public sector corporations,from private industry,from multinationals. Schools can receive the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) funds. These companies are willing to provide funds…there are enough avenues to raise money. Today,globally people are willing to invest in education,” he said.

“Our calculations are that annually,we (the Centre) will be able to contribute between Rs 6000-19000 (per student). That may not be enough because in many schools,the expenditure is much more than that,and here I am talking about some elite schools. I am sure they will be able to raise (the additional) money because all the children and the alumni are themselves multimillionaires. So I don’t think it is a problem if we all realise that we are all stakeholders in taking the society forward,” Sibal said.

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