Kimmane Ratnakar, Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education in Karnataka government suggested for extending free education to Class 10. During the state level consultation for new education policy in the presence of various academicians and educationists, Ratnakar said, “There is a need for pre-primary education to be integrated with primary education. The need of the hour is to make sure that free and compulsory education, which covers only elementary level, is extended to the secondary level.”
Further he suggested that compulsory education should be extended till class 12 or at least till class 10 under the Right To Education (RTE) Act. Education department officials, educators, academicians, civil society groups and representatives were also present at the gathering to debate and discuss problems and solutions in the current education system. Vice-Chancellors of various universities, representatives from non-governmental organizations and department officials brainstormed on the symptoms plaguing the education system.
National Education Policy consultations are being held at gram panchayat, taluk and district levels by the State Government on 13 themes pertaining to school education and 20 themes on higher education. The various themes will then be compiled and presented to the Ministry of Human Resource Development for the formulation of NEP. After 29 years, central government is drafting new education policy. First national policy on education drafted in the year 1986, amended in 1992, has been the guiding document till date.
Highlighting about the integration of pre-primary education with primary education he said, “Currently, the anganwadis are being run by Department of Women and Child Development and schools by Education Department. Integrating the two may help reduce privatization.”
V P Niranjan Aradhaya, fellow at the Centre for Child and Law, National Law School of India University while emphasizing over the plan of bringing pre-primary and primary education under one department said, “as such there is no need for a policy to extend compulsory education from the primary level to the secondary level but if the pre-primary and primary education are brought under one head, it will definitely help the government against privatization.”
On the higher education front, B. Thimme Gowda, Vice-Chancellor of Bangalore University, batted for common syllabus across the states so as to bring the uniformity. He also laid emphasis to integrate vocational education to higher education. He said “there was a need to encourage scientific temper among students and ensure that all schools are equipped with labs as the number of people pursing pure sciences is declining.”
Once the students get enrolled in pre-primary school, their parents wish that students continue with their studies in the same school till primary level and beyond. As per the Section 11 of RTE Act, the government is required to make necessary arrangements for pre-school education. But as far as extending compulsory education to secondary level is concerned, a policy is needed for the same. Provisions are there within the Act itself and an amendment to it will suffice.