New Delhi: Ashwini Upadhyay, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi unit who is also a practising lawyer, has filed a public interest litigation at the Supreme Court demanding that the education imparted to all children between 6 and 14 years of age across the length and breadth of the country be the same.
While the demand goes against the idea of decentralisation, the Indian federal structure in which education is as much a State subject as it is of the Centre and parents’ right to offer their children the kind of education they want, Upadhyay has been consistent in this demand since the time he had resigned from the Aam Aadmi Party where he used to head the legal cell. Ever since, he has also tried to garner support for this move from several activists and groups including such outfits that believe in individual liberty.
Upadhyay contends that the education system prevailing in the country is “inconsistent with our declaration: ‘To constitute India into Socialist Secular Democratic Republic’. Classifying Article 21A (Right to Education) as a fundamental right, he finds it discriminatory that a child is subjected to a certain kind of schooling based on his social, economic and cultural background.
He believes such uniformity in education would ensure social, economic and political justice in society and also help it secure equality of status and opportunity.
The petitioner wishes this uniform education to inculcate values as well that, he says, will assure citizens of dignity and lead to unity among the peoples who together constitute the Indian nation. He optimistically believes that such uniformity would also address the issues of “corruption, crime, terrorism, casteism, communalism and radicalism”.
Upadhyay wants uniform education also for gender justice. “There is no place for discriminatory education in a civilised society,” he says.
If implemented, uniform education of the kind the BJP member wants “will achieve objects of Article 14 (equality before law), 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth) and Article 21A”.
Upadhyay says, “… many educationists, philosophers, thinkers, academicians, various expert committees and many prominent leaders, from the first education minister to present Loksabha speaker of our country” have stressed “the need of uniform education system having common syllabus and curriculum for all children of the age of 6 to 14 years.”
He finds that Finland, Denmark, Newzealand, Norway, Canada, Singapore, Australia, Germany, Britain and Japan are the “top 10 honest countries of the world” where the syllabi and curricula are uniform in what is termed as comprehensive schools, which makes his case stronger.