Legislation for Universal Primary Education

Education is an issue that is overtaking the Indian news in the past week with the court ruling on the OBC quota in the higher education system. However, primary education is also in dire need of attention. Supreme Court judges recognize the importance of primary education and have put forth a variety of proposals:

Provision of financial incentive to low-income parents so that they can send their children to school.
Criminally penalise those who receive financial incentive yet do not send their wards to school.
Penalise employers who preclude children from attending schools.
Penalty should include imprisonment.

Justice Dalveer Bhandari observed that monetary fines and a patchwork of laws will not suffice in tackling the issue, and suggested an increase in the education budget along with the more comprehensive proposals listed above. However, universal primary education requires not only increased budgets and legislation, but also resources to implement the goal on the ground and mechanisms to enforce the legislation. If the government is able to pass comprehensive legislation, that is only the first, albeit necessary, step.

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