Law on implementing fundamental right to education in making

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New Delhi, Mar 5 (UNI) The Government was drafting a law for implementation of education as a fundamental right, Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh said here today.

''Provision of free and compulsory education for the relevant age group of six to 14 years has been mandated by our Constitution as a fundamental right, and we are in the process of making a law dedicated to this objective,'' he said.

Mr Singh was speaking after inaugurating the second Meeting of the Regional Forum of Ministers of Social Development of SAARC here.

Underlining that even the most impressive and robust economic progress was rendered meaningless if social development lagged behind, he said one of the most critical aspects of social development has to do with education.

In this context, he cautioned against leaving education to private players.

''Even though there are limits to public funding, and there may be temptations to opt for market determined policies on grounds of efficiency, education can be left to the market forces only at our peril,'' he said Pointing out that a nine-fold allocation had been proposed for education in the country's 11th Five Year Plan over the 10th Plan, he said,''expansion of opportunities must be accompanied by a concern for equity, particularly, in the access to education for the marginalized sections of populations.'' Education was also a sector where each of the nations had a vital stake, Mr Singh said, adding that apart from education, there were equally good reasons for focusing on the other social development issues like public health.

As a sequel to the First Forum of Ministers on Social Development of South Asia who met on May 26-27, 2006 in Bhurban, Pakistan, this Meeting is the second in the series of UNESCO's and the Regions initiative to organise a network of Asian Ministers of Social Development.

The purpose of the Forum is to establish a network among the countries of the region to address issues related to social justice and development in the overall theme of the social sciences research and its policy-linkages and in particular, the contribution that social sciences can provide to the policy making process.

As agreed at Bhurban, India had been honoured by member countries by asking her to assume the Chair of the Forum for the current year.

The theme selected for the Second Forum Transparency, Right to Information and Social Development' reflects the shared vision of good governance common to all the Governments of the region.

The Ministers of Social Development of South Asian countries, from Afghanistan, Maldives, Ministers of Women, Children and Social Welfare from Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka and Minister of Education from Bhutan participated in the meeting.

Mr Skweyiya, Minister of Social Development of South Africa and the President of the Management of Social Transformation Programme and Mr Pierre Sane' from UNESCO also spoke during the inaugural function.

UNI NAZ MS KN1809

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