Official sources said that a high empowered committee has been constituted on the instructions of the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who holds the portfolio of the department after ouster of Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed, to study the need for making necessary amendment in the state Act.
Though the coalition government, sources said, is in no hurry to make right to education a fundamental right in the state, the Committee has been asked to “minutely study the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir School Education Act Right to Education Act, enacted by the center in 2002” so as to suggest the need to incorporate any amendments in the state Act.
Although, as per the Jammu and Kashmir School Education Act, there is a provision of free and compulsory education up to 8th class but it is yet to become a fundamental right for the children of the state.
As the Central laws are not applicable in the state until passed in the State Assembly due to Article 370, therefore, the State Education Department has been studying both Acts so that good aspects of the Right to Education Act could be incorporated in the JK School Education Act and deficiencies if any could be removed, sources said.
When contacted, Commissioner Secretary Education, Farooq Ahmed Fakhtoo said, “Our own Act, Jammu and Kashmir School Education Act has many better provisions. In many aspects, it has better clauses than the RTE Act. Although, right to education is not a fundamental right in the state, but to ensure free and compulsory education, there are penalty of clauses in our Act for the parents who don’t send their children to schools”
He informed that making right to education a fundamental right is also a concern of the state government as such “an informal committee” of the experts from Education department in consultation with some of the members of the Task Force - constituted by Government of India – is studying both the Acts.
After examining both Acts, the Committee would send its recommendations to the Law Department on whether to adopt RTE Act or bring it in a modified form in the Assembly, he said adding that the exercise would be completed by December or January.