Education in India not inclusive; we are lacking in terms of education: SC judge

As per the standards of sustainable development India is still lacking in terms of education as it has not achieved the goal of “inclusive education”, Supreme Court judge Justice UU Lalit said here on Monday and underlined the need to undertake more efforts on this front and to provide good and quality education to every child.

Justice Lalit was in Bhuj in Gujarat to participate in a mega legal services camp and awareness programme organised as part of a pan-India outreach campaign of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) that started on October 2 and will conclude on November 14.

Justice Lalit, who is Executive Chairman of NALSA, said that national public sector institutions such as AIIMS, IITs, NITs, National Law Schools, etc. have achieved excellence in their respective fields, but the same is not the case with government primary and secondary schools in the country.

“Are government schools the first choice for any citizen to send his child, or is it the school in the private sector which is supposed to be the first choice?” asked Justice Lalit while addressing the gathering.

“Our education is not inclusive. Our education is not such that those provided (with it) in some villages and big cities have no difference in their qualities. We must consider all this. And unless we achieve this, according to sustainable development standards, we are still lacking in terms of education,” he said.

Mentioning the Right to Education (RTE) Act, Justice Lalit said nearly 11 years since its introduction, the participation of girl students in elementary and secondary schools has increased.

He said education alone is not enough, and one needs to consider the aspect of “inclusiveness in education. And I believe that there is more need to take some effort in this direction, he added.

“If education is the most fundamental and cherished right of every child in this country, then it is our bounden duty to make available what is called good, quality education,” he said, adding that unless this is achieved one cannot consider poverty being eradicated in terms of world standards.

Talking about “poverty alleviation,” Justice Lalit said it should be looked at from the yardstick of sustainable development goals and not just in terms of the figures of “Below Poverty Line”.

Justice Lalit said that only one out of 100 people in the courts is availing the benefit of the aid provided by the legal services authorities.

“Our effort through this pan-India awareness programme is an attempt to germinate the seed about the same right, to explain the rights,” he said.

Justice Lalit said NALSA also aims at empowering women and elevating those with some form of mental disability.

Induction of women to the National Defence Academy and them becoming fighter corps is a “big achievement,” empowerment that NALSA aspires to provide, he said.

“NALSA believes that mental weakness or disability is not a permanent feature. It is a temporary phenomenon, and we have to overcome the temporary phenomenon with effort. And the efforts should not only be from the family, but it also depends on our society, systems, and how to raise the child,” he added.

In his speech, Justice MR Shah of the Supreme Court said the people need to know about their rights in terms of availing the legal services.

“You must know that free and quality legal services are our effort. Our effort is that nobody remains deprived of justice due to the lack of money and consultancy,” he said.

Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court Aravind Kumar said the lack of awareness among people about free and competent legal aid and assistance is the reason due to which the access to justice remains a “distant dream” for a large number of poor, weaker and downtrodden population.

“Until and unless legal awareness is carried out as a massive campaign, you may not succeed in achieving the motto of NALSA–Nyay Sabke Liye- that is access to justice to all,” he said.

Justice RM Chhaya of Gujarat High Court, who is also the Executive Chairman of GSLSA, said that since the campaign started on October 2, 18,444 villages in Gujarat have been covered in the first of its three phases, and the second phase is also nearing completion.

“Around 3 crore people were contacted in door-to-door campaigns, and 11 lakh people have benefited from legal education camps. Another 94 lakh people have been contacted through mobile vans,” Justice Chhaya added.

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