Kapil Sibal: Well, Sagarika, the fact is that there is no single player that can do that. Education is a collaborative enterprise. When a child goes to school, who are the stakeholders involved - your parents, neighbours, teachers, friends, the managing committee, the state government, the panchayat, the central government and the child herself or himself. So these are the various stakeholders. Now in this collaborative exercise if you expect to central government to deliver, right. It will not happen.
Sagarika Ghose: But have you thought it through---.OK. I'm reading out some figures to you; the university of Education planning and administration, the NUPA has estimated the cost of implementing the project of Rs 34,000 crore per year. You are going to require Rs 1.7 lakh crore for the next five years---
Kapil Sibal: We have the money. That's not an issue.
Sagarika Ghose: Where you're going to find the money?
Kapil Sibal: We have the money. This year, for example we have the funding and the next year with 8.5 per cent, we are going to have more funding. So, that's funding been never being an issue. The states have resources today, which they never had 10 years ago.
Sagarika Ghose: But the Orissa School Education Minister has stated that unless the Centre makes adequate financial provision, the state is not in a position to implement this bill?
Kapil Sibal: Look at their balance sheet, just find out what there balance sheet is? Finance Minister has already gone on record saying that states are getting lot of money, they are flooded with funds, and therefore they have to take responsibility. Say ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’; we have now 75-25 sharing. We will be 50- 50 next years. This is the commitment of the state and ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ and we are moving right to education along with that.
Sagarika Ghose: What about teachers?
Kapil Sibal: That's a big challenge.
Sagarika Ghose: Save the Children has estimated that you will need 12 lakh teachers in next six months?
Kapil Sibal: We need 12 lakh teachers. We are short of 5 lakh teachers. We have seven lakh teachers. We need to recruit teachers. The state governments are doing it. We have recruited a lot of teachers but that's a big challenge. This is not going to happen tomorrow on the first of April. But I've said that we have created the ecosystem for it to happen.
Sagarika Ghose: The legal hurdles as well?
Kapil Sibal: What's the legal hurdle?
Sagarika Ghose: The private non-aided schools have gone to the Supreme Court challenging the 25 per cent reservation that you have provided?
Kapil Sibal: That's not a legal hurdle? You can challenge anything. A challenge is not a legal hurdle.
Sagarika Ghose: Then how will you overcome that? What if they get a stay on that?
Kapil Sibal: What if they get? They have not got a stay. This is a challenge everybody has a right to challenge and better will place the facts before the court. We know what court will say. But as of now they have to be implemented. What is the problem over 25 per cent? They have to admit 25 per cent in class 1 and when class 1 student moves to class 2, and then they don't have to do it in 2010. They have to do it in 2011. When he/she moves to class 2, there will be another induction into the class 1. In twelve years time it will be 25 per cent.
Sagarika Ghose: Right. But let me bring it to you another criticism; that is severe criticism of this act. As you know that number of experts have actually fled this bill as a 'black day' in the history of Indian education; a 'fraud' on our children.
Let me read it out to you what eminent educationist says, "It gives neither free education nor compulsory education only legitimizes the present multi-layer inferior quality school education system; where there is discrimination between children’s whose parents are rich and children’s whose parents are poor". How will you bridge the education gap between the rich and the poor?
Kapil Sibal: I don't know. These are people, who want to nationalise the education system; the leader that you're talking about.
Sagarika Ghose: They want common school system?
Kapil Sibal: They want common school system, they want to nationalise education system. Obviously we can't nationalise education. As you know that we have neither the will nor the funding. Where does nationalise school system work? You tell me.
Sagarika Ghose: But the neighbourhood school system has about it. It's the neighbourhood school, which works?
Kapil Sibal: We are working on that. It is under this bill. 93 per cent of all education in any case is provided by the government, it any case, more or less nationalised. It's only seven per cent, which is provided by the private school sectors. What we have to do is to provide quality education to our children. If there are some people who can put up schools, invest money, give computers to everybody; we can't stop them. We shouldn't stop them.
Sagarika Ghose: When you don't have the teachers, you yourself have said that state government has to implement it. Everyone has to get involved on it, then how are you going to guarantee the quality of education
Kapil Sibal: Again you are saying. Please allow me. There are 50 lakh teachers in this country. So don't say we don't have teachers. Yes, we are short of five lakh teachers. Who recruits the teachers? Obviously, not the central government does that. It is the responsibility of the state, this is a state subject. The states have to recruit teachers. If they don't recruit teachers, don't blame the act; don't blame the minister, right. What have been they doing for so many years? In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar…
Sagarika Ghose: But where are you going to find cadres of cadres of trained teachers? Where you going to have trainers for teachers?
Kapil Sibal: If you recruit them we will find them.
Sagarika Ghose: But you also have a severe dilution of norms which is present in this particular act. It says that if a state does not have sufficient numbers of trained teachers and it can relax the requirements which is required for a teacher?
Kapil Sibal: Incidentally. No, no one second.
Sagarika Ghose: It can relax the qualification requirement needed for a teacher?
Kapil Sibal: For the first time…
Sagarika Ghose: Are you saying that a eighth standard pass are going to become a teacher?
Kapil Sibal: Please listen. For the first time through a parliamentary legislation we have set standards of qualification of teachers. Below a certain qualification they can't teach. This has not happened anywhere. Why have there been poor quality teachers? Because state governments have been recruiting teachers without the requisite qualifications? For the first time a parliamentary legislation is attempting to deal with that solution.
Sagarika Ghose: Do you provide for relaxation?
Kapil Sibal: Please, please. If you don't allow me to say, we can't continue with this interview. I'm responding to your questions. A teacher can't get a qualification overnight? If he is teaching today, he can't get a qualification overnight. So under the act we are giving them five years time. You get the qualification in five years time, if you don't get the qualification, you won't be allowed to teach. So we are rectifying the problem. We also know that this is not going to happen overnight. Like infrastructure; schools don't have infrastructure. Under the act we said we must get the requisite infrastructure in three years time. In fact it is providing for quality that is in response to you question. Where’re it has gone wrong, is that the state governments have been recruiting people, who didn't have the requisite qualifications. We are saying we will not allow this to happen. That's why we put this provision. The act caters to the quality, the act also caters to the access; these are the twin objectives of this legislations.
Sagarika Ghose: Kapil Sabil, why 6-14 years, that is the other big criticism made against the bill, you are not providing education for children aged 0-6 and 14 onwards. So what will happen when a child reaches class nine and then he is told that your free elementary education is over, so please leave?
Kapil Sibal: Originally the directive state policy under Article-45 talked about 6-14 years, free elementary education. Then it was incorporated in the fundamental rights under Article 21 -A under (6-14) years. Remember when you talk about state investing in education you have to talk about finance. Over the years as we could not have the kind of growth that we were hoping for. The last, after the UPA 1 came to power, those growth numbers have come, which has provided us the requisite finances to be able to invest in this sector. Because those finances are now available we are now able to atleast invest in elementary education from 6-14 years.
Sagarika Ghose: So you don't have the money to provide for beyond 14 and below 6?
Kapil Sibal: I didn't say that. For example- The ‘Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan’, which needs much more money today? So we are going to invest in ‘Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan’ as well. So secondary education will also move forward quickly, that's because we had 9 per cent growth. If we get 8.5 per cent growth next year then 9 per cent there after for several years then there going to be no shortage for money. We will in fact think for 0- 6 years as well. We have ‘angadwadis’, we have many such schemes. But we need much more money to actually reach out to the children of al age groups. The government would want to do that, but you know we are strapped of resources. When the nationalist talks about the nationalizing education, what have prevented them for doing so for so many years? How is the system delivered?
Sagarika Ghose: Is it about nationalizing education or is it about breaking the apartheid, because there is an apartheid. The rich goes to good school and the poor goes to bad schools. The challenge for any government is to bridge that education gap.
Kapil Sibal: This is factually wrong. How many private schools in this country which gives quality education?
Sagarika Ghose: No, no that's another matter. But if you are a rich person in India, you have a better chance of education than a poor person.
Kapil Sibal: Then you nationalise everything. You curb all rich schools. Is that what you are advocating as a channel?
Sagarika Ghose: No, no I'm not advocating as a channel? I 'm saying this is the view of many experts, who have said to create a common school.
Kapil Sibal: This is the view of the Left and the Marxists.
Sagarika Ghose: It may be the view of the Left parties but there are many eminent educationists as well as.
Kapil Sibal: Tell me.
Sagarika Ghose: Experts, who have said, "we need a common school system, where the income of the parents shouldn't determine whether you can get a good education or not? That is surely one of the major injustices of our country
Kapil Sibal: Incidentally this act has been drafted by people of that ilk, people like Vinod Raina, who are the part of the system. You know who have been participating in the enactment of this legislation. What you are talking about is the views of the Left parties, who have said that we should not have any rich schools.
Sagarika Ghose: They may be raising some valid social-democratic concerns
Kapil Sibal: I'm not saying yes or no. I am just telling you. If we have all the resources in the world, if we were a trillion economy, we will give free education to everybody. It's not an issue at all. We can give most high quality education to everybody and the salaries could be Rs 50, 000 and Rs 1 lakh for teachers in schools as they have in western countries. But unfortunately we are a country which got independent late and it’s been only 62 years. So we don't have the luxury of giving salaries of 2 lakh and 3 lakh to teachers. We have to work within a system.
Sagarika Ghose: This could have been an opportunity which you could have missed?
Kapil Sibal: How?
Sagarika Ghose: By making possible by setting up all these schools, neighbourhood schools, common schools.
Kapil Sibal: This is what we are doing?
Sagarika Ghose: Rather what they are saying against you is that you have brought tout an elitists and middle class bill because you left the elite private institutes untouched.
Kapil Sibal: So abolish the elite private institutes.
Sagarika Ghose: Not abolish the elite private institutes
Kapil Sibal: The what? Give me the answer.
Sagarika Ghose: Divert much more resources on what you are doing at the moment.
Kapil Sibal: Divert? Al the resources are diverted to the neighbourhood schools.
Sagarika Ghose: Then why don't the elite go to there?
Kapil Sibal: Al the resources are diverted to the neighbourhood schools. There is nothing that we give to private schools. Private school run on their own money, how can you prevent that a fundamental right.
Sagarika Ghose: You can't prevent that, You can't prevent private schools from existing but you can significantly bolster the standards that are available to the majority.
Kapil Sibal: That's exactly what we are doing, I don't know what you are talking about.
Sagarika Ghose: But if you are not going to give comparative salaries to teachers, you yourself said that you don't have the resources. If you are not going to give adequate infrastructure as you said you are dependent on states, you don't have any role don’t. How can you insure the same quality education that a rich child gets in a private school is available to a poor child
Kapil Sibal: There is no such thing called same quality. Between one school and other the quality will differ, it will depend on the teacher and it will depend on 50 other things. If your argument is that we should abolish private schools system then your argument is valid but then that ideology has to be different. But if your argument is why you’re are giving something to private schools and not giving to government schools. That is completely wrong. Because all the money is going to the public sector, its going to the school system.
Sagarika Ghose: There is lots of criticisms, that right to go to school not a right to education because you have already abolished al exams. You have abolished assessment. How are you are going to access learning ability of a child, if you are not going to test.
Kapil Sibal: First of all this is for class 1 to class 8.
Sagarika Ghose: Still you need to know the basic mathematics?
Kapil Sibal: Who says you will not know basic mathematics?
Sagarika Ghose: How will you know if don' t test them?
Kapil Sibal: Who says that we won't test them?
Sagarika Ghose: Because you have said there will be no test?
Kapil Sibal: I said about board exams.
Sagarika Ghose: OK. There are seventy million school going children in India not attending schools. There are 13 million engaged in sum form of work and 2 million works engaged in domestic work. The reality of child labour, how are you going to bring in children from child labour into school?
Kapil Sibal: I said it to be very serious issue. Central government can't do it alone. For example if there is migrant labour or child labours working in a particular area, where the state government has to decide where the school has to be located. Even for those migrant children’s. This is a societal enterprise. What we are going to bring in the system is the responsibility and ownership quality in the system and assess to the most disadvantaged community. We don't have magic wand to say that central government has passed an act and everything will be fine.
Sagarika Ghose: It's a broad annunciation of a vision.
Sagarika Ghose: You are not taking ownership of any implementation and work on the ground level?
Kapil Sibal: Of course we are. We take responsibility as an important stakeholder, we take ownership. But I’m not the only stakeholder in the system.
Sagarika Ghose: Thank you so much Mr Sibal
Kapil Sibal: Thanks.