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Government hopeful of passing important education bills

New Delhi, April 22 - With the budget session of parliament set to resume Tuesday, Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal and education officials are keeping their fingers crossed for a slew of critical but pending education bills that, among others, seeks to establish a body to oversee and standardise higher education in the country and include children with disabilities under the Right to Education.

"There are a number of bills which need to be passed urgently; we hope some will be through in the second half of the budget session. But if parliament is stalled, the bills will be left in the doldrums - as has been the trend," a senior HRD ministry official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

Sibal has in the past week been stressing the need for passing the bills. Blaming the opposition for delays in educational reforms, he has on more than one occasion emphasised that education should not be marred by politics.

"It took me one year to make the bills, but they have been pending in parliament for two years, even though they have been approved by the standing committee, which has representatives from all parties," Sibal said at a recent event.

Here are some of the pending education bills:

1. Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill: It aims to regulate the entry and operation of foreign educational institutions seeking to impart higher education. Every foreign educational institution intending to operate in India has to be notified as a foreign educational provider by the central government on the recommendation of the registrar (secretary of the University Grants Commission). The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in May 2010, and then referred to a parliamentary standing committee. The committee gave its report in May 2011.

2. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill: This amendment bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in April 2010, and then referred to a standing committee. It will amend the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 or RTE to expand the definition of "children belonging to disadvantaged group" to include children with disabilities.

3. The Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical Educational Institutions, Medical Educational Institutions and Universities Bill: Seeking to protect the interests of students, this bill aims to check malpractices in technical and medical educational institutions. It specifies guidelines under which unfair practices such as charging capitation fees, demanding donations and questionable admission processes could be treated as civil or criminal offences.

4. National Commission of Higher Education and Research (NCHER) Bill: It seeks to establish an overarching body which will replace existing structures like the UGC and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

5. Educational Tribunal Bill: It seeks to set up national and state level tribunals. Disputes related to higher educational institutions and students or the faculty and institutions and statutory authorities shall be adjudicated by these tribunals. It was passed by the Lok Sabha in August 2010.

6. The National Academic Depository Bill, 2011: The bill seeks to establish a national database of academic awards in electronic format, which can be verified and authenticated. The central government shall appoint a depository as the National Academic Depository to establish and maintain the national database.


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