- A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court has dismissed a petition which sought for “one nation, one education board” to end disparity in knowledge dissemination during the formative years of a child.
Need for a single education board
- The fundamental right to free and compulsory education under Article 21A includes a common education system where the “rich and the poor are educated under one roof.”
- However, the current education system under multiple boards did not provide equal opportunity to all.
The 2011 judgment
- Supreme Court’s dismissal of this petition is in contrast to a 2011 judgment by the Panchal Bench in the Tamil Nadu and Others versus K. Shyam Sunder and Others.
- In 2011, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, in an appeal filed by the Tamil Nadu government, had held that a common syllabus, especially for children aged between six and 14, would achieve the “code of common culture.”
- The 2011 judgment had held that the “right of a child should not be restricted only to free and compulsory education, but should be extended to have quality education without any discrimination on the ground of their economic, social and cultural background.”
- The court had also observed that Separate education facilities are inherently unequal and violate the doctrine of equality.
Tamil Nadu’s case
- In August 2011, Tamil Nadu became the first Indian state to have a common syllabus, textbooks and examinations.
- Prior to that, schools in the state were following four boards—the state board, Matriculation board, Oriental board, and the Anglo-Indian board.
- While the proposal was mooted a few years ago, the government managed to merge the four boards after a long legal battle.
- ‘Samacheer Kalvi’ as the common curriculum board is called is framed on the lines of National Curriculum Framework.
- This, however, does not include national boards like the CBSE and ICSE. While this was the first initiative of its kind, its success is yet to be measured in qualitative terms.
The Court had held that a “uniform education system would achieve the code of common culture, removal of disparity, depletion of discriminatory values in human relations”.