Genesis: The Collective Strength

The creation of National Coalition for Education (NCE) in India was highly influenced by the global political atmosphere on right to education. Beginning in 1990 with the Jomtien Conference and the adoption of the World Declaration on Education for All there has been a continued push to get every child into school. However, there was very little progress being made and ten years later, in 2000, the World Education Forum was held in Dakar, Senegal, and an agreement was made on the objective of having EFA by 2015. Six targets were set up stating that quality education should be available for free for everyone. One of the biggest players present at the forum was the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) that was created from the efforts of INGO’s Action Aid, Oxfam GB, and Education International that wanted to set up a global coordinated funding initiative. The GCE promised to mobilize and create public pressure on governments to follow up on their promises to provide free high quality education for all people, especially for children and women (GCE 2009).

The NCE was formed as a product of the prolonged struggle of like-minded organizations, groups and individuals on the issues of education in India. The idea of establishing a national coalition in India initially began in 1996 when several of the current members began working together of the issue of EFA.

Some Major Milestones

  • The Parliamentary Forum for Ensuring Right to Education (PFRTE) has been instrumental in taking the voices of people, speaking out about the deteriorating education system in India, to the parliament and getting them actually heard.
  • Large-scale lobbying and advocacy efforts through mass mobilisation, signature campaigns, and public hearings by the NCE paved the way for the 86th Constitutional Amendment, making education free and compulsory for children between 6 and 14 years.
  • Incessant pressure building and networking with like-minded organizations all over India triggered responses from political circles and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government levied 2% education cess (a surcharge levied by the government for education) and passed the allocation of 6% of the gross domestic product (GDP) for education.
  • NCE contributed in getting the government to agree in principle to increase the public expenditure on education to 6% of the GDP.
  • NCE has played a significant role in the formation of Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) forums in many states of India. The MLA forums have since been playing a commendable role in raising issues related to education.
  • At the grassroots level, NCE is playing an instrumental role in the formation and strengthening of School Managing Committees in villages. Such committees, which comprise people’s representatives, teachers and local government, take into account the implementation and monitoring of the RTE Act.
  • Advocating and pressurizing the government to fulfill its promises on the RTE Act through a Global Action Week (GAW) with partners and a network every year. This week takes place in 10 states of India every year with participation of millions of students, teachers, civil society groups, international organizations and grass-roots movements.

National Coalition for Education is working with the following objectives

NCE strives to restore the fundamental rights of every child, without exception, to receive free and quality education up to the age of 18, on the basis of equal opportunity and without discrimination on the basis of gender, class, caste, ethnicity or religion.

NCE calls for attention to the need to build a national movement towards an educated India. Some specific objectives for this are the following:

  • The implementation of the RTE Act in states which are at a slow pace and advocating for speedy notification.
    Six percent of GDP and 20 percent of government expenditure should be prioritized for education, and half of this public spending on education needs to be targeted towards elementary education.
  • To ensure quality of education, regular and trained teachers should be recruited in place of untrained and para-teachers. Para- teachers recruited so far should be trained and regularized.
  • The existing laws should be amended suitably and implemented strictly for total eradication of the menace of child labour and child trafficking, and all children of the age group 0-18 years are enrolled in schools.
  • Make constitutional provisions that stipulate that education is a right, in line with the UN Convention.
  • Changes should be carried out in the proposed legislation for quality education system with measurable indicators so that parents and the community can monitor the quality of education.
  • There should be common schooling system for all children, irrespective of their parents’ socio-economic status.
    NCE advocates quality of all government schools at par with Kendriya Vidyalayas (Central School).