April 19, 2006Public Policy

Free, as long as someone else pays for it

The sorry tale of free secondary education for the single girl child

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Badri Sheshadri tells the story of how yet another item from the UPA government’s entitlement agenda fell flat for the want of, you guessed it, careful consideration.

A few months ago the Central Board of Secondary Education announced free secondary education for the single girl child. Although the policy may have had laudable goals, the amount of thought that should have gone into it, but didn’t, is remarkable.

All parents had to do to avail this benefit was to produce an affidavit saying as much. The government had to do even less. Nothing, as it turns out, apart from issuing the order. It was left to the school managements to verify the parents’ claims and take action in the event of their being false. There’s more — the central government left it to the school managements to find the funds to pay for the government’s largesse.

Ironically, it required one system of entitlements to challenge another. Carmel Convent successfully challenged CBSEs decision at the Delhi High Court on the grounds that its decision impinged on the autonomy granted to educational institutions of minority communities. Badri writes that CBSE has now revoked its order.

At this stage it is useful to remember that all this happened despite the prime minister being a well-regarded economist.

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