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MEMORABLE PIECE OF BASIC LEGISLATION

Winding up the debate during the third reading of the Kerala Education Bill in the State Legislature today, (September 2, 1957), Shri.Joseph Mundasserry, Minister for Education, spoke as follows:

Sir,

No new suggestions have been raised on the floor of the House against the passing of this Bill into law.

People generally consider it a good fortune to do good deeds or be participants in good deeds. I regret very much that my friends opposite, even at this last minute, did not take this view. One or two honourable friends were of the view that the Bill should not be passed now and that it should be postponed. I have replied to those suggestions even during the course of the second reading of the Bill. I do not wish to add anything to what I have already expressed. But let me say for their information that here is a Bill which their own leader (Shri. Panampalli Govinda Menon) had sponsored when he was in office.

Quoting from official documents, the Minister said:
On the suggestion of the Chief Minister a Special Officer was appointed by Government to draft a bill for the better organisation of general education and to give it a statutory basis having regard to the recent development in educational theory and practice and keeping in view the directive principle embodied in the Constitution.

The Bill drafted by the Officer so commissioned is in the files.

Sir, the Assembly proceedings have on record the speech made by Shri Panampalli Govinda Menon, introducing a supplementary demand for the implementation of a scheme (the Private secondary School Scheme), which he sought to implement by means of an executive order. The Congress Party, which was in power then, had from that time on wards voiced the opinion that some sort of legislation in respect of education was absolutely necessary. The present Bill has been introduced here, taking into due account the suggestions recorded by them and giving consideration to the various points of view that have since come up in the educational field. I fail to understand how the introduction and the passing of this Bill now can be called a revolutionary or rash venture. Probably, it is the frailty of the normal human mind not to tolerate any one else succeeding when they themselves could not. That must have goaded the section of the Opposition to persist in this attitude even in this last stage. Some are against the immediate enactment of the measure. I doubt whether there has been any other Bill who has been given the benefit of so much deliberation and mature consideration as this measure has been. But there is one thing which I would wish to stress. As far as I can remember, there has been during the last ten years no basic legislation which affects the traditional interest and problems as has been under taken here. This Bill is the first piece of basic legislation which has been enacted in this State.

This Bill has been discussed here for several days. There have been very heated discussions in the Select Committee also. Freedom has been granted for demonstrations both against and for the Bill. Yet, to claim and to argue that the Bill is being audaciously rushed through can only be deemed to be the result of chagrin and frustration. Surely this is a historic event. This Government feels legitimately proud that this is a guide-post for the other States of the Union. Other States might have enacted legislation of a piecemeal nature in this sphere. But I wish to reiterate that this is the first Bill enacted anywhere in India guaranteeing safeguards to thousands of teachers who toil in the educational field.

It has been claimed that this Bill had roused opposition throughout the state. This Bill does not relate to the content or mode of education. The object of the Bill is to regularize, on a statutory basis, the relationship between teachers and manager, managers and Government, and teachers and Government. It is in appropriate to scrutinise the Bill for provisos about pay, allowances etc. The Bill does not give priority to pay and allowances. It gives a glorious opportunity to teachers, who have so far been the slaves of managements, to hold their heads high. For that reason alone this Government believes that this Bill will blazon the path of other States of India.

Those provisions which are acceptable to a majority of managers should be acceptable to other managers as well. It is not proper for a very small section of the managers to oppose the passing of this Bill. This does not mean that after passing this Bill Government will not be prepared to seek a solution to any difficulties felt by the managers in implementing its provisions. Government will be prepared to render any help whenever necessity arises. At the same time, it can be seen that it is a great achievement that cent percent protection has been given to the teachers by this Bill. It is on this basis that it is said that this should be treated as a historic event. Now therefore, I appeal to my friends to realise the importance of this Bill and to support it at least at this late hour.

It will be better if honourable friends realise the importance of this Bill, at least now. If they do not do so, they will only be wasting their breath and energy in arguing in vain for private managements and the middlemen in education. If hon’ble members sitting on the opposition benches are interested I educational progress, they should stop pleading for this kind of middlemen in education. I believe that the members on the opposition benches will have as much enthusiasm as members on this side to strive for the comprehensive cultural progress of our country. Let me hop that if it does not happen today it will come to pass at least in the coming days.

It was stated here that this Bill is injurious to the interests of a particular group. This State has slightly less than seven thousand private schools. Of these only about 1,259 private schools are under the control of those who lead the agitation against the Bill. I refused to yield to the demand of those who want to postpone the passing of this Bill, which seeks to give protection to teachers in about 7,000 schools, and at the same time seek to protect the legitimate rights of the managements of these 7,000 schools, simply to placate the managements of 1,259 schools. Further there are no provisions in the Bill affecting these institutions in particular.

An aspect of the Bill which the Opposition still objects to relates to the clause empowering government to take over private schools in the interests of educational progress. I this context I have only to say that it is Government’s intention to take over only such schools as are run by individuals or agencies in an unsatisfactory manner. It is wrong to interpret this Bill as one meant to annihilate the entire private managements functioning in this State. On the other hand, it is Government’s intention to encourage the managements so long as they do not function in an unsatisfactory manner; this Bill will not discourage, for any reason, any management which functions well. But I wish to tell my friend, Sri. Kunjuraman Nambiar and others, that Government does not consider managements to be an indispensable factor in the educational system in this State. Nor do we take the view that all schools should be taken over by Government. This Bill has been prepared in a realistic manner; we do not wish to jump from Cape Comorin to the Himalayas in one single leap. This Government would be prepared to encourage and support any school, under whatever denominational authority it may be, which renders satisfactory service.

I cannot agree with the argument that this Bill does not provide safeguards for minorities, or on the other hand, that it contains provisions injurious to their interests. I would ask you to scrutinise whether there is any single clause in this Bill which detrimentally affects the minority interests. I can confidently assert that there is no such provision. On the other hand, all safeguards for such interests are provided for in this Bill. If it is argued that the Christians in this State are a minority, I will say that every community here is a minority. The Nair community, the Christian community and the Muslim community will all have to be referred to as minorities in this State. Government does not wish to accept this line of argument, which is redundant as far as matters educational are concerned.
Managements which have, for a long time, functioned with in the educational structure of the State and have generally contributed to the progress of education alone come under the ambit of this Bill. Management Schools which function purely on communal basis are so few as can be counted on the finger tips as, for example, Anglo-Indian schools. Even in respect of these, the present Bill is not objectionable.

Sir, My hon’ble friend, Shri A.A.Rahim, expressed a doubt relating to allowances for teachers. Allowances are a sort of temporary aid granted to those in Government service, from time to time, according to the prevailing circumstances. Such allowances will be paid to teachers in the same way as they are being paid to Government servants. It need not be concluded that because only the term “salary” is mentioned in the Bill, allowances will not be granted. Teachers will continue to get their allowances at the same level as Government servants. I hope this would dispel the doubt raised by my friend.

The Kerala Education Bill is, to my mind, the most important and memorable achievement of basic legislation in our country. I implore all section of this House, including the Opposition Parties to pass this measure into law unitedly and in a spirit of goodwill, thereby making the event a day to remember in our lives.

Education Minister’s Reply to Debate. (The Kerala Education Bill was then passed)