The Constitution of India has made a number of provisions which have direct or indirect bearing on education. The Preamble to the Constitution states the resolve of the nation “to constitute India into a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic and to secure to all its citizens justice, social, economic and political; liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; equality of status and opportunity; and to promote among them all fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.”
These broad principles enshrined in the Constitution provide a direction to all educational endeavours at the macro level. There are several articles in the Constitution which directly refer to the organization and development of education. Some of the?” are as follows:
Article 29(1) state: that “No citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of the State funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.”
Besides, in order conserve and nurture different languages spoken by the people of India, Article 29(1) states that “Any section of the citizens, residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.”
Article 350-A, in order to strengthen this provision,-further adds that “it shall be endeavour of every State and of every local authority within the state to provide adequate facilities for instruction in the mother tongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups.”
The constitution also sought to make special provisions for protecting the rights of the minorities with respect to education. This was done through Article 30(1) which points out that “all minorities whether based on religion or language shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice”.
Besides, Article 30(2) enjoins that “the State shall not, in granting aid to educational institutions, discriminate against any educational institution on the ground that it is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language.”
Moreover, to reduce social inequalities and protect the economic and educational interests of the disadvantaged sections of the society. Article 46 lays down that “The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and in Particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.”
In order to uphold the principle of secularism mentioned in the Preamble to the constitution, the State does not officially support any particular religion. This is also supported by the Constitution by making some special provisions regarding the status of religious instruction in institutions which are wholly or partially supported by State funds.
To this effect, Article 28(1) states that “No religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds” and Article 28(2) asserts that “Nothing in clause (1) shall apply to an educational institution which is administered by the State but has been established under any endowment or trust which requires that religious instruction shall be imparted in such institutions.”
At the same time, Article 28(3) provides that “No person attending any educational institution recognized by the State or receiving aid out of State funds shall be required to take part in any religious instruction that may be imparted in such institutions or to attend any religious worship that may be conducted in such institutions or in any premises attached thereto unless such person, or, if such person is a minor, his guardian has given his consent thereto.”
Education, especially, literacy has been regarded as an instrument of economic development all over the world. Thus, the Constitution makes it obligatory for the state to provide minimum levels of education for all its citizens.
Accordingly, in the Directive Principles of State Policy, Article 45 envisages that “The State shall endeavour to provide within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.”
The Indian Constitution defines the word “State” in its Article 12 to comprise of “the Government and Parliament of India and the Government and the Legislature of each of the States and local or other authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India.”
Till 1976, education was entirely a State responsibility. But the 42nd amendment to the Constitution in 1976 made education a concurrent subject thereby authorizing the Parliament to prepare and pass legislation concerning education.
The Central Government has, therefore, the moral responsibility of providing compulsory and free education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.