Equality of Educational Opportunities: The Indian Context

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What is Equality?

The term ‘equality’ means the absence of special privileges to any section of the society, and the provision of adequate opportunities for all individuals without any discrimination.

The Preamble to the Indian Constitution secures to all citizens of India equality of status and opportunity. This is tried to achieve through various provisions in the Constitution as well as through various laws and policies enacted from time to time.

Articles 14 to 18 provides for right to equality which aims to secure all citizens their civic equality.

Articles 325 and 326 aims to secure all citizens political equality.

And, Article 39 under the Directive Principles aims to secure all citizens economic equality.

Difference Between Equity and Equality

  1. Equity is the virtue of being just, even-handed and impartial. Whereas, equality is described as a state, where everyone is at the same level.
  2. Equity involves fair distribution. Whereas, equality involves even distribution.
  3. Equity recognises differences, and attempts to counteract unequal individual opportunities. Whereas, equality recognises sameness and treats everyone as equal.
  4. Equity ensures that people have what they need. Whereas, equality is about providing everyone, the same things.

Equality of Educational Opportunities

Equality of opportunity means to give equal chance to every individual for the development of his capacity. It is an accepted working policy of all the democratic nations to make provision for equal opportunities. As Dr. Radhakrishnan had pointed out long time back:

“Democracy only provides that all men should have equal opportunities for the development of their unequal talents.”

India is a democratic and secular country. The success of democracy depends upon education of its citizens. It is important that educational opportunities are provided to all citizens to develop their personalities into the fullest extent.

The Constitution of India provides for educational opportunities to all citizens of the country. It also provides that the State shall not discriminate between persons on grounds of their religion, caste, race, sex or place of birth. The Preamble of the Constitution also assures equality to all the citizens. It means that our Constitution is committed to the principle of equality.

Constitutional Provisions for Ensuring Equality in Education: The Indian Context

There are various provisions in the Indian Constitution that aims to ensure equality in education. Some of the most important provisions are discussed below:

Free and Compulsory Education: Education is a Fundamental Right under Article 21 (A) of the Constitution of India. The Constitution of India under Directive Principles as well as Fundamental Duties also provides for universal, free and compulsory education for all children.

Education of Minorities: Article 30 of the Indian Constitution related to rights of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.

Safeguard for Linguistic Minorities: Article 29 (1) provides for the safeguard of linguistic minorities.

Education for Weaker Sections: Various Articles of the Indian Constitution safeguard the educational interests of the weaker sections of the Indian society particularly those who are socially and educationally backward such as scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

Secular Education: Under the Constitution, minorities, whether based on religion or language, are given full rights to establish educational institutions of their choice.

Equality of Opportunity in Educational Institutions: Article 29 (1) provides for equal access to educational institutions maintained by the State without discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.

Women’s Education: The education for women is of special focus in India. The Constitution says that state shall not discriminate any citizen on grounds of sex. The Government can also make special provisions for women and children. The well-known National Policy on Education was concerned about the status and education of women in the country.

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