Questions On Healthcare, Education And Inequality Raised In Parliament

Questions On Healthcare, Education And Inequality Raised In Parliament

Parliament of India comprising Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha is the highest law-making body in the country where elected representatives convene to discuss issues of national importance. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of parliament in raising issues faced by people and providing direction to the executive has become even more crucial.

As part of its advocacy work, Oxfam India constantly engages with Members of Parliament (MP) every session to brief them about critical issues faced by people of India and how parliament can act on it. The parliament, set up under Article 49 of the Indian constitution provides various instruments and procedures to hold government, executive and cabinet accountable to the people. This includes engagement with the parliamentary committees, question hour and debates by members of parliament from any political party in both houses. All members of the public are free to engage with parliament using its website, written communication and offices of respective MPs

After the devastating second wave of COVID-19, parliament convened for the monsoon session from July 19 to August 13, 2021. Oxfam India submitted briefings on crucial matters of healthcare, education, and inequality to MPs. These briefings informed MPs about issues such as need for regulation of private healthcare, gaps in regulations of private schools and growing distance between rich & poor. Oxfam India also submitted around 30 set of questions to parliament around healthcare, education, and inequality to be raised on the floor of both houses. Out of these, 11 questions were raised in parliament by various MPs in the monsoon session.

The MPs also continue to recognise the importance of Oxfam India research on health, education and inequality. During monsoon session, Oxfam India’s Inequality Report 2021: India’s Unequal Healthcare Story was mentioned in the parliament by G. S. Basavaraj, MP from Karnataka, in form of a listed question while asking Union Government’s action plan for resolving healthcare inequalities.

Here's what was asked and the responses that the govt gave

  1. Government’s Plan To Prevent Illegal Fees Hike, Involvement Of Ed-Tech And Philanthropic Institutions In School Education

MP Sujeet Kumar raised the question about rising commercialisation of education through Ed-Tech, philanthropic activities, and lack of regulations on private schools. The Ministry of education responded with list of MOUs signed with 15 private ed-tech firms and provisions in National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 for private school regulations.

  1. Status Of The STARS Project

In a question raised by MP Sujeet Kumar about National Framework Document for the project Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS), Education Ministry informed about the latest developments around world bank sponsored project. Oxfam India along with several education activists had raised concerned about STARS project last year.

  1. School Merger And Its Impact

School merger and rationalisation was started by NITI Aayog in 2017 under Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital in Education, or SATH-E in few states. Thousands of government schools have been permanently shut down under the plan which was recommended by several private consulting firms. MP Narendra Jadhav asked the government about the impact of these permanent school closures. The education ministry reiterated that the mergers and rationalisations are happening through state governments.

  1. Right To Education And Its Compliance

The question on the percentage of schools complying with The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 was put to the education ministry. The ministry quoted Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE), 2019-20 data which showed only 25.50% elementary schools comply with RTE.

  1. Status Of Patients’ Rights Charter

MP Dr Mohammad Jawed asked the Health Ministry about the status of patients’ rights and its implementation in the country. The ministry reiterated that the onus of implementation of Patients’ Rights Charter lays at the state level. Oxfam India has been actively pushing for the implementation of the same in five states.

  1. National PPP Framework For School Education Through STARS

Four MPs came together and asked government about the STARS project and potential development of National PPP framework in school education through the learnings of the project. The education ministry categorically denied the existence of such framework in the project deliverables. Oxfam India along with several other civil society members had raised similar concerns on STARS project last year in July.

  1. Impact Of COVID-19 On Teaching And Learning

MP M. Shanmugam asked the education ministry about impact of COVID-19 on learning and if government has commissioned any survey to understand the same. The ministry informed that the next round of National Achievement Survey (NAS) will be held in November 2021.

Parliament is an important platform in democracy to uphold voice of people. Oxfam India will continue to engage with the institution in various ways to strengthen our democracy and raise issues of public importance on the floor of the house.

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