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CBSE schools to teach law to kids. Early dis/advantage?

Gearing up for law early
Gearing up for law early
Eleventh-standard students in 200 Indian schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) may have “legal studies” as an elective subject option academic year 2013-14 onwards, according to the Times of India.

The elective will be open to students opting for any of the three streams of compulsory subjects - science, commerce, and humanities - after the tenth standard grade, reported the paper.

The CBSE wrote to 200 affiliated schools on 5 April 2013 asking for their expression of interest in offering the new course to their students. The schools have to reply by 20 April, and depending on this initial response the board may introduce the elective in other affiliated schools, CBSE chairman Vineet Joshi told the paper.

The curriculum will include political theory, nature and sources of law, Indian legal history, civil and criminal procedure, family law, alternate dispute resolution, human rights in India, international law, and the “legal profession in India”, according to Times’ report.

Nalsar vice chancellor Prof Faizan Mustafa, who has been supporting the proposals, commented: “The idea is to have a basic introductory course in law so that those who are [for instance studying] humanities in 12th [standard] eventually develop an interest in law.”

“If you add all the engineering colleges in the country, 20 lakh people are taking the entrance exam whereas for the CLAT [Common Law Admission Test] there are only 30,000. That clearly means that law is not a preferred option despite its job prospects […] because it is not taught at the school level,” he added.

29,500 aspirants registered for taking the CLAT this year, which is a 15 per cent hike over last year’s total number.

“To my mind on a preliminary level it seems a pretty okay move but it does disadvantage students who are not going to a CBSE school,” commented Diptasri Basu, executive director at Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access to Legal Education (IDIA) – a non-profit initiative training underprivileged CLAT aspirants.

“Basic history and polity is good enough for anyone who needs a taste of law, you don’t need to know core law before attempting CLAT. My primary concern is that schools are becoming super-specialised at too early a stage,” she said.

“While [teaching legal studies in schools] can be tested as an introductory scheme, apart from encouraging a few students to do law I don’t think it will have too much of an impact in the number of people taking [law] up. A lot depends on the syllabus framed and the expertise of the teachers engaged in taking up the subject. Teaching school students CPC or CRPC, as is mentioned in the proposed syllabus, does not make sense at all,” added Basu.

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