It is easier to make a new law than the enforcement and modification of an existing one. The proposed legislation on education is the latest glaring example of this popular saying in our country.
A provision of the proposed education law slaps a ban on publishing notes or guidebooks for primary and secondary levels education. In so doing, those who drafted the proposal have overlooked a three-decade old law that serves the same purpose with a provision for more stringent punishment.
Whoever will publish notes or guidebooks, according to the proposed law drafted by the education ministry, will be punished with a jail term of up to six months or a fine of up to Tk 2 lakh or both.
But the Note-Books (Prohibition) Act of 1980 has long ago criminalised printing, publication, import, distribution and sale of note-books on text-books for primary and secondary schools up to class VII.
The charge of violating the law carries jail term of up to seven years and a fine of up to Tk 25,000 or both. In addition, the court may order the forfeiture to the government of every copy of the notes or guidebooks and the printing press found printing such notes-books, according to the law of 1980.
In exercise of the power of the law of 1980, mobile courts in past had launched anti-guidebooks drive in Dhaka and various districts and seized huge number of notes and guidebooks and imposed fines on the sellers of those banned books.
Yet, the market remains flooded with notes and guidebooks with different names for different classes.
In such a situation, the proposed education law has slapped the ban on notes-guidebooks with a provision for lesser punishment.
The proposed law also sought to make the pre-primary and primary education compulsory for all children. Again, those who drafted the provision have ignored a law enacted in 1990 making the primary education compulsory.
The government has enacted the law detailing the procedure for introduction of compulsory primary education for children.
However, the law has a provision asking the government to specify, in official gazette, the areas where the primary education will be made compulsory.
It has also made it mandatory for every guardian of the areas specified in the official gazette to send their children to schools and on failure a guardian may face punitive action, according to the law making primary education compulsory.
Since their enactment, no amendment was brought to these two laws on note-books prohibition and making primary education compulsory. This also shows a lack of proper enforcement of them, which remain only in the book.
Under such a situation, those who are supposed to do extensive homework before drafting any proposal for enactment of the education law seem to have failed to do so in the last four years since they began the work in 2012.
If such a faulty proposal is placed in the parliament, what will our lawmakers do? Will they find out the loopholes in the proposed legislation during the debate on it, or will they just pass it in voice vote as they usually do?