In India, the issue of crime remains a significant concern, and experts are now looking at legal education as a potential solution. The idea is to introduce fundamental legal concepts and education into high school curriculums to promote a transformative shift in education. This proactive measure is expected to reduce crime rates and protect against victimisation.
This approach is supported by the findings of the NCRB Prison Statistics Report, 2019, which indicate that higher education can be a game-changer in reducing crime rates. The report revealed that a significant percentage of inmates (27.37%) were found to be illiterate, while 41.55% had not completed high school. Education can be crucial in reducing the number of inmates and creating legal awareness.
Let's delve into this article to understand whether incorporating legal education in schools helps curb crimes, identify countries that have included it, etc.
Why do we need legal education in schools?
The urgency behind this call for legal education is supported by statistics that highlight the increasing involvement of young individuals in criminal activities, coupled with their vulnerability as potential victims. That is, the data shared in the Crime in India 2020 report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) showed that 9,252 juveniles were in conflict with the law & had education just up to the primary level.
So, the proposal to bring legal education into the school curriculum aims to equip high school students with a comprehensive understanding of legal concepts, their rights, and the repercussions of unlawful behaviour.
Government Actions for Education & Safety in India
India is projected to have the largest youth population in the world by 2030, which could be a significant demographic advantage if these young individuals acquire the necessary skills for workforce integration.
Quality education plays a crucial role in this endeavour. Still, the current state of education in India faces significant challenges, including inadequate infrastructure and insufficient government expenditure, which amounts to less than 3.5% of the country's GDP.
To address these challenges, the government has launched various initiatives aimed at educational reform, such as the:
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Failure of the RTE Act to address youth crimes
The RTE Act, which aims to provide free and compulsory education to children aged 6 to 14 in India, has helped to overcome issues of access and enrollment.
However, the act's primary focus on the right to education may not directly address the broader societal factors contributing to youth crime.
Youth crime is often a result of complex socio-economic challenges such as poverty and unemployment, which the RTE Act does not explicitly tackle.
To effectively combat youth crime, a comprehensive approach is needed that includes strategies beyond education to address the root causes of poverty, unemployment, and social disparities.
Importance of Legal Education in School from Advocate's point of view
Let's try to understand the importance of bringing legal education under the school's domain from an advocate's point of view.
From an advocate's point of view, teaching children about laws, probably from the 6th grade, can make a big difference in our society. The idea is that when people understand the law and what's right or wrong, it can help reduce crimes.
1. Law is Like School Subjects:
2. Why Legal Education Matters:
In India, although we have many rules, many people still break them.
Teaching kids about the law can make them responsible citizens who follow the rules, which might lower crime.
3. Juveniles and Crimes:
Sometimes, young people commit serious crimes, and some experts say our current laws aren't enough.
Advocates also suggest that teaching kids about the law might help them understand right and wrong, reducing the number of crimes by young people.
4. Social Change through Education:
5. Preventing Exploitation:
6. Focusing on Villages and Children:
Since many people in India live in villages, understanding how laws relate to society is crucial.
Making legal education a regular part of school can produce students who grow up to be knowledgeable about the law.
7. Changing Attitudes:
Legal education can shape how kids think about social issues and make them more aware of their rights and duties.
Ultimately, it's about creating ideal citizens who contribute positively to society.
Countries with Legal Education in Their School Curriculum
Several countries worldwide have included legal education (directly or indirectly) in schools, recognizing its impact on shaping informed and responsible citizens. Notable examples include:
Legal education in Japan is not a standalone subject but is integrated into broader issues such as Social Studies and Moral Value Studies.
There needs to be a systematic learning process designed explicitly for legal education in Japan.
Research trends focus on law-related, civil, law-based, and sovereign education.
Efforts have been made to incorporate legal thinking and judgment skills through initiatives like mock trials.
In China, there is a more structured approach to legal education, as stipulated by the government in documents like the Decision of the Communist Central on Some Serious Issues in the Full Promotion of the Rule of Law.
China has specific law education sub-textbooks for each school level and a subject named "Morality and Rule of Law."
The Youth Law and Education Outline, issued in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Justice, and National Law Promotion Office, emphasizes legal education.
3. United States:
In many US states, civic education, including legal concepts, is integrated into school curricula.
Impact: Aim to enhance students' understanding of their citizenship rights and responsibilities.
In conclusion, the incorporation of legal education into high school curriculums in India can be a proactive strategy to address the rising crime rates, particularly among the youth. Supported by evidence linking higher education levels to reduced criminal involvement, this initiative aims to equip students with a comprehensive understanding of legal concepts, fostering a sense of responsibility and ethical conduct. As the government addresses challenges in the education system, the question arises:
Can legal education empower students to contribute to a safer and more just society?
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