The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Wednesday wanted to know from the Maharashtra government how street children will get their right to education. A division bench comprising justices Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Pramod Kode asked the National Commission of Child Rights and the state government to frame a policy in this regard and file a report within four weeks.
The counsel for the petitioner Firdos Mirza pointed out to the court that despite Right to Education (RTE) Act coming into effect for children between 6 and 14 years of age, the state government has miserably failed to provide elementary education to thousands of such children who wander on the streets. He stressed that after the implementation of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in the country, no child is to be deprived of education. The state in its earlier affidavit, had admitted that there are over 31,000 children who are not admitted in any school till date.
During last hearing, the court issued notices to respondents – union secretaries of departments of child development and school education, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, chief secretary of Maharashtra government, principal secretaries of state department of women and child development as well as school education, and Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) commissioner.
Earlier, Mirza lamented that even after 60 years of independence, thousands of street, tribal and nomadic children are being deprived of their right to education just due to the apathy of government authorities.
Pointing out an official record maintained by the deputy director of education in Nagpur, he revealed that around 600 children are not going to primary schools. In fact, such children between the ages of infancy to adolescence are noticed on several traffic signals either begging or selling goods. Many of them are seen working in hotels, restaurants, roadside tea and food stalls, brick kilns, construction sites, and garbage collection centres. Citing the example of Yashwant Stadium where hundreds of such children are seen begging, the lawyer contended that the respondent authorities have miserably failed in performing their constitutional and statutory obligations.
Mirza pointed out that these children are the future of the country and in order to have responsible citizens, they must be educated. Warning that the authorities are spoiling the future of the country, he said that though tax is being regularly collected in the name of education, taxpayers’ money is being wasted due to apathy of respondents.
He said that despite availability of funds, law, authority, infrastructure, programme and guidelines, state functionaries are not making any effort to reach the children who are not getting primary education.
The Times of India, June 24, 2011