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Govt shuts down mobile schools for slum kids

Access to education, Community Schools, Right to Education

BANGALORE: The Right to Education (RTE) which is aimed at providing compulsory education to children below 14 has actually spelt a doom for 421 children in Bangalore’s slums.

Even as the government is citing financial constraints in implementing the RTE, it has scrapped the system of mobile schools simply because the RTE does not have the provision.

The school on wheels provided basic learning for slum children in seven areas in the city.

“We were taught at the mobile school which was informative and interesting. Although we have a tent school in place now as an alternative, there is a lot of distraction. We are out of the classroom most of the time to attend to household chores,” said seven-year-old Babita of Kothanur Dinne slum, who once enjoyed her lessons imparted at mobile schools and is currently attending classes at the tent school, located in the slum area.

She is not alone. The move to scrap the doorstep-learning has deprived many a children like her of basic learning. Eight-year-old Chenamma also spends most of her time out of the tent school. There is no serious teaching at the tent school,” said Chenamma.

The lessons at the tent school are elementary in nature. I would attend mobile school every day, but from June, the vehicles stopped coming into our slum. Whatever is taught in the tent is something that we have already learnt. So what is the point in attending the class?” asked 10-year-old Guruprasad.

The scene is worse in other slums where there are no tent schools.


CM Rajendra, director, (Programmes) at Sarva Shiksha Abhiyana (SSA), Bangalore, told TOI: “There is no provision for the concept of mobile schools in the RTE. The project was brought to a halt from June 2011 after it did not get approval from the ministry of human resource development. We had seven mobile schools that used to conduct seven hour classes for slum children and followed the state syllabus.”

A S Seetharamu, consultant, SSA, Bangalore, said mobile schools have felicitated regular schooling among slum children. “These schools were set up owing to a demand for non-formal schools. Government has introduced many schemes to compensate for mobile schools. But it will take time to implement.”

What has angered educationists is the government’s move to scrap the system even before the RTE has come into force. “The concept of mobile school might not fall in the same nomenclature as mainstream schools, but could have been a fantastic platform that would have eased the implementation process of RTE. Although the act talks about the bridge course, it still remains a gray area as nothing is prescribed yet. Mobile schools could have been used as bridge schools covering the gap. Now It will be difficult to bring back those children as they are the most vulnerable group and tend to go back to work. The step will result in many children coming back on street, which is violation of fundamental rights,” said Niranjanaradhya VP, Centre for child and the law, NLSUI.

What were mobile schools?

The mobile school project was started under the SSA education-for-all policy in 2001. This project was aimed at providing education to the underprivileged children in slums. It was aimed at bringing children to regular schools after providing a year of mobile schooling.

Under this project, old buses were converted into mobile classrooms and Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation contributed buses. The mobile schools in the city were catering to the slum areas of HSR Layout, Vinayaka Layout, Kothanur Dinne, Rajarajeshwarinagar, Shambhavinagar, Banaswadi and Yelahanka. The children were picked up from their homes, taught in these schools from 8.30 am to 3.30 pm and dropped back home after classes. The project was scrapped in June 2011.

The Times of India, 04 January 2012


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