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Many Below Poverty Line families unaware of Right To Education provisions

Access to education, Right to Education

JAIPUR: The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the Constitutional validity of the right of children to get free and compulsory education under the Right To Education (RTE) Act which also makes it mandatory for the private schools to reserve 25% seats for the underprivileged children. While social activists hailed the ruling and the school authorities remained unimpressed, it would be long before the beneficiaries actually understand and gain out of the directive.

Lack of awareness is one of the major challenges that the state government needs to overcome to ensure that the directive is well implemented. Most people below the poverty line are unaware of the provisions under the Act and surprised to know that their kids too can go to a well-known private school in their areas.

Basanti Biswas, a mother of four children, said she works as a maid so that she can fulfill the needs of her children. “I can’t read and write, therefore I want my children to study and become something in their life. Our earnings are very low and don’t have enough money to pay the fees of a private school. I am sending my children to the government school but we are dissatisfied by the education provided there,” she said.

Most teachers in government schools don’t seem pay attention towards the education of their students. Some parents charged them with taking their children out of their classes before the time to their homes and engaged them in their household work. “My elder daughter who is in the 3rd standard was taken by her class teacher to her for household work. On the complaint of my daughter, I went to her school and she wasn’t there. She was never present whenever I went to her school,” a parent said.

Lavraj Singh Rathore, a screen printing worker and a father of three said, “I was happy when I heard the news that the government has passed the RTE Act. My daughter is two-year-old and my other two kids go to private schools. The school fee that I have to pay is Rs 900 for three months and my earnings are not well. It will be a good opportunity for our kids if they get a quality education and without fees. But I don’t know whether the schools will agree to this decision or not.”

Abdul, a fish seller said, “Since the last three years I haven’t sent my kid to school because I don’t have money to pay the fees.” Abdul was not aware about the RTE and when informed about it, he said does not have much hope from it. “I have been watching the functioning of various governments for the past 30 years. Tall promised are made but only few fulfilled,” he said, adding that he would be the happiest father if his kids could go back to school.

Munish kumar, an RTE activist said, “We will draw support from the students to create awareness on the provisions of Right to Education Act by distributing pamphlets and street plays in the slum areas.”

District education officer S C Meena said, “The state government has planned many activities to create awareness on the most important provisions of this Act which says that 25 % seats to be reserved for the economically disadvantage group.”

The Times of India, 16 April 2012

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