The Right to Education Act brought in its wake a new hope for universalization of education in the country. The children of the underprivileged section of the society who were deprived of this basic right can now demand it as their fundamental right.
This does not appear to be just our problem but a general one across the country. Even in West Bengal according to the article in Teacher Plus (February 2010 issue) `What a clean toilet can do”, out of 1.04 crore children who enroll in class 1, only 14.05 lakh make it to secondary school – a shocking 90% drop out!
There is a dropout rate of 4% at the primary level, 19% between classes 6 and 8, and 50% at the high school level. So, barely 25% of those who enroll at the class 1 level get to class 10! If at the primary level the child’s foundation is so weak she cannot survive at higher levels.
Central Government figures show that 12 million children are engaged in child labour and out of school. Starting April 1 education is the right of every child in India but the Right to Education Act has not made any specific provision to bring the child labourers back into regular school.
Seven-year-old Anil Patel doesn't go to school. He works with his parents on a small piece of land 70 kms from Ahmedabad. His parents say they could not afford the school fee. "Even if I decide to teach him, where will I fund his expenses from?" asks Anil's father Narsinh Patel. After the sowing season is over, the Patels move to Ahmedabad as migrant labourers for six months and take Anil with them. The seven-year-old doesn't know what he's missing out on. Having spent most of his life away from school he says he doesn't want to attend class. "I don't want to go to school. The teachers used to beat me up," he says. Like Anil, Kakali Baidya was also denied the right to education. The 14-year-old was studying in class 1 when her family moved to Kolkata for work. The shift cost Kakali her education and the...