Campaign for Right to Education begins

The State Departments of Education and Labour, in association with Bachpan Bachao Andolan and other NGOs, launched the “Bangalore March for Right to Education-2012” (RTE) on Thursday, to create awareness about the right to free and compulsory education.

A mobile awareness campaign on the march, ‘Shikshana Janajagruti Bandi,’ with tour all the Assembly constituencies. Besides, the campaign will call for the eradication of child labour.

Legislators will also speak  on the importance of sending children to school and eradicating child labour in their respective constituencies. The programme will culminate on June 12, on the occasion of World Anti-Labour Day, at Freedom Park in Bangalore.

But critics question the movement’s timing as many schools have already closed admissions for the year. Vani Kantli, an organiser from Bachpan Bachao Andolan, downplayed the late start.

“Enrolment for the current academic year is still on in places,” Kantli explained. “This is the time when parents face hurdles from school administrators.”

1,000 enrolments

One of the campaign’s objectives is to have 1,000 under-privileged students enrolled in schools and to track their progress there after. Campaigners also advocate a 25 per cent reservation for students from under-privileged backgrounds in aided and unaided schools.

Detailed information about the campaign’s objectives would be released during the march, Kantli said.

Freedom Fighter H S Doreswamy, who recently spoke on the issue, said that many parents do not willingly send their children to work. “Poverty is a killer, which is leading to such problems,” Doreswamy said.

As money is the central factor in private schooling, education is seriously hurt, Doreswamy added.

“How can you accept people, who oppose 25 percent reservation for underprivileged children, as educationists? How can anybody get sleep when children are suffering as labourers?”

Department of Primary and Secondary Secretary G Kumar Naik said on Thursday that the Education Department would ask private schools to furnish a list of admissions under the 25 per cent reservation for underprivileged children, as per the RTE.
Notice to schools

“We will go through the list and if the schools do not comply with RTE rules, notices will be issued to them,” he said.

“This will be done within seven to ten days,” he added.

When questioned about the timing of the awareness campaign, Naik said that it was the right time as schools have just begun. The drive will ensure enrolment of children to schools as per RTE provisions.

Children who fought their way out

Bhagyavathi, an eighth standard student from a city school, dreams of becoming a CBI officer. “I want to nab culprits involved in illegal activities,” she said.

But as she related her story at an RTE event on Thursday, it quickly became clear that she faced an uphill task.

Bhagyavathi is a child labourer who worked at a quarry in Tamil Nadu.

The family moved to Bangalore in search of a better life but Bhagyavathi continued to work. Although an encounter with volunteers from Sparsha NGO convinced her mother, Bhagya, to send her to school, her father expressed skepticism about her achievement in school, saying that her first priority should be to learn housework.

But with her mother’s support, Bhagyavathi was enrolled in school and hopes to finish her education.

For another child, Darshan the transition from worker to student was harder.

The 13 year-old boy used to beat drums at village festivals and was forced to escape from his village in order to school. Once in Bangalore, however, Darshan was forced to join a hotel as a cleaner.

“People used to scold me if I spilled even a drop of tea from the glass while serving,” he said.

“Later, when I was employed as a construction worker, a weight fell on me while I was lifting sacks of cement. There were many days when I fainted because of dehydration.
Now I am in school with the help of an NGO. My aim is to take as many children as possible out of child labour,” he added. 

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