RTE still a riddle for Bangalore domestic workers

 While 42 children of ragpickers in Pune are all set to begin a promising academic year under the provisions of the Right To Education Act, domestic workers in Bangalore are waking up to the potential of the provisions to provide better education to their children. 

 
This is mainly due to lack of awareness, according to Domestic Workers Rights Union (DWRM) that comprises nearly 2,200 domestic workers spread across the City.

According to the guidelines issued by the Department of Public Instruction, the Block Education Officers (BEO) of each area are responsible for the dissemination of information and instruction with regards to the number of seats under the RTE and other information through a public platform.

And considering that this is a provision for the socially and economically backward people like domestic workers, they are the ones who need to avail of the provision more than anyone.

However, many of the domestic workers had never heard anything about the provision from their BEO’s. A few who heard about it this year are trying to get their children enrolled using the provision. But they are facing a number of challenges.

“When I go to the BEO office to get the forms, they ask me to go to the taluk office to get my documents made and when I go there they ask me to bring the forms first. In schools, they are not accepting income certificates that are valid for one year. I am confused.

I have been running around from door to door for the last 15 days”, said Rosy, a domestic worker.

Rosy and another domestic worker Yashodhara are the only two from the entire union who have shown keen interest in getting their children enrolled under the RTE.

However, the kind of reception they are receiving has the potential to dismay other members of the association who want to use the Act.    

Besides the lack of information, a fear of the consequences of mixing two economically divergent groups in schools was a major concern among the domestic workers.

News about children who enrolled themselves during the first year of the implementation of the RTE receiving a stepmotherly treatment further fuelled and confirmed their fears.

“Being more of a government diktat than something that the schools implemented voluntarily, our members were highly sceptical of the entire provision and with good reason,” said Geeta Menon, secretary, DWRM.

However, despite the unforeseen and expected hurdles, more domestic workers are now enquiring about how to enrol their children under the act. “Of late, I have been giving advices and directions on what to do and where to go to a few who have shown interest,” said Rosy.

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