Monday, January 2, 2017

Granting some rights is denial of other rights : Cases of Trilokpuri and Noor Nagar

 The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 has communicated and executed free and compulsory education to children between 6 and 14 years of age but the question before the government and concerned body is about the actual performance of the Act on the ground. No doubt the Act has communicated the right to education and hope for literate future generations in communities, especially amongst underprivileged sections of the society. However the attainment of the free and compulsory education to all children aged 6 to 14 is still not only an unsettled ambition but has also opened the gateway to deny the educational rights of some children.
A Social Volunteer is teaching a group of children
An important question here is how a granted right can open gateway to deny the educational right? Herbert Kaufman has rightly said “when the people rail against red tape, they mean that they are subjected to too many constraints, that many of the constraints seem pointless, and that agency seem to take forever to act.” This Act has created many constraints that restrict children from accessing education. One of them is age restriction - the free and compulsory education is restricted to only ages between - 6 and 14 years with age wise class allotment. On the former theme many of the scholars have written, the denial of free education before 6 years of age as well as after 14 years of age but restricted number of activist and scholars have raised the issue of the age wise class allocation or in red tape words “age appropriate class”. This provision has raised the question of quality education and created a loop hole to deny the educational right by using the age factor. The concerned person for the admission in primary school asks the parent to go for admission in upper primary school even if the child wants (or better fit) to take admission in primary school. A live example took place a few days back when I went to enroll one drop out child in Noor Nagar primary school where the teacher denied admission because of his age, which is 14 years old. The school teacher not only denied the admission on the ground of unjustified logic of over age and half cooked rule of Right to Education Act but one teacher said “there is no option to get admission in any school and only way to do tenth is by getting admission in an open school”. The irrational statement did not end here; he wrenched the dream of the mother by putting a figure of 6000 rupees to get admission in open school in such a cash crunch situation. The parents belong to Noor Nagar pahadi slum community and migrated here from Uttar Pradesh. A similar incidence happened 4 months ago with the same child when I went with his mother to enroll the child in Sarvoday Baal Vidyalay, Noor Nagar but they denied admission on the ground that the date of admission was over. When we met the principal of the school, he used disrespectful words and asked us to leave the room. I emailed a complaint letter regarding the incident to the Deputy Director of Education of south Delhi but no action has been taken.
Children are engaged in drawing activities 
I have been working with ABC… Campaign since 2012 and we have enrolled around 30 children from the slum community in and around Jamia Millia Islmia, New Delhi. Amid these mainstreaming activities we often faced problems with the process of admission with children being denied admission on red tape grounds although some children have successfully enrolled. Recently one more heart wrenching story came to our notice - a child has been denied admission by many schools of Trilokpuri area only because she has gone through an open heart surgery and no school wants to take the risk of admitting her though she has been coming to a Learning Centre started by ABC Campaign in collaboration with Foundation for Equal Citizenship in the same areas. We are now trying to enroll her in a nearby school as her parents have re-gathered courage to provide her education.  
All these incidences highlight the hidden lopehole of The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009. School administration and staff are using the age factor as a tool to avoid the burden of admissions of children from underprivileged background; in other words this awarded right is denying the right of many children by using its own rule of the Act. This doesn’t mean rights should not be given but the matter is to reduce the denial of the right through critical analysis and amendments. Anil Sadgopal, an educationist has rightly said “it is a fraud on our children. It gives neither free education nor compulsory education. In fact, it only legitimizes the present multi-layered, inferior quality school education system where discrimination shall continue to prevail.”  


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