Every day, at 7:15 am, Prachi’s mother walks the six-year-old to her school in Pune, walking cautiously past the corner of the road, to avoid the giant SUVs and sedans zipping past after dropping the wards at the fortress-like school complex. Prachi enters the school with a few other children from her neighbourhood, a colony of waste-pickers. Prachi’s mother is one of them, her father a rickshaw-puller. The lady’s back again in the afternoon, along with her neighbours. The broad road leading to the school is nearly empty, no cars in sight yet. Soon, she can be seen leading her daughter out. The kid is crying, protesting—refusing to go home. Most of her classmates are still in school, playing games and participating in extra-curricular activities. Her teachers, however, have told Prachi that she is not allowed to take part in them.
Brazenly violating principles of the RTE Act, this elite school in Pune, like several others in the country, has devised its own way to exclude children admitted under ews quota. Since the state government reimburses only the tuition fee, the school keeps such children out of any activity that takes place outside the four walls of a classroom. A working day is divided into two batches of four hours each. While classes are conducted in the first half of the day from 7.30 am to 12.30 pm, games and other interactive activities take place post-lunch, until 4.30 pm. ews children are forcefully sent out of the school after classes after the first half ends.
While most states have conditionally implemented RTE in the last two or three years, children who have joined schools under the 25 per cent quota are still too young to understand the nature of the discrimination, say activists. “Soon they’ll know the difference between neglect and discrimination and it can get deeply damaging for them. When older, they’ll look for outlets to express this anger,” says Bangalore activist Nagasimha Rao.
Several schools call EWS parents only to intimidate them, complaining about their children’s ‘dirty habits’ or asking for additional fee for extra-curricular activities. Often, parents eventually withdraw their children from private schools. In the initial years, several private schools in Delhi actually issued ID cards with a W marked against the names of EWS children. Some schools had different uniforms for the children, while some others conducted classes for poor children separately, at an altogether different hour.
The problem lies, primarily, with the view several schools take towards EWS admissions. “Private schools see reservations as being forced upon them by the government. Children then become the only outlet for them to vent their frustration against the state,” says Nagasimha Rao. “The government has to ensure schools are encouraged to implement RTE. Funds have to be released on time so that schools are not driven to deny admission or discriminate against these students.”
At the same time, parents too have to be made aware of their rights. “There is 25 per cent reservation for EWS category because the number amounts to a critical lot,” says lawyer-activist Ashok Agarwal. “With that strength, parents and children can come together to fight discrimination and in support of one another.”
As they did in Delhi. Not only does the national capital have a high EWS enrolment ratio because of the strong front parents and children in the state have put up in the years since RTE was implemented, the city has also come to a point where instances of blatant discrimination and denial of admission are relatively low, though not entirely absent.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
>> Private schools, usually built on subsidized land
Basis of this claim?
State sponsored social engineering hardly works in India, and the EWS scheme is no exception. Private schools, usually built on subsidized land, quickly forget their real mandate. And of course there is the inbuilt repugnance for the poor in such schools. Hence the status quo will remain.
Good to hear of positive news on RTE implementation from Delhi. Then there must be hope for the future. I Delhi can, then anywhere in India can.
However, RTE alone cannot be sufficient to solve the magnitude of the problem of primary education is India. Government schools will have to become functional.
"“Soon they’ll know the difference between neglect and discrimination and it can get deeply damaging for them. When older, they’ll look for outlets to express this anger,” says Bangalore activist Nagasimha Rao."
So be it - may be anger is what the doctored ordered for us to get to a better place as a society - may be 1 person 1 vote and education is not enough - the 3rd prong will have to be anger.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT