Temple fairs, markets will be raided five days a week

With the relative success of raids on temple fairs and marketplaces conducted over six months last academic year to crackdown on child begging and dropouts, the district Education Department has decided to start their raids this year from mid of June, this time more intensely.

With the co-ordination of the Department of Women and Child Development, Labour Department, nongovernmental organisations and the police, the raids will be conducted every working day at “busy” spots such as festival days at Kateel Temple or at Gokarnath Temple. The series of raids will eventually cover all the seven educational blocks in the district.

The maiden project started in October last year and continued till March this year. The department used to conduct raids once in 15 days. A total of 26 children were rescued, of which around seven were dropouts, the rest were children from here and outside the State who had skipped school to make a quick buck.

“We were surprised to find that many runaways were from the Koraga community in Ganjimath. We could trace the parents and counsel the children and parents. Their progress has been followed up. For the others, the parents were warned against using their children for work when they had school to attend,” said Geeta Devdas, Assistant Project Officer, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

However, officials admit the efficacy of the raids last year suffered from two practical difficulties: first, that parents can only be counselled or advised, but not penalised as the provision does not exist in Right to Education Act; and secondly, the lesser frequency of raids (20 raids in seven sectors implies one market may be raided only once) does not effectively curtail child begging or child labour.

Solutions

While the solution to the first problem is policy driven, the solution to the second is merely on managing the staff effectively. “It is best to have everyday raids or far more frequent raids to effectively curb dropouts and beggars,” said SSA Deputy Project Coordinator N. Shivaprakash.

Though the SSA cannot penalise the parents, Mr. Shivaprakash said a degree of fear can be achieved by directly rehabilitating children at a government institution. “The parents are given a stern warning before returning the child. If these raids are continued for three months, we will see a definite impact here,” he said.