Observing that fundamental right of basic education should have priority over budget, politics and progress, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday directed the State government to ensure that most of the 1.7 lakh out-of-school children are in schools in the next academic year.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice B.V. Nagarathna issued these oral directions while also asking the government to submit a progress report by March 5 on the action taken following identification of 1.7 lakh out-of-school children, aged between seven and 14, in the survey conducted by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. “Budget is not a fundamental right but education is…,” the Bench observed when government counsel sought time to hold the meeting of the committee, which is overseeing the issue, citing that officials would be busy in view of the State Budget. The Bench was hearing a public interest litigation suo motu initiated by the court last year based on a newspaper report about children being out of school despite the RTE Act.

More out there

“You [government] are busy in collection of data. You have to move further…,” the Bench said when counsel pointed out that data from the Labour and the Women and Child Development departments on the number of child labourers and those on the streets is awaited.

25 per cent quota

The Bench orally asked the government to ensure that 25 per cent admission quota for children of economically weaker sections of society under the Right to Education Act is implemented effectively.

Incentives such as scholarship for children and midday meals should be ensured to all children so that once admitted to school, they do not drop out, the Bench said, while observing that “primary education was never implemented seriously ”.

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