Although education is a right, it still remains a distant dream for many of India’s children (“Where knowledge is poor,” Oct. 12). It is clear that it is not enough to make laws; they need to be augmented by more efforts. Education should be accessible to all if democracy is to succeed. Many communities and groups like disadvantaged castes and women have been historically excluded from education.
Devolution of powers is extremely important to make education accessible to children. Administration at the grass roots should be encouraged. Panchayats should have the power to decide whether a piece of land should be allocated to a power plant, hospital or elementary school.
The article rightly draws attention to the effects of poverty on children’s education. As a teacher, one is continuously made aware of the educational disadvantages and disruptions poor students suffer due to lack of economic stability and social security. Unless we have a strong and universally available state welfare apparatus, the education of the working class children will continue to be sacrificed. In all this, cultural values and pressures also take a particularly severe toll. The wilful complicity of the ruling castes and classes is amply evident as their domination is derived from maintaining economic and cultural status quo.
There is no doubt that the mid-day meal programme has improved enrolment and retention in schools. But many children continue to be deprived of primary education due to social and economic reasons like child marriage and bonded labour.
The lack of facilities in government schools, especially for girls, is another impediment. Although Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the Rajiv Vidya Mission have helped to improve infrastructure, they have not done enough to meet the expectations of the poor. Education should be reasonable and should reflect the needs of society.
The article was insightful. Many teachers do not take the trouble to understand the plight of poor children at home. Teachers posted in rural areas should be sensitised to the local issues.
I have seen the condition of village schools where children go to schools just to get food. Many middle class families admit their children in government schools but send them to private schools. The children are registered in government schools only to get benefits.