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Teenage kids stage protest for education

Apr 15, 2010

Young children of a colony, in Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla launched a protest on Wednesday, demanding a chance to study in a good school. The local protest raises a national issue of lack of availability of quality education to the masses.

New Delhi: Fourteen-year-old Shivam has been sitting at home since he passed out from class VIII at a government school last year. Not that he didn't want to study further. He says that he couldn't get admission in a "good" school.

Shivam and many others like him living in 100 Quarters, Valmiki Colony, in the Ferozeshah Kotla area hope now that right to education is a law, they would also get a chance to pursue their dreams. On the eve of Ambedkar Jayanti, the young children launched a protest, demanding a chance to study in a good school.

According to children and their parents, the reservation for poor students in most private schools is a farce and the infrastructure and quality of education in government schools is not good enough. "I was asked to go to another government school after class VIII. But I heard the teachers in that school ask children to do odd jobs for them. So I didn't want to go there. My parents then tried in many private schools but were turned away every time," said Shivam. "I want to become an actor but I also want to finish school. I think it can't happen now."

On Tuesday evening, these children got together with a couple of NGOs to make yarn on a spinning wheel as a mark of protest. On April 25, the children will perform in a play called Vyatha based on the new right to education.

"Younger kids in our basti go to MCD schools but they hardly have any infrastructure or quality education. Most of them drop out at the secondary level," said Sanjay Taank, a resident of the basti, who helps other parents with admissions of their children. "We live in the heart of the city but the benefits of reservation for poor students in private schools and the right to education haven't reached our children so far."

According to Taank, either government should provide quality education in its schools or facilitate admission in private schools. "Many private schools in the vicinity mostly deny our children admission. They say that they don't want underprivileged students. We hope to carry on with our protest by spreading awareness about the RTE, meeting government officials and the education minister if need be," Taank said.

He added that only four or five people in a colony of about two thousand people have been able to do graduation. "Most end up in private jobs for meagre salaries or become safai karamcharis like their parents," he added.

The government officials say children could not get admission because they dare to make a choice. "Only some number of seats are reserved for poor students in private schools. They can't admit any child if all seats (in this category) are taken up," said Rakesh Mohan, education secretary, Delhi government. "The RTE will be implemented in letter and spirit from only next session. We will ensure no child is turned away from government schools."

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