Shameful neglect of children must end
By J S Rajput
29th July 2012 12:00 AM
Every day, one comes across a couple of cases of cruelty and humiliation being inflicted on young children. Children die regularly in borewells and unprotected pits. The barbaric humiliation of a teenage girl in Guwahati shamed the entire nation. The medical condition of a girl in the Shanti Niketan School is treated in the most inhuman and uncultured manner. In Bangalore, ‘the RTE quota children’ are humiliated by special hair-cuts, later ascribed to the classmates. From Tamil Nadu comes the shocking story of an engineering student who was forced to quit the institution as he suffered from leucoderma. These three instances do not represent even the tip of the iceberg; thousands and thousands of children suffer in all possible, even unconceivable, ways at the hands of the elders and exploiters. For policymakers and senior bureaucrats, these are mere ‘matters of detail’ in which they are not interested. Unfortunately, it is this apathy that de-motivates even the most enthusiastic of men and women imbued with the spirit of serving others. If government had given due priority to universal elementary education and preparation of quality teachers, much of the sufferings of young children could have been minimised. Everyone laments the depressing conditions in most government schools. Private schools are determined to maintain segregation in spite of RTE provisions.
In this environment of gloom, it is so encouraging to meet motivated young persons taking initiatives to bring children from deprived and deficient families to the fold of education. The system puts forward umpteen hurdles to ‘prevent’ such initiatives. It was a narration from a young educated person imbued with idealism. He arranged educational opportunity for over 350 children from a JJ colony of migrant labourers in the much-hyped township of Gurgaon. Parents have no identity cards of any category — they cannot give a proper residence proof — and this makes them easy prey to police vigilance-visits at regular intervals. They talk of terrorist presence, issue threats and leave after ‘you-know-what’. It was not easy to persuade these parents to send their children to this ‘school’. That their children were getting educated made them think of further possibilities and the issue of government recognition and certification also came up. The quest for government approval — mandatory after RTE — begins with a visit to the office of the district chief of school education. He has no time for him or any interest in such cases. His office suggests that the young person may meet the officer dealing with elementary education. This officer, busy in a zestful conversation with someone from a public school, gave clear indications of his dislike for being disturbed. He refuses to listen to any details and directs him to see the “bade babu”. This next-stage seasoned officer, leisurely enjoying tea and samosas, does not even offer him a seat. “So you too want to open a new school for your benefit” is the remark he makes sarcastically. He tells this young person, “See me at my place. It is not possible to discuss these important things here; I have so many important visitors.” In another try the same day, the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan boss tells him to go to Chandigarh as he has not been given any authority. Some ‘well-wishers’ are around, willing to be helpful. He is informed how difficult it is to get recognition, particularly after the RTE. But things can be managed. After about five hours in and around the ‘nerve centre’ for education in the district, the young person leaves the premises.
Children shall continue to suffer till the government system succeeds in keeping the community at a distance and till transparency is actually visible to one and all. Politics without principles impacts every aspect of life and everyone, including children.
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