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New Delhi: Studies have shown free education in India is far from being a reality with 20% of government schools across nine states still charging admission fee and 42% charging money for study materials.
The dropout rate is at 24%, while 16% schools don’t have drinking water facility; 33% lack separate toilets for boys and girls.
All this and much more was revealed in a report released by Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), an NGO, on the eve of the first anniversary of Right To Education (RTE) Act, 2009.
The NGO had conducted a fact-finding survey across 251 government schools in 33 districts and 146 gram panchayats in nine states.
The study showed how children in the age-group of eight to 14 years, who are listed as enrolled students in Darbhanga, Bihar, are actually working as bonded labourers in Delhi. It has also claimed that 25% of all children between 6 and 14 years are still out of school.
BBA founder Kailash Satyarthi said: “The study was a fact-finding mission to find out if schools have been able to implement the RTE, and if the hardest to reach children (labourers, physically challenged, HIV positive, migrants and displaced) in states like Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Jharkhand, among others are being benefitted. What we found out is that the government has utterly failed. We don’t have a clear policy on how to bring these children to school. Opening schools and giving mid-day meals won’t automatically bring them to schools. The law itself has its share of loopholes. This is the only fundamental right which cannot be challenged in court. Its monitoring agencies are commissions appointed by the government and are toothless tigers, as they are only recommending bodies.’’
The report stated that of the 43,786 students in these 251 government schools, 21% are newly enrolled children, and in this one year, 24% of children have dropped out as well. The dropout rate in UP is as high as 30%, while in Bihar it is 25%.
“Government statistics are a big farce as we came across examples of bonded labourers trafficked out of Bihar to Delhi and other parts. They were school-going students, whose names are still there on the rolls for the state government and central government to boast about in the assemblies and Parliament,” said Satyarthi.
According to BBA statistics, of the 12,000 children it has freed from child labour, names of 90% of those are still in the active enrolled lists of schools, and the latter are getting mid-day meals in the name of these children as well.
Amidst these gloomy figures, pockets in Bihar and UP have shown improvement in enrolment and mid-day meal schemes, the studies found.
24% children still drop out of school Hidden costs in education for poor — 20% schools charge fee during admission and 40% charge money for study material Only 33% children have access to free education 37% schools just provide textbooks. No free notebooks, uniforms or bags are given
While RTE Act, 2009, says students can be admitted at any time of the year, 30% schools don’t allow this
16% schools don’t have drinking water facility
33% schools do not have separate toilets for boys/girls
Source: Study conducted by Bachpan Bachao Andolan across 251 government schools in 33 districts and 146 gram panchayats of nine states during public hearings on education where 30,240 people participated