There is a time to talk about how this Fundamental Right can be implemented better. And, there is a time to celebrate the fact that it is a fundamental right !
For now, i will feel good about the fact that a system cares enough to make this a Fundamental Right !
One of the things that you notice when you travel into India, is that communities that have traditionally been deprived formal education, bend over backwards to ensure that their children get educated. Often this is a daily struggle.
a child outside a balwadi in Udgir, Maharashtra – waiting to get into school. The child is from a Dalit family and faced discrimination in the main school. Dalit women set up a SHG and from their profits set up a school where their children can learn without discrimination.
This is the Pardhi school – the yellow plastic bag in the foreground contains all the educational material. Pardhis are a tribe in India who traditionally hunted for a living. However, in a more modern setup with the kings owning land – Pardhi’s were declared as criminals – hunting from the kings’ land. Ostracized they began to survive through minor crimes – poaching, making away with livestock and so on. Very often caste, class and social systems ensured that the Pardhi’s could not assimilate with main stream society, and their dependance on crime increased. The British Raj declared the Pardhi’s to be criminal tribes.
Post independence the term cirminal was dropped and attempts were made to bring the tribe in line with mainstream society. However, it hasn’t been easy. Even today the police will look for a Pardhi at the first hint of a crime. Villages don’t want Pardhi’s settling down near them – because of their past. Many settle illegaly on Forest Land and their settlements are torn down at regular intervals. All this leaves the children in dire straits. A nomadic lifes tyle is not condusive to education, and social ostracization means that they are wary of going to the local schools. NGO’s have set up a number of projects that help educate Pardhi children, Using volunteers it ensures that basic education skills are imparted to these children.
Hopefully, the fundamental right to education means that getting access to education is no longer a struggle. Now, all that remains is to put the teachers and infrastructure in place ! Given that this is now a Fundamental Right citizens can be more empowered to demand the supply of education in their neighbourhood…. What i would like to see now is a military like campaign that drafts teachers to give the new law a leg up. Maybe the State can start with those who have retired over the last 10 years and see if they can teach again !
It is not often that one has the opportunity to laud the Government – here is one. Well done !