Street kids take legal route to education
NEWDELHI: An eight-year-old girl has been begging at a traffic signal in Dwarka’s Sector 3 to help her family make ends meet. She had to drop out from her school at a village in Bihar at the age of five when her parents moved to Delhi three years ago. She has never been to school since.
She says she aspires to be a teacher one day. “Nobody has asked me to join school again. But I really want to study like other kids,” says the daughter of a daily labourer couple.
She is not alone; according to statistics Delhi-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) Chetna, there are over 5 lakh street kids in the national Capital who do not go to school and work to earn their livelihood instead.
A group of 70 such kids from different parts of the city, aged 5-10, have decided to approached the Delhi High Court seeking government’s help to access their right to education. On their behalf, an NGO which works in the field of education will file a petition in the court on Monday.
In its petition, the NGO, Justice for All, said it will urge the court to first direct the Delhi government, municipal authorities and Delhi Police to conduct a survey to identify the out-of-school street kids in the city.
“There is no accurate data on the number of children who are forced into begging. We need to identify such kids first and then ensure that they get enrolled in their neighbouring government schools,” said Khagesh Jha, advocate for the petitioner.
Jha said that for kids who do attend schools because of their family’s financial constraints, they will demand hostels from the government.
“There are thousands of kids who live in slums and resettle- ment colonies and do not have suitable environment at home. There is no one to encourage them to study. We are going to request the court to direct the government to construct an adequate number of hostel rooms to accommodate the destitute children and provide the appropriate training to them to prepare them for formal education,” he said.
Besides, the NGO will also urge the court to direct the government to ensure timely supply of free books, uniforms and stationery items for which they are entitled to under the right to education (RTE) act, 2009, so that they continue the education. “It’s very difficult to retain such kids once they are enrolled in schools. We need to provide timely entitlements to them to encourage them to come to schools. Otherwise, there is a high probability of them dropping out,” Jha said.
The court will also be urged to direct the government and municipal authority to appoint “attendance officer” to monitor these kids’ attendance.
“As per the Delhi Municipal Education Act an attendance officer should be there to ensure the attendance of poor children in the school and in the case of parental inefficiency is found behind their absence they can even penalise parents. We demand appointment of such officers in each and every zone in our petition,” Jha said.
There is no accurate data on number of children forced to beg. We need to identify such kids and ensure they are enrolled in govt schools. KHAGESH JHA, advocate for the petitioner