Street kids take le­gal route to ed­u­ca­tion

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - METRO - Fa­reeha Iftikhar fa­reeha.iftikhar@ht­dig­i­

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

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