Thursday, February 13, 2014

Schoolkids on drive to raise RTE awareness before Delhi polls

Schoolkids on drive to raise RTE awareness before Delhi polls

NEW DELHI: As political parties are going all out with their campaigning, a batch of students is encouraging people to keep education in mind while casting their vote. In groups of 20, school-going volunteers with the Delhi chapter of RTE Forum, are visiting different parts of the city to "raise awareness" on issues in education. On Monday, the team was at Mandi House and ITO.

"Those with children in school, especially government schools, signed readily," says Arjun, 18, who attends a government institution in Trilokpuri and knows first-hand the problems that plague the education system. "Some 70 to 80 students sit in one class," he says, "There's no space. Half the teachers don't come and though there are toilets, they are always dirty."

"Those with school-going children already know the problems. At Red Fort, where we were on Sunday, the community was already aware of the problems," says Deepak who's just completed Class XII. Office-goers in ITO were less aware. "Many didn't even know when the RTE Act was passed," he says.

"The Right to Education Act was passed in 2009 and implemented in 2010 but there are many gaps in implementation," says Thomas a member of RTE Forum and of JOSH, an NGO.

"The idea is to act at the grassroots. There are problems with the teacher-student ratio and basics like toilets and water even in Delhi," he says. But the biggest threat, according to this group, is the possibility of a PPP (public-private partnership) model being introduced.

"Now, we can use the RTI Act to get information and fight back. With privatization, there will be no community participation and no platform left for us to question," says Thomas. RTE-Forum Delhi has developed a charter of demands which it is sending all political parties.

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