Many may have seen the evening news programme that showed a municipal school in Delhi where midday meals were stored in toilets and even classes were held in bathrooms.. a shocking revelation for sure.. but as I looked at the pictures of this resettlement colony school on the outskirts of delhi, I saw much more..
What some may have not noticed was the number of eager students, their eyes shining, a touching proof of their desire to be there.. in this temple of learning where their eyes did not see what was missing: they had a school and that was what mattered..
Slums get relocated to areas where there areno schools or school such as this one. Many of these children must have attended a school somewhere in Delhi where their homes was earlier.. on paper the authorities will show that the restelement colony has all amenities and necessities..never mind if the school is too small, does not have teachers, drinking water or electricity.. there is a school and the paper work is complete.
The children in this picture come to us in the morning after a cup of tea and maybe a bad quality rusk.. they carry no tiffin boxes and will go to their municipal school at 12.30pm where they will eat their midday meal: often a small bowl of rice or two poories. That will be the only sustainance they have till they reach back home around 6pm. Many may not know it but for many children the midday meal is not an addition to a normal diet but simply replaces one meal. The government was right when they said that the midday meal would incite children to attend school but what one sees is a something else.. I was told that in Bihar a district official had decided to hand out dry rations as an incentive. Often the collected rations of siblings provide the family with a decent meal.. maybe a better option that one should look at..
What makes one sad and angry is that where children are concerned every thing offered is short of.. something.. why can we not go all the way and provide the children a school with all amenities, many guaranteed by the Constitution..
In the same news bulletin there was an item about the enormous amounts of MPs unused funds, funds that should have gone to build infratructure.. and when funds are used as we have seen in our own area, they are used to make a skating rink where no one skates, while schools are without toilets..
This is a time where people like us should ask questions and see that the gap between laws and implementation is bridged: be it the court order on medical care or the constitutional right to basic education..
It was heart wrenching but also heart warming to see a little girl say in the very programme that depicted the sad state of her school how she enjoyed coming to learn her alphabet and her tables.. for that is why she came to school..
The children of India are the best you can have, we do not have the right to let them down.. and if we do we must be prepared for consequences and ready with answers..