I dropped by the women centre yesterday and decided to spend some time with a bunch of spirited boys who had joined the centre recently. There were about 6 or 7 of them and most of them were students of class VI of the sole government secondary school in the area.
We started talking of many things but very soon the conversation veered to their school life. As the kids talked about their school in a bantering tone, I could not stop the rising anger that welled inside me.
We never have class as there are no teachers said one, to which the other added:We just give our attendance and then leave. The principal beats children with a stick, even small children piped another kid. Yes but the gujjars beat the teachers retorted yet another.
Hearing all these candid revelations I could not imagine that what was being talked about was a school, a place of learning where tender minds were supposed to be imparted knowledge. I was unable to process the information. I needed to know more. I sat down and asked the kids to explain what actually happened in the school.
Madanpur Khader is a gujjar village and the gujjar are known for their violent ways. Over the years many gujjar families have built tenements for the ever increasing migrant population and recently a resettlement colony has also come up in the vicinity of the village. hence the local school has a mixed population of gujjars and migrants hailing from Bengal, Bihar and other places. It seems that parents of gujjar children threaten and browbeat teachers and hence teachers hardly come to school. Teachers on the other hand victimise other kids hence the beating and wielding of sticks!
The children I met want to study and above all want to go to another school. But other schools are located miles away though the lads are willing to travel by bus however admissions are not easy.
We plan to visit the school and find out what actually happens. Maybe we will need to talk to the gujjar parents too and explain to them that what they are doing is against the interest of their own children. We of course will ensure that these boys keep up with their studies.
But once again the whole question of education comes to the fore. Laws, court orders, even constitutional rights are ineffective when one looks at the reality that stares at us. And once again innocent children are the victims.