Sell schools to build shopping malls! You heard me right. This is no joke but that is the latest ploy of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi in a view to fill their coffers. And 15 schools are apparently ready to be auctioned, 60 others are in the pipeline.
I am aghast and speechless. In a city where over 500 000 children do not have access to a primary school this is preposterous. The MCD runs 65% of the primary schools in the city and hence is the main provider of primary education. If it abdicates its mission then we, or rather the vulnerable children of India are doomed.
Mall mania is the (dubious) flavour of the day and as we all know greedy predators are on the prowl for prime locations. Those who belong to Delhi know are aware that there are municipal schools in almost every corner of the city, even in the so called posh areas. In many cases these are an eyesore and yet someone a long long time ago, while planning our city thought it wise to set these spaces aside so that children from all walks of life could ge an education. That was when education has not yet become a lucrative business option, when mall mania had not hit us, when values still existed. Today these pieces of land have become prime property and thus good money spinners.
Who is being once again sacrificed at the alter of greed are voiceless children like the little girl in the picture. It is already a herculean task to convince parents like hers to send their girl child to school, but if no school remains than the battle is lost before it even began. I am not one to accept the lame excuse that the schools are not running well. Such schools do not perform well because of the total lack of commitment of those who run them. In the last 9 years we at pwhy have proved that it did not take muck to ensure that children that such temples of education had written off as gone cases could not only pass their examinations but even top their classes. And it did not take much to do that: a park corner and a teacher who believed in them.
I hope better sense will prevail and that the schools will be spared the auctioneer's hammer. But I am afraid it might not be so.
It is sad that in a country where it took almost 60 years for children to claim their constitutional right to education, it is the very guardians of these rights who are taking these rights away from them. I have no words to express my horror.