A recent mail from an activist friend brought to light the plight of senior secondary government school girls who were told not to come to school if they did not purchase all the school books needed for their class. Most of these students were from extremely poor families and could not afford to buy the said books. Many of the girls had actually stopped going to school for fear of the reprimand they would be subjected to. It seemed that the latest reason for dropping out off school could just be the inability to purchase school books.
That girls from poor and deprived homes reach senior classes is nothing short of a miracle. Very often parents who are more than willing to provide tuition classes for their sons, find doing the same for their daughters a waste of money. Girls are often left to their own devices. Moreover their study time is often truncated as they are given innumerable house tasks: from looking after their siblings to cooking and cleaning. Parents would rather see them drop out of school than purchase books for them. And if the schools sing the same tune, the girls are doomed.
Every election manifesto has heralded the need to look at the girl child and better her plight. Yet while such lofty ideas are being trumpeted, girls in India's capital city are at the risk of dropping out of school because they cannot afford to buy school books. There has to be a way out. Schools could keep a pool of books and lend them to needy students. This would be eminently doable if curriculum did not change every year, as the books could be passed on to the next batch. A fine could be charged if the books were spoiled.
It is unacceptable to have children drop out of school in senior classes because they cannot buy books. Something needs to be done... now!