No piece cake!

To be born in today's India is no piece of cake. I have been watching with horror and sadness the terrible plight of parents whose are trying to get their children admitted in nursery classes in private schools this year. It is nothing short of a never ending nightmare both for what we may call 'ordinary' parents and those from humbler homes who want to avail of the 25% reservation in these classes. I remember when I first heard of this absurd solution to the stipulations of the Right to Education Act, I knew it would be more than a herculean task.

 A new court order has now stayed all procedures till March 24th following yet another petition challenging a previous order! The whole process looks like a play worthy of the best theatre of the absurd, a new version of Waiting for Godot with the protagonists being: an innocent toddler, harried parents and a clueless administration. Lots are drawn, then cancelled, to be drawn again with no one knowing which mother will knock at the courts of justice and break down in court following the results of the next draw. And as this saga goes on, the rule makers get tied in knots and more knots that would soon resemble an Arachnean web impossible to unravel.

One could watch all this with amused aloofness were it not for the thousands of children whose future lies in a little piece of paper in a box with all the odds stacked against it. How can a self respecting state, one who insists on being considered as a world power, not ensure access equitable education to all its children. In any supposedly civilised country a child should be able to get admission to a school it could walk to. That could be a reality if our Government decided once for all to model every school they run to the image of the central schools that are also run by them. The commercialisation of education is not a solution to Education for All. State run schools should be an option for every child, rich or poor. Sadly that is not the situation today and one does not have to be literate or 'educated' to understand that a child has a better chance in a school where there are 40 children in a class as compared to one that has 100+!

The 2014 - 2015 version of this absurd saga began in mid January. Guidelines on the (ill)famed 100 points system were issued. The new 'neighbourhood' criteria was extended from 6 to 8km! I thought neighbourhood was walking distance, but 8km would give you 70 points. Then there were points for siblings, girls and staff children, staff here being extended from parents to grandparents. 25% of the seats had to be reserved for disadvantaged children. Get the picture. Now in a country like India you can circumvent any issue so people get fake tenancy agreements and fake documents to avail of the 25% category. Slum parents are barely aware of this facility and even if they are, often do not have the documents needed. So it all looks like a joke.

But children cannot be treated with such contempt. Their future cannot be left to a draw of lots where there are 80 seats and 5000 applicants. And why are you disadvantaged if your a an only child, a first born or a boy!

It is time the law makers did something about education. Children cannot wait. With every day lost you jeopardize the future of an innocent child who remains helpless and lost.