Children studying in elite schools in the Rajasthan capital under the 25 per cent RTE (Right to Education) quota are going back to the streets as daily wagers as the existing norms fail to ensure continuous education for them till class 12. Section 3 of the Right to Education Act lays down that every child from the age of 6 to 14 years enjoys the right of free and compulsory education in his/her neighbourhood school till the completion of his/her elementary education. The elementary education here stands for class 8.
"After completing class 8, these students have nowhere to go. After studying in the most modern schools with state-of-the-art facilities, parents force them into bangle-making or working on the streets. This is terrible to see," said administrative officer of an elite school in Jaipur.
"We have been getting some very talented students under the RTE quota. However, what saddens us that poor parents unable to bear expenses of their higher studies, prefer to engage them in a job/work for additional income to support the family," he added.
Schools say they can't speak out against government policies as their affiliation stands risked but insist that there was a strong need for changes in the RTE Act to extend its benefits beyond elementary education.
Principal of another renowned school said: "This 25 per cent RTE quota is meant to benefit children, who are the future of the country. But no one bothers about the future of these poor kids after they complete elementary education."
"As it is, they study with a feeling of inferiority. They can't match their fellow students from well-to-do families, but try to cope up with the situation and study hard. Their parents can't give them as much attention as they need, so we, the teachers, ensure they get extra hours to catch up with their counterparts. But what is the point of all these efforts, if the children ultimately have to go back to the drudgery they are seeking an escape from?" she asked.
"Parents of most of these kids work as drivers and house helps. After completing class 8, they join their parents in their jobs," she said.
When contacted, State Education Minister Govind Singh Dotasra told IANS that the Ashok Gehlot government was working on a new education policy for the state.
"A committee is working to streamline education. We are planning to write to the Centre to extend the ambit of classes under the RTE Act from 1-12, instead of 1-8," he said.
"The Central government must look into this while working on National Education Policy," he added.
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