This Article is From Sep 01, 2009

Manipur kids high on dope, low on hope

Churachandpur/Guwahati: In Manipur's Churachandpur district, in total violation of child rights, a phenomenally high percentage of students are not only being forced to drop out of school, but are also subjected to abuse and exploitation.

Thirteen-year-old Thang works seven days a week at a stone quarry on Tipaimukh road outside Churachandpur town. He earns forty rupees a day and is the sole bread-earner for his family.

"I dropped out in 2007 when my father passed away. My mother had no means to send me to school so I dropped out," said Thang.

Fifteen-year-old Kai dropped out of Blue Star school in Churachandpur in 2006 and was recruited as a child soldier.

"I dropped out after my father's death and I joined an underground organisation," said Kai.

Kai and Thang dropped out of school three years back and have been doing drugs since then.

"I gave up school in class eight," said Dang.

Thousands of children drop out of school every year in Churachandpur. Last year's survey shows that of the twenty thousand children in the age group of six to fourteen - 6000 were out of school of which 2000 had dropped out and the rest never enrolled themselves.

In many villages the government schools do not even exist. The rest fail to maintain minimum standards and not all guardians can afford private schools.

Article 45 of the Indian Constitution had pledged to give free and compulsory education for all children till fourteen years of age.

It has taken more than six decades to amend the Constitution to enact the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education. Meanwhile, one half of the nation continues to be functionally illiterate.