Eighty-five-year old Zahur Shah from the 250-year-old Badarpur Khadar village said he was searching for the cancer camp some time back when a passer-by told him he was standing in front of it.
“Agar mujhe padna aata toh mere itne ghante usko dhoondne mein nahi lagte. Padai likhai ke bina insaan janwar jaisa hai,” says the father of nine children, and this family of three generations has never been to school.
This largely Muslim-dominated hamlet has never had electricity or a school or even a madrassa. The nearest ones are 6 km (in UP) and 8 km (Delhi) away.
The HRD ministry claims that in 98 per cent of habitations, kids have access to a primary school within 1 km.
Shah is keen that his ten-year-old granddaughters, Naheen and Naziya, get an education.
Despite India having signed the Right To Education Act last year, which promises free and compulsory education to children aged 6-14, a nationwide poll conducted by the NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan in 9 states earlier this month, says that only one in six Indians are aware of a law on education.
The findings also reveal that only one third children receive education free, one in five are charged a fee for admission and less than 60 per cent have access to drinking water and mid-day meals.
While releasing a report on People’s Report Card on Education in the capital on Wednesday, the president of the Global Campaign for Education Kailash Satyarthi said that it was shocking that free education of good quality is still beyond the reach of most Indians.