The only thing Dev Ashish wants is to go to school.
And no, the six-year-old does not want admission in any of the top private Delhi schools. Admission in the Delhi government-run Sarvodaya Vidyalaya in Rohini is fine. His parents are street vendors in Rohini Sector 3 and are illiterate, but want their son to get an education.
Dev's parents and his paternal uncle have been running from pillar-to-post for the last one month for his admission, but to no avail. No one is willing to give them even an admission form over one technicality or the other. The Sarvodaya Vidyalala in Sector 3, Rohini refused to give an admission form to his father. After he obtained it through an acquaintance, the school refused to accept it.
"We couldn't get him admitted last year as he was unwell. Since Dev is 6 now, the principal is refusing him admission in Class 1, saying he is too old. What is the use of implementing Right to Education (RTE) when the children of poor people like us can't go to even a government school?" said Chiraunji Lal, Dev's paternal uncle.
The RTE Act says that every child in the age group of 6-14 years will be provided eight years of elementary education in an age-appropriate classroom in his/her neighbourhood. It also says that no child will be denied admission for want of documents and completion of the admission cycle in the school.
"We have his birth certificate. The school is close to our house. Where does the problem lie?" Lal said. He has written letters to the education chief secretary, has met the district deputy director of the Directorate of Education and has tried to meet the Director of Education, but to no avail.
Meanwhile, education minister Arvinder Singh Lovely said no child will be turned away from any government school. "If the child is older than five years, he will be admitted in a higher class. Separate classes will be held to ensure he does not lag behind," he said.