Did you know that every child in a BMC-run school is covered by a health insurance scheme? Or the fact that the BMC spends about Rs 25,000 per year per child? Also, that the BMC’s rules stipulate that it has to provide 27 items to every child free including shoes, school bag, tiffin box and even a raincoat.
For probably the first time ever, citizens have now taken to the streets trying to get these points across.
Citizen activists have initiated a campaign across the city encouraging parents in slum areas to admit their children in civic schools.
The drive, which began on Friday, is an initiative by Mumbaiites for Child Rights (M4CR), an organisation powered by independent activists across the city.
Targeting three areas in the city — Chembur, Bandra and Santacruz, Friday saw the activists campaigning in Vakola and other parts of Santacruz (East).
Among other things, an autorickshaw has been specially customised for the drive, carrying messages on child literacy and its importance.
The three-day campaign will be a first in bridging the socio-economic divide that the city’s civic schools have become symbolic of. Said Nitin Wadhwani, one of the activists, “The whole point of this exercise is to draw people out of their houses and tell them how their child could benefit if enrolled in a school. There is a glaring ignorance of all the amenities a child in a BMC school is entitled to.”
The campaign will involve a hint of introspection for the civic body.
Aftab Siddiqui, a Bandra-based activist, said, “The campaign will also involve close interaction with parents whose children have dropped out as there is an urgent need to find out the reasons behind the dropout rate.”
“One of the reasons for parents not encouraging their children is because they think education will be a costly proposition, thanks to the books, bags and other such support elements. Hence, the campaign will tell them that education in civic schools is absolutely free,” Wadhwani added.
Child Rights & You (CRY), an NGO working on children’s issues, will also support the initiative. The drive will go on till June 20.