Life of children in Fauji Mohalla, a slum in the middle of city, is vastly different to what it is supposed to be. Around 70 shanties house at least 90 families, with each family on an average having 2-3 children. A shocking statistic - around 10 children - attend school from this area. The rest are either working as rag pickers or are seen playing.
Even as the much touted legislation Right to Education (RTE) Act, mandating free and compulsory education for all till 14 years of age, is armed to give them the most vital tool, putting them in school remains a distant dream here.
“A big section of children never go to schools. When parents go to work, children remain in the huts and spend their time playing. Although they may have the ability to learn and grasp, they are wasting lives in here”, said Shammi Devi, resident of fauji mohalla.
Lack of resources and no help from the government compounds the problem.
“When school bus crosses before our slum, both my children express desire to go to school. I am too willing to put my children into school, but I cannot afford their study expenses. Government school is far away from here and they will have to cross railway line” Fauji, a cobbler, said.
Nanak Ram, one of the lucky one from the area said, said, “All my three children are getting education. But hardly ten children go to school from this slum area”.
Gurjot Singh, district education officer (primary), said, “In a survey held in December last year we found 2,431 children in different places who are not going to school. We will try to put these children into government schools for study from April”.
The survey covers many aspects including migrated labor, dropout and children with lack of interest in study. But around 180 slums have been indentified in Ludhiana city and the number of such children may increase.
Satish Thaman, member of the district grievance redressal committee, said, “There are huge poor population surrounding the city and thousands children are not going to schools. The education department shall open small schools in every slum and also provide medical facilities to these children”.
“The district education officer should organise meetings in such areas and raise awareness among parents about the importance of education. I will raise the issue of these children’s study in the meeting of the committee on January 28”, he added.