Stop talking about ‘our children’ and ‘their Children’
Farida Lambay is the co-founder and trustee of Pratham, a non-profit group, which works towards educating underprivileged children.mumbai Updated: May 17, 2012 01:29 IST
What are the roadblocks in implementing the 25% clause in the Right To Education Act?
It has come late for this academic year as many schools have finished their admissions. There is too much ado about the assimilation of the poorer children. We will need to talk to children and parents and ensure there is no discrimination. Many schools are already admitting poorer children and there is no problem.
Parents of well-off children have fears about what will happen now, whereas parents of those eligible under the quota possibly don’t even know of the Act. What do you think?
Schools will need to talk to parents about this. Their fears are unfounded. As for those who do not know of the act, it is up to the government and other organisations to ensure that the information is disseminated.
What about the concerns about learning levels of the 25% quota children and the fact that they may not be able to keep up? Many may not have gone to pre-schools. In our experience, many poor children are also going to pre-schools. The poor have many aspirations. Parents may not be educated, but schools can have support classes.
What is the gravest misunderstanding surrounding the clause?
That we cannot have equity. And that some children are meant to be in government schools and others in private schools. There will be practical problems, but we should stop talking about 'our children' and 'their children'.
One criticism has been that the government is dumping its responsibility on to the private sector through this clause. Government schools have to improve; you cannot close them down. The Act does, however, talk about equity, and this is where the 25% comes in.
What will happen to the children when the government stops paying their fees after Class 8?
Schools will have to make provisions and these children’s parents will also have to pay. There has to be a shift in the mindset of administrators and legislation will help do that. Various government schemes, scholarships and freeships are also available.