The Right to Education Act 2009 which has been introduced in our country with the declared objective of providing free and compulsory education to each and every child till the age of 14 has not been implemented in the state of Arunachal Pradesh in letter and spirit. Most of the government schools in our state charge an annual fee ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 1200 depending on which class the child belongs to. As we all know that the government schools in the state mostly caters to the educational requirements of the poor and the marginalised sections of the society, so one wonders why in the first place an annual fee is charged? If the constitutional obligation of providing compulsory and easy access to education for each and every child has to be translated into reality then the first step ought to be, is to do away with this annual fee. The State Government needs to take cognizance of the prevailing mess and take corrective steps in this regard.
Despite the Prime Minister’s consistent emphasis on providing separate toilet facilities for boys and girls in each and every school of the country, in Arunachal Pradesh there are schools that do not have basic toilet facilities for any child not to speak of separate facilities for girls and boys. The fact that functional toilets are lacking even in schools located in the State capital complex, is a clear indication of what the plight of schools would be in the rural areas. Even drinking water facilities is not available to children in schools. The school at RGU Campus has no drinking water facilities. A child is expected to survive without drinking water for the entire duration of his stay in school which is close to eight hours a day. Further, instead of free books that every child is entitled to, children are being forced to buy books from the market. Clearly the teachers lack both commitment and empathy towards the children whom they are supposed to teach and take care of. Sadly, all we care about is the money they make out of the pretence of being teachers. Political appointments and nepotism is the order of the day and in the process young lives are being sacrificed at the altar of neglect and human greed.
The Chief Minister needs to take note of this scary reality. What kind of future are we aiming at? A society that fails its Children has much to answer for. Just because children are not voters, do they deserve a sub-human treatment? What kind of ‘New India’ are we creating? These are tough questions that we collectively need to answer. The Fundamental Rights of the Child has to be protected at all costs.