In 2009 India amended its constitution to establish the Right to Education Act. The objective of the act was to enforce state governments and local bodies to ensure that children have access to an education. This act for a fundamental right was, of course, no magic wand in removing decades of institution failures of lack of access and facilities and ground realities continue to be disheartening to say the least. Although the hope that every child can have access to education cannot be dismissed, it indeed must not be, when children themselves rise to the occasion and demand for this right.
A recent article highlighted the story of a girls-school in the small district of Bhim, Rajasthan. The school, if one can call it that, with over 700 students has been active with 3 teachers and without a principal and basic amenities such as toilets since several years. Instead of giving up hope these girls decided to fight for their rights taking a leaf from Gandhi’s tried and tested methods!
Taking it to the streets
After several failed attempts with the school and district authorities, the girls decided to take to the streets (with the help of a local organization) and demanded for their right–their education. Closing the gates of the school all 700 students marched, shouted slogans, and demanded for more teachers. Some highlighted their financial burdens, parents spending half their daily income to simply send the child to school; Many also spoke of their aspirations on how education will allow them to have better life, a life not spent being daily labourers, being poor, hungry, and not making ends meet.
Following through on their demands, the schools authorities have hired more teachers although the school still does not seem to have enough facilities which can ensure a bright future for these fighters. Not a perfect ending but a happy one nevertheless.
Stories like this give us hope to look beyond the bureaucracies, red tape, and inefficiencies towards the resolve of people, their will to fight, and the courage of hope. The reality does remain that this story of failed institutions is one of many. Not all have positive outcomes as well. But institutions aside, it is the people who need our attention and support, especially fighters like these.
A brighter future
We can also play a small part in these stories through our involvement with alternate local organizations. Across the country there are several local organizations committed to provided facilities and opportunities to the rural Indians apprising for better lives. Organizations like Varthana (based in Karnataka) gave Mrs. Roberts, founder of the Edith Douglas High School, a lending hand when she fought to give her children better resources and a better education. A visionary like Mrs. Roberts, who when could not find any school that would take her 60 orphans, decided to start her own school to ensure these children get their basic right. With assistance from Varthana, Mrs. Roberts was able to expand her school by adding more benches, a library, and a computer lab.
Similarly, the Belghoria Janakalyan Samity (BJS) is working in West Bengal to provide education loans to children providing them a shot at their dreams. By providing loans directly to the beneficiaries, we can bridge a few gaps between aspirants and opportunities. Girls like these, and others who are in the pursuit of their better lives need our support. A lending hand can and will go a long way in paving our country’s future.
[stag_button url="http://m-lp.co/1GS5bYk" style="red" size="large" type="stroke" target="_blank" icon="" icon_order="before"]Lend a Hand, Send a Child to School[/stag_button]
 Radhika Ganesh, “Fight the Good Fight”, The Hindu, October 24, 2014,
http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/features/blink/know/fight-the-good-fight/article6530013.ece, accessed October 31, 2014.