Government schools in Chennai slums are being closed down by the state.
In today’s video, Community Correspondent Mani Manickem presents to us the terrible state of government schooling in Chennai, despite the implementation of the Right to Education Act.
“The Chennai government should be focusing on improving the quality of their schools, but instead they recently shut down six schools in slums…”
Schools across slums in Chennai are being closed down for official reasons such as lack of enrolment of students. Students and their parents, however, believe there is another side to the story. They complain that teachers are not competent enough to teach children, and that they are the ones who are lazy and irregular, not the children. Bribery on large and small scales (such as snacks and tea) is rampant in these institutions simply because students come from downtrodden and voiceless communities, and the corrupt teachers to take advantage of the situation. Yet, instead of trying to solve these issues in a productive manner, the Tamil Nadu government is simply shutting down state schools, leading to an increase in the number of school dropouts in slums.
“… If Government schools are not available to children, then the basic right to free education will not be there.”
In April, 2010, the Central Government of India implemented an Act that would enable the provision of free and compulsory education to all children within the age group of six and fourteen years. The Right to Education Act is hoped to benefit over one crore children and provide them with ten years of uninterrupted education.
Provisions under the Act include a survey of communities and neighbourhoods to identify children in need of schooling. No child may be expelled or made to pass a board examination before he or she completes ten years of studies. Private educational institutions are also made to reserve 25% of their seats for children from disadvantaged communities, and existing government schools are stipulated to maintain and improve infrastructural, teaching and learning facilities.
Mani Manickem’s video proves that the Right to Education Act has not been implemented successfully in Chennai, and in fact the government is directly creating barriers for poor children to have access to a basic education.
“I understand the significance of education, for it has helped me become who I am today.” says Mani. “By shutting down schools instead of improving them, the government is doing a grave injustice to children of underprivileged communities. Private institutions are far too expensive for their parents to afford, and now they don’t even have a government school. How are these kids supposed to learn anything at this rate? I fear that the Right to Education Act will only remain an Act on paper.”