Long Walk To School

In rural Tamil Nadu, children walk six kilometers to get to school.

According to the Human Resources Development  Ministry statistics of 2003, Tamil Nadu is the most literate state in India. In 2011, its literacy rate shot up from a mere 54.4% (1981) to over 80%. However, even with all this progress in education and literacy, there are still places where young children have to walk a long way to attend school.

The children of Thondaimanppatti village in Trichi district walk twelve kilometers every day just so they can get a decent education. The school in their village has been lying abandoned for the past 20 years. Government officials claim that they have not found suitable teachers for the school, and so it has been left unused. Left with no choice, 40 primary school children walk their way to the next school which is a whole six kilometers away from their village.

As our Community Correspondent Margaret Joeji reports, there is a law in Tamil Nadu that states that primary schools must be located not more than 2 kilometers away from villages. However, it seems that the government, who has been hearing complaints and pleas from the villagers of Thondaimatti for decades now, has forgotten to apply their law here.

Thondaimanppatti is a village that is centrally located within the district. It has an efficient public transport system and is well connected to other parts of the state. It is a small village where the main occupation of the people is daily wage agricultural labour. Families have low incomes and many parents cannot afford to send their students to school by bus. They are left with no choice but to make their children walk. Most of the students who drop out of school every year are girls; their parents feel it is unsafe for them to walk such long distances.

Three years ago, Margaret used to work in Thondaimanppatti. Every day, she would see children walk to school. After joining Video Volunteers, she decided she must video this. “Although education is important,” says Margaret, “the price to pay for it should not be basic human rights. I have never  had to walk to school and these young children have to walk 12 kilometres every day. It is a violation of their rights. The government must do something as soon as possible to fix this.”

–          By Rajyashri Goody

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