Slum Children’s Education Bulldozed by City

Mumbai slum demolition puts children’s education in jeopardy.

About the Video: A few months ago, the Bombay Municipal Corporation bulldozed an extension of Mumbai’s Sathe Nagar Slums of which Community Correspondent Amol Lalzare is a long time resident. The slums were built on what was a previously empty plot adjoining Sathe Nagar which started as a squat for migrant families, rag-pickers and scrap workers. It gradually became home for over 1000 families.

For Amol, it was a same story repeating itself. As usual, the corporation did not issue a notice before turning up with bulldozers. Thousands of people left homeless, picking up the pieces of their life from the dust. There was chaos and tears and despair everywhere amongst which Amol saw some young children who were using the debris as a playground. They had not gone to school that day. “And who knows if they ever will again?” was the question that provoked Amol.

Amol decided that his video would tell the story of the children of the slum. The slum children are a mostly ignored group, but one that suffers the most duress under the larger and more immediate issues facing the slums.

“If children are more vulnerable, it is only because of they have lot more to lose,” says Amol who has experienced what biting poverty can do to one’s education. He lost over 4 years of study because he was forced to do odd jobs as an auto-rickshaw driver and a cable guy to make ends meet.

“What price can you put on the future of a child?” he asks, “There are thousands of children in my slum who have dropped out and will never ever go to school again. We don’t mind studying underneath street lamps. We ignore the lack of space, the noise, the stench. We try to overcome the poor education being given out in government schools. But if a bulldozer runs through our home destroying every bit of our meager possessions, if we do not have a home to live in, how are we going to educate ourselves?”

Amol Lalzare is one of IndiaUnheard’s most prolific Community Correspondents. Last month, he filed in 7 reports each on a different issue, each set within his community, across a few square miles of the metropolis of Mumbai. In an overpopulated country on the fast track to being urbanized, Amol belongs to a growing and increasingly vulnerable and oppressed community.

“How can I ever run out of stories? Our issues are only increasing with time,’ says Amol. “The city hates its slums. People think that slums are a menace, the breeding ground for crime, drugs… basically, they think everything wrong with the city has its origins in the slums.”

“But do you think the people who stay in the slums enjoy living there? Don’t they want a comfortable flat and a car? Don’t they want a better future? Bulldozing is not the solution against slums. But education is one of the solutions. Education would give the children a chance at a better life.”

“But that fundamental thing is what that the government fails to understand. In fact, I don’t think they would ever understand.”

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