The Right to Education Act in India deems education the fundamental right of every child and lists mandatory facilities for learning centres. But in a village in Madhya Pradesh, local government continues to infringe on the right to education, by failing to complete the basic structure of its only primary school.
In the absence of a proper school building, 60 primary school students attend classes under a makeshift tin roof. In the summer sun the roof traps heat; in the monsoon, the ground beneath them turns to slush.
The 'school' in Chhayan village was officially set up in 2013 but till date the funds to construct a building haven't come through. For the past five years, the parents of these children have been managing to secure places in people's homes to run classes. This, however, is getting more difficult with each passing year.
"I don't understand...When we go to the Village Council, they tell us to go to the Collector. When we do that, the Collector sends us back to the Village Council," says Kallu Baiga, the President of the parent teachers association. The community has so far been unable to get any satisfactory response from government officials.
According to the 2016 Annual Status of Education Report, Madhya Pradesh fares poorly on children's reading and arithmetic skills. Less than 30% children in the 3rd grade can read text meant for children in the 1st grade. Less than 10% in the 3rd standard can do basic subtraction.
The set up in Chhayan violates many provisions of the Right to Education Act 2009, which states that every school must have a building, toilets for girls and boys, a library, play area, and a boundary wall among other facilities.
However, it is a testimony to the willpower of parents who have big dreams for their children. One parent explains that the children cannot be sent to another school because they are barely six or seven years old.
You can help the children in Chhayan village get access to a proper education. Call the District Magistrate and Collector, Mr Mal Singh on +91 7653 222 600 or +91 9685 772 666 and ask him to make sure that a proper school is built in Chhayan.
Video by Madhya Pradesh Community Correspondent Ramal Baiga
Article by Kayonaaz Kalyanwala, a member of the VV editorial team
In the 8th episode, we will see how gas connections were provided to more than 100 BPL families with the support from our community correspondents.