Skip to main content

Right to Education? Govt closes down Rann Shala schools in Gujarat's Santalpur area because of "lack of funds"

By Pankti Jog*
This week the Gujarat government may claim to be celebrating the quality education monitoring programme called Gunotsav across the state. However, ironically, this has coincided with government-sponsored schools, called Rann Shalas, of Santalpur area in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK), being shut down. Reason: They don't have any sanction for running the schools. 
The Rann Shala programme was started under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) for the children of traditional salt farmers of LRK. Under the programme, children would be taught in tent schools at workplace. For past many years more than 300 children in the Santalpur area of LRK in Patan district continued their education post-September, once their parents migrated to LRK for farming salt. However, SSA faced a major hurdle: It wasn't not given adequate budget to run these schools, thus leaving children deprived of midday meal and full time teacher.
The Agariya Heet Rakshak Manch (AHRM), Gujarat's well-known NGO which works among saltpan workers, supported by State Bank of India (SBI), allotted tents this year, realising the fund constraint of SSA, a Central government programme, for having safe tents.
However, the government surprisingly did not sanction any funds to the Rann Shalas. Even earlier, the  sanction would be given for two months, which would be extended following repeated complaints.

“Our schools have been closed down for the last one-and-a-half months. The only reason is that children were denied midday meal or even snacks this year. This resulted into heavy dropout of children. We closed it down after February 15", said a community teacher, identified as baldost, or friend of children, in the Santalppur Rann.
When inquired with Cluster and Block Resource Co-ordinators (CRCs and BRCs), they seemed to be least concerned about what is happening with the Rann Shalas. “We have our visit report complete. As we did not have permission to run tent schools after March 31, we closed them down. Children should come to their native villages on their own if they want to give examinations”, an official replied casually.
"When the salt season is not yet over, how could they close down the school by giving administrative reasons? This is the most insensitive act of the government. With no teacher, no midday meal, and now no school, we would like to invite the Gunotsav team to visit the Rann in Santalpur and access children's learning quality/ability", said an AHRM representative, adding, "AHRM has been persuading this issue since long, but the government every time comes up with some adhoc planning and budget..."
Under the SSA programme, according to AHRM activists, officials shed their responsibility by saying that the state neither gives them permission for full term from September to April, nor does it give sufficient budget to have midday meal or even breakfast, water facility, sports kits etc.
The basic question being posed is: Who is responsible for giving full time school to the Rann's children as required by the Right to Education (RTE)?
"This is a violation of the fundamental right of children, and also violation of the Supreme Court order, leading to contempt of the apex court, wherein the Gujarat government had assured that it would provide education to the children in the desert,” says Harinesh Pandya, an AHRM trustee.
“We need to have comprehensive planning for education in the Rann. Rann Shalas need to be considered as extension of village schools. Teachers need to be allocated from peripheral villages, and midday meal needs to be arranged for these schools, as per RTE, and thr National Food Security Act", he said.
"While Surendrangar and Morbi district programme education officers (DPEOs) can run desert schools till examinations, how could thr Patan DPEO cloose it down just ahead of examinations, leaving children deprived of their right to education?", he added.
Agariyas or saltpan workers are known to be migrating to LRK even before Independence. The book “Salt of the Earth” by Kapilram Vakil, as also several other documents, show that there were desert schools before Independence. Yet, 71 years later, the government of the day has shown its incapability of running fulltime desert schools.
Meanwhile, complaints have been lodged with BRC, CRC and DEPO, with the hope that the government hears Agariyas' voice amidst celebration of “Gunotsav”.
---
*With Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel, Ahmedabad

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Liberating Bengal Hindus? Worst flames of communal division, lessons from the past

By Shamsul Islam*  The whole thrust of the RSS-BJP election campaign for 2021 state assembly elections in West Bengal has been to save Bengal from the rule of Mamata Bannerjee who is allegedly not a ‘Hindu’. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist, as usual set the polarizing agenda. While addressing the first election rally, he called upon the electorate to overthrow the ‘nirmam’ (cruel) rule of Mamata by showing a ‘Ram Card’. He did not name Hindus directly but there was no confusion about the religious identity of the electorate Indian PM was addressing to.

Pradeep Bhattacharya, who spent his life for the cause of working masses, rational thinking

By YS Gill*  At 11:30 pm on May 3, 2021, I lost my best friend and comrade Pradeep Bhattacharya. He spent his life dedicated to the cause of the working masses and rational thinking. A person of thorough scientific outlook and a well-read student of Marxian thought, he was a walking encyclopedia and could speak on a wide variety of topics from art and culture to science, philosophy, history and politics.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Rs 5 crore 'demand' for India Today anchor: What about 52 lesser souls who died in April?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  A well known Hindutva protagonist masquerading as journalist passed away recently resulting in messages of condolences and tribute right from the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to progressive liberals expressing grief of his untimely death. It is said that he passed away due to cardiac arrest, though the fact is, he was also Covid infected. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister termed him a ‘brave’ journalist, insisting, his passing away has left a big ‘vacuum’.

Modi's Hindutva 'ensuring' empowerment of rich, disenfranchisement of poor

Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The Hindutva socio-psychopaths are neither nationalists nor patriotic people. These medieval reactionary forces don’t understand the idea of citizenship, justice, liberty, equality and humanism. Indian democracy is merely an electoral transaction for the Hindutva forces. Hindutva forces neither follow science nor understand the sufferings of fellow human beings. These core qualities are common among the Hindutva forces in India.

Despite crisis, Modi's Hindutva strategy 'increased' mass base in society and polity

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Narendra Modi and his RSS brethren can qualify as masters of fake claims. There is a long lists of lies spread by RSS, BJP and their IT cell workers. It is not a personality disorder or lying with fear. They are trained to defend Modi and his government’s decisions in whatever possible way. They defended demonetisation by arguing that it is “an important step” in his fight against black money and corruption.

India's Covid-19 'nightmare': A product of majoritarian Hindutva ideological praxis?

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Indians struggle to find place and time to bury their dead due to the devastating effects of the second wave of Covid-19 in India. The crematoriums in the capital cities are overflowing with dead bodies. People are dying without oxygen and basic medical support. The cities like Delhi and Mumbai are struggling to cope with the rising number of infections and COVID-19 led deaths. The deaths and destitutions are products of a defunct BJP government led by Narendra Modi.

Indian media persons collapsing to Covid disease as fast as 3 per day, third highest

Yogesh Sharma, Shailesh Rawal  By Our Representative  The Switzerland based media rights and safety body, Press Emblem Campaign ( PEC ) has said that it is “alarming for Indian journalists”, who have lost at least 107 colleagues to Covid-19”, noting, Indian “journo-colleagues” have been collapsing to the Covid-19 complications now as fast as three scribes per day. In a statement, PEC said, “India with 107 media corona-casualties has already placed itself on the third position just below Brazil (181 dead) and Peru (140) in the list of Covid-19 victims among journalist.”

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.