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

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

Poser to Modi: Why is Gujarat not fulfilling Constitutional obligations to minorities?

Counterview Desk
In an open letter, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), a Gujarat-based civil rights organization, has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi on infringing upon MCC activists’ constitutional right to protest. Nafees says, they had no other demands except that the Gujarat government should move towards fulfilling the constitutional obligations towards minorities and international treaties to which India is a signatory.

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.