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Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao? 60% funds used on publicity, 88% schools don't comply with RTE

Delhi National Capital Region girls speak about their woes 
By Mitra Ranjan*
India is a country which claims to have a culture of respecting women and girls since ages. But reality on the ground is entirely different, rather grim. Presently, girls are fighting for their right to birth and survival. They are deprived of literacy and education. They are forcibly pushed for early marriage and their safety and security have gone for toss.
Speaking on these lines at a media conference, jointly organized by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum Forum, Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL) and Alliance for the Right to Early Childhood Development (ARECD) at the Indian Women’s Press Corps, New Delhi, pointed towards failure of the slogan “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao.
Addressing media on the occasion of 12th National Girl Child Day and the 1st International Day of Education,, Ambarish Rai, National Convener, RTE Forum said, “It’s imperative to know where the girls in India stand today after more than seven decades of being a free country. Situation is very pathetic on the ground. Girls are deprived of all of their fundamental rights, particularly education. We all of us have heard the drumbeating of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ by the government.”
He added, “But it is the government which has failed this programme. The total budget of this programme was Rs 100 crore. And we know the news that approximately 60 per cent of this fund has been wasted on publicity only. Remaining 40 crore is just farce and inadequate to provide education to girls of this country.”
Rai further said, “Children from 6-14 years of age in India have a right to free and quality education. Even after nearly nine years of the implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, millions of girls are still out of school because of absence of female teachers, lack of separate toilets, lack of safety and security within and outside the schools.”
According to him, “Only 12 per cent schools in India are compliant with the RTE Act. On the top of this, under the pretext of rationalization, nearly 2 lakh schools have been closed down. Where do we stand on world’s education map?”
CACL’s Ashok Kumar, who also attached with ARECD, said, “There were 972 women per 1000 men in 1901 and now this figure slipped to 940 women per 1000 men in 2011. Now the question is where are the missing numbers?”
“The global average of female literacy rate is 79.7 per cent whereas in India, this figure is 65.46 per cent. In Kerala, female literacy rate is 92.07 per cent whereas in Bihar it is as low as 51.5 per cent. This kind of disparities and slackness is the real bottleneck for the betterment of girls”, he added.
Speakers pointed out that 27 per cent girls are married before reaching their 18th birthday. More than one third of adolescent girls in India are subjected to varied degree of sexual abuse including rape. “Can we justify our claim to be world’s fastest growing economy?”, they wondered.
Leaders of the three networks demanded complete implementation of the RTE Act, extension of the act to include all children from birth to 18 years of age, strengthening of the public education system and increased investment in girls’ education as the way forward to universalize girls’ access to free, safe and quality education.
Girls from different communities across Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) joined in to point towards huge barriers they faced in accessing quality and equitable education. Those who spoke included Shehnaz from Seemapuri, East Delhi, Lalita from Adarsh Nagar, Sonam and Shabnam from Nirantar, Madhu from Vasant Vihar, Anchal from Okhla along with some School Mangement Committee.
Some of the girls said how their names were cancelled without any information from their schools after a period of their absence. Anchal narrated about the adverse atmosphere in schools for differently abled students. Bhawani from Vasant Vihar added, she was forced to leave school in class 9 to take care of domestic chores.
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*Media and Communication, RTE Forum

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