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Need for a manifesto for 'non-voters', who aren't discussed either by politicians or people

By Sheshu Babu*
A child miseducated is a child lost -- John F Kennedy
While all the mainstream parties are busy issuing statements of promises to various sections of society, there is little concern for the children who are clearly outside the electoral process. These 'non-voters' are being neglected and the potential of 'future' voters is not being discussed either by the politicians or people adequately.
According to the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16), fourth in the series, 19.8 million children below the age of six are undernourished, and 58% of children 6 months to five years were found to be anemic in the country. Total immunization stood at 62%. India is home to 30% of almost 385 million living in extreme poverty, the largest in South Asia, according to a world Bank group and UNICEF report "Ending Extreme Poverty: A Focus on Children".
The Annual Survey of Education (ASER), released on January 15, 2019, in the country, 43.3% of primary schools had less than 60 students, 32.8% did not have play grounds, 83.5% schools did not have special physical training teachers, in 25.2% schools, there was no drinking water facility. 
A detailed analysis of the report reflects glaring insufficiencies in primary school education system. Though nearly 96 percent children enter primary schools, just 40% attend secondary schools (grade 9-12) . Thus, many drop out.
Most children do not get standard education, and even though they pass out, their learning and knowledge capacity remains low. Many high school students find difficulty reading primary text books, basic mathematics and general awareness. This is due to lack of trained teachers, low awareness among rural parents, improper curriculum and promoting methods and lack of infrastructure facilities for teaching. Many schools in rural areas run with a single teacher and many classes are clubbed together for want of space. Poverty and helplessness drives children to drop out and work as child labourers.
Since the state of child education is pathetic, educators, activists and people in general should demand political parties to include in their manifesto, measures for imparting the children standard education and adherence to compulsory education as prescribed in the constitution. The allocation for education should be steeply increased.
Huge vacancies of teachers should be filled up urgently. The parents who are voters must exert pressure on the parties to spell out precise steps in giving top priority to primary and secondary education.
So far, there has been little talk of reforming the education system. The present ruling party has not only taken a backward step in the field of education by cutting allocations, but also tried change the syllabus and mould it in its own ideological way.
Child education has not progressed in the last four years. Unless the importance of primary education is not realized, the standard of students may not match international standards.
This is the time to press for a comprehensive new education policy and commitment from the politicians to seriously address the core issue of education in an objective way for a better future.
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*Writer from anywhere and every where supports right to education and health for children

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