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No respite from child labour as 2 lakh schools close down: National consultation on RTE told

By Our Representative
A civil society consultation organized by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Campaign against Child Labour, and the Alliance for Right to Early Childhood Development in Delhi has been told that the Government of India is “not serious about” about RTE and there has been only 4% increase in RTE compliance since 2014, when BJP came to power.
Ambarish Rai, national convener, RTE Forum, said, “At this rate it will take nearly 90 years to fully implement the RTE Act”, insisting, it is the government’s responsibility to open schools to make education accessible, but over the last five years, the BJP government
“has closed down nearly 2 lakh schools”, which suggests that it is aiming to “hand over education to private players.”
Alka Singh from Save the Children, who presented a consolidated report card of education that details what has happened over the last five years, said that from amongst 5-14 years of children there are almost 1 crore child labourers. She added, there are 80,000 street children in Delhi out of which 31,000 children are between 6-14 years of age.
Others who spoke at the consultation included Amitabh Behar from Oxfam, Devika Singh from Alliance for the Right to Early Childhood Development, Ms. Radhika Alkazi from ArthAastha, Ms. Sumitra Mishra from Alliance for Right to Early Childhood Development, Jeetendra Ji from APR, Thaneshwar Adigaur from Delhi Forces and Surrendra Singh from Matri Sudha.
Some of the major demands put forward at the consultation included extending the purview of RTE Act from birth to 18 years, complete implementation of the RTE Act along with norms and standards in true letter and spirit making state accountable, reversal of declining expenditure on education as a share of GDP and bringing it to at least 6 percent of GDP, total eradication of child labour up to the age of 18 years, and stopping of privatization and commercialization of education.

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