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Schoolbag of empty promises - BPL kids at elite cradles suffer state apathy

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 29.06.12
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Prakash Pramanik and his sister Parvati study in an English-medium school in Jamshedpur. But unlike other nursery students of Kerala Public School in Kadma, the children of a casual construction worker do not have any prescribed English, Hindi or math textbooks.

The ambitious plan of the government to send below-poverty-line children to good educational institutions under Right to Education Act, 2009, has punched many loopholes in good intentions. Admission snags such as authentic birth certificates and BPL cards apart, the state’s failure to release funds on time results in empty schoolbags and missing uniforms for students who have make the cut to English-medium cradles on the 25 per cent reservations for the economically weak.

In fact, since classes started in March this year, these children and their parents have bearing the brunt of the state’s apathy.

“We are very poor. I barely manage to earn Rs 120 a day. All I could manage with my earnings was to buy my children two notebooks. When we barely survive, where will I find money to buy books?” asked B.K. Pramanik, Prakash and Parvati’s helpless father.

To add insult to injury, schools have washed hands off the issue by claiming that their responsibilities are limited to providing free education.

“Right now, these students are being taught lessons orally. The government has only asked us to provide free education to poor kids and we are doing just that,” said Sharat Chandran, director of Kerala Public School, Kadma.

On the positive side, many private schools have taken the onus on themselves to provide books to poor students. They have issued free coupons that can be redeemed for books or uniforms at chosen shops. These schools expect the state to reimburse them as and when it releases funds.

Some other cradles in the city are less tolerant. Stories are doing the rounds of how 44 poor students of an elite cradle were forced by the management to procure books at the start of nursery.

“They came up with all relevant documents and we had to admit them. They are dropped at the school gates on two-wheelers. How can they not afford to buy books or uniforms,” a principal sarcastically said, going on to claim that parents not expressed their inability to buy books.

Members of guardians’ watchdog outfit Jamshedpur Abhibhavak Sangh recently shot off a letter to chief minister Arjun Munda to apprise him of the situation, mentioning cradles such as Kerala Public School, Kadma, and Jusco Schools in South Park and Kadma.

“Many students have not been able to buy uniforms and books. There seems to be some sort of confusion between the management of the schools and the government. But poor students are bearing the brunt,” said its president Umesh Kumar.