From Preetam Brahma Choudhury
Kokrajhar: Adolescent girls demand for Right to Education – write postcards to the Prime Minister on the International Day of Education / National Girl Child Day today.
Over 2175 adolescent girls from remote Kokrajhar and Dhubri districts in Lower Assam today wrote Postcards to the Prime Minister seeking extension of Right to Education Act, providing free and compulsory education for all from 3 to 18 years. The girls also demanded mandatory scholarships, secondary schools within 5 km, provision of teachers and adequate infrastructure, safety measures ensuring safety while commuting to the schools and enhanced allocation of budget and human resources from the Prime Minister.
Organised by Kokrajhar-based NGOs- NERSWN and NEDAN Foundation- the programme is a part of a nation-wide postcard signature campaign being organised by the member organisations of the ‘Champions for Girls Education’.
“If education is made free and compulsory up to 12th standard, many of us, who dropout due to not being able to afford private school fees or unavailability of government school nearby beyond 8th standard, will be able to complete our schooling” said Mungli Hasda of remote Bishmuri area in Kokrajhar district who participated in the campaign.
Like Mungli, others too opine that many girls faced several challenges in effort to complete education.
Says Rita Brahma, Project Manager, Girls in School, Securing Education for Girls Affected by Flood and Conflict, “Lack of government run secondary schools in the neighbourhood is one of the key reasons children discontinue schooling at secondary level, especially girls. Most of the secondary schools are located in the district or block headquarters. Access becomes more difficult in remote areas such as those located in forest leaving many girls no option but to discontinue their education.
Echoing her, Dr. Digambar Narzary, Chairperson NEDAN Foundation said Poor quality education, absence of teachers, inadequate infrastructure, absence of functional toilets, safety concerns, regressive social norms, discriminatory parental attitude, socio-economic condition of parents are the major challenges that hinder girls’ education if they make it to secondary school. Once out of school, the girls are pushed into household chores, married off early or are forced to do labour work or be trafficked, he said.
It is to mention that the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE), 2009 makes elementary education a fundamental right for children between 6 to 14 years of age. More than a decade of its implementation has shown that, despite several gaps in its implementation, having the legal mandate to provide primary and upper primary education pushed the states to draft guidelines and take action to implement the law.
‘Besides free and compulsory education for all from 3 to 18 years, we demanded scholarships for all girls so that our education is not stopped due to financial problem, Government should make secondary schools within 5 km radius so that we don’t have to travel long distance to reach school, proper arrangement for safety of girls while traveling to schools so that they get education in a safe environment, said Ruth Basumatary, a class IX student.