School chalo, says Adityanath. But will that help education in UP?
Yogi Adityanath wants to get the children in Uttar Pradesh into schools. While that is commendable, the chief minister chose to use a state forest department event to launch his 'School Chalo Abhiyan'.
Under the campaign, the first week of July is being presented as a sort of ‘admission festival’ in government primary schools, with the aim of enrolling as many children as possible. The target, however, is to achieve 100% enrolment.
Experts though have called the initiative ‘superficial’, saying it was unlikely to truly change the dismal education scenario in the state.
UP’s report card
According to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), UP has the highest number of children - 5.3% - out of school. In 2014, this figure was 4.9%.
To attract and encourage children to join school, the government has used the tagline 'Khoob Padho, Khoob Badho' and offered free school bags, shoes and books. These are to be provided by the Uttar Pradesh Basic Education Department.
For the launch, education department officials arranged for 200 pairs of shoes and bags to be distributed to participating children. They also participated in a tree-plantation drive.
Though the government had said it would provide school bags, uniforms, shoes and books to primary school students from 1 July, it should take approximately two months to have it all ready, said an official from the department.
The initiative is superficial, said Magsaysay award-winning social activist Sandeep Pandey.
Pandey, who has been on dharna for five days now, said that much like ‘School Chalo Abhiyan’, former CM Rajnath Singh had launched Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan with much fanfare, but nothing had come of it. The government, he says, needs to be serious about Right to Education Act (RTE).
Adityanath mentioned RTE only in a passing reference.
According to Pandey, the lack of quality teachers at government primary schools is the main problem. Pandey says that the situation is so bad that even Shiksha Mitras, the lowest-ranked officials in the education set-up, do not send their children to government primary schools.
It was in this context that the order of the Allahabad High Court's single-judge Bench asking politicians and bureaucrats to send their children to government schools was important, Pandey added, ruing that the order has been completely ignored by the government.
Pandey, who has been at the forefront of the fight for the implementation of the RTE says that government and bureaucrats are persistent in their defiance of the Act.