The Denial of Right to Education

By Gladson Dungdung

29 Novembre, 2009 

The right to education is a fundamental right of every child in India. However, there are millions of children whose rights are neglected, denied and deprived. According to the Education Survey, only 50 percent children of the age of 6 to 14 have access to education, 35 millions children do not attend schools and 53% of girl children in the age group of 5 to 9 years are illiterate. The India government has enforced the ‘Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act’ on 26 of August 2009 with the prime objective of providing free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years. Ironically, it was enforced only after 62 years of Indian Independence, when the state realized about its failure in fulfilling the promises made in the constitution of India. The fundamental question here is does this legislation have comprehensive provisions to address the issues of denial of the children’s right to education?

According to a pioneer child rights organization the ‘Child Rights and You’ (CRY), the Act does not cover every child. The major argument is, since a person below the age of 18 has been considered as “child” in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, which has been ratified by the Indian government therefore the children of the age of 14 to 18 should be included in the Act. Similarly, the children below the age of 6 are also denied for free and compulsory education in the Act which needs to be reconsidered. The CRY demands for the budget allocation as 10 percent of the GDP for education as the union budget has been reduced from 3.84 percent in 2008-09 to 3.03 percent in 2009-10. It also demands that there should be schools within a distance of 1 kilometer with quality teachers and basic amenities so that all children including girls (neglected in legislation) can be ensured their right to education. However, the question continues is will this legislation address the issues of right to education of the poor children?  

Obviously, one analyst would say “No” because the Indian government is totally failure in the policy implementation (meant for the marginalized people) and also it has always adhered to the principles of double standards. According to the latest development, the government has enforced the legislation for ensuring the children’s right to education on the one hand and the security forces have been occupying more and more government schools (where the children of the marginalized communities pursue their studies) in the name of the national security on the other. For instance, the security forces have occupied 43 schools in Jharkhand and 22 schools in Lalgarh for more than six months, which affected the studies of nearly 25000 children and the security forces are ready to vacate some of these schools only after the intervention of the Jharkhand and Calcutta High Courts on the basis of the PIL.

The question comes into one’s mind is does the state have right to suspend the human rights in the name of the so-called national security? According to the prominent Human Rights Activist Dr. Binayak Sen, “The human rights are beyond sovereignty”. In that case, the state should not be allowed to violate the human rights in the name of sovereignty. But the major problem is, the India middle class does not bother about the rights of the marginalized people, whose rights are violated in every walk of their lives. The former DGP of UP Prakash Singh argues that there should not be ‘the states within state’. The question is how can you deny, suppress or bury  the centuries old concept of Munda Dishum, Santhal Dishum and Ho Dishum (Munda, Santhal and Ho countries) when the existing state regularly neglects, denies and deprives the rights of the children of Munda, Santhal and Ho communities?  

Indeed, the schools, where the children of the marginalized communities are suppose to pursue their studies do not remain like schools but are converted into military camps, which is a deliberate attempt of the state to encourage the Maoist for blowing up the school buildings so that it can comfortably get rid of its constitutional responsibilities. Of course, the Maoists’ acts of blowing up school buildings can not be justified but at the same time, can we accept the government’s justification when it argues that the children’s studies do not get affected by the security forces occupying the school buildings? Do we want our children to engineer their destiny under the shadow of guns?

The fact of the matter is this kind of meaningless argument would go on only because in the either ways, the sufferers are always the children of the Adivasis, Dalits and Marginalized people and not the children of the sunglasses families. When the security forces occupy the school buildings, the education of the marginalized children get affected. Similarly, if the Maoists blow up the school buildings, their studies are stopped and the government secures one blank warrantee card, where is writes that ‘the development activities can not be carried out in the region till the Maoist vacate the vicinity’ and the denial of the children’s rights to education continues.

Therefore, one must ask a question to the Corporate Home Minister P Chidambaram, will he allow his gunmen (the security forces) to occupy the Delhi Public School, Doon School or so-called high standard Minority Schools (the poor minorities can not afford to send their kids to these schools), where the kids of the sunglasses pursue their studies? Though the foundation of India lies on the principles of liberty, equality, dignity, justice and fraternity but we walk with the dual education system, which only facilitates in widening the disparity in the country day by day. According to the American philosopher Allan David, “Education is the movement from darkness to light. If we want the marginalized children’s rights to be ensured, we must (in the ongoing democratic debates) ask a question repeatedly to the Indian government, does a poor child really have the right to education in the so-called largest democratic country?

Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights Activist and Writer from Jharkhand. He can be reached at

5 thoughts on “The Denial of Right to Education”

  1. Dear Mr. Dungdung,
    Very well said. In fact more the illiterate masses, the better it is for the government to rule their minds and hearts. It is shameful that more than sixty years after independence we are not able to provide something as basic as a primary education to our children. As for your comments on children from DPS and Doon School; Gladson these are not “our” children. We are just educating them for the future of US and UK. Their dream and aspirations lie across the seven seas. In fact in AIIMS, I have seen that out of a batch of 50 undergraduates (in MBBS) about 45 students (on an average) leave the country to go to the US. Every Doctor costs the country a good 60 to 80 lakhs to make! Its an irony that these same undergraduates stand against reservation! Cant imagine where we are heading.
    Anyway keep up the good work.
    Shah Alam Khan

  2. expensive schools and high end school get free or cheap land after promising free seats to poor students . they never do …same goes for big fancy hospitals
    plus our rich and middle class dont want THOSE children sittin next to our own
    all these middle class , rich and super ric ( studying in fully air conditioned schools ) finally get out of school chasing the american ( unsustainable , consumer driven , polluting and exploitataive )dream
    i have to deal with govt officers every day and ours are’ the scum of the earth’ they only want money .
    by the way where is madhu kodas money ?
    even my sarpanch is willing to sell me kerosene meant for the PDS and the poor
    what can be done gladstone
    are we doomed. and our courts are not in touch with indian reality.
    from the orange city

  3. Dear Gladson,
    Needless to say, I enjoyed your article on the State’s neglect of primary school education.
    It is disgracefl that “only 50 percent children of the age of 6 to 14 have access to education, 35 millions children do not attend schools and 53% of girl children in the age group of 5 to 9 years are illiterate.”

    The Indian state passes many laws but doesn’t several of them.
    I have heard about CRY because they have branches in UK and other countries. I have donated to them in the past but a couple of years ago I wrote them a stiff letter reminding them that they are the only charity from Asia begging for charity in UK. Even Africans don’t directly beg. I asked CRY – how long will you go begging when when the Indian government won’t play its part? There are many MPs I have heard who are millionaires. How have they become so rich and why so much pvoerty in India after 60 years of independence? I understand that 80% of India’s population live ojn less than Rs 20 a day and have no safe drinking water, 6000 children die each day on the average.

    As you say, the worst suffers are the “children of the Adivasis, Dalits and Marginalized people and not the children of the sunglasses families”.
    Good work,Gladson. My congrats and respect to you.


  4. Thank you for this useful mail. Denial of right to education starts from not providing the rights to education in mother tong especially for the tribal children of India. From the very first day of their joining in the school the tribal children are pushed towards back as children of other communities get prvilage to have their instruction of media in their mother tounges like Bengali, Hindi, Oria and Assamese etc.

    In solidarity


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