Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Postcards from kids converted into PIL

Via TOI 

Speaking of posting letters, this is something we found extremely inspiring. Children take matters into their own hands and write letters to the government to solve their problems!

NEW DELHI: Tired of their complaints falling on deaf ears, nearly 200 children from government and MCD schools in the city have now taken on themselves the task of setting the education system right. The children wrote to the chief justice of Delhi High Court once in May and again on Monday highlighting the abysmal state of their schools and the need to implement right to education. 

Their efforts haven't gone waste. On Wednesday, chief justice Dipak Misra converted the complaints into a PIL and sought a response from Delhi government and MCD, terming it a "serious matter".

The children shared a variety of problems they face in school by sending postcards to the chief justice. About 141 children came together in Jahangirpuri on May 22 and 65 in Dwarka on Monday to participate in the RTE postcard campaign launched by a civil rights group called Social Jurist in collaboration with NGOs. 

From teachers beating them up and forcing them to collect garbage, to toilets remaining locked and clean drinking water being inaccessible, the children had a lot to wrote about. Shahnaaz Khatoon, a class VIII student of Rani Channama Rajkiya Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in Jahangirpuri, wrote, "Madam padai ke samay phone pe baat karti rehti hai (The teacher keeps talking on phone during class)." She all said that water in the tank of her school had not been cleaned for 8-10 days. She added, however, that the playground in the school was good. 

Poonam, a class IV at MCD school in Jahangirpuri, B-Block, wrote, "Our madam is good and she even teaches us. But our principal often beats us and makes us pick garbage. Please take appropriate action." 

Every postcard had a story to tell. While some student wrote that the fans and lights in the classrooms didn't work, others were upset about the lack of tables and chairs. A few even complained that the teachers discouraged them from asking questions and the classes were often conducted on the playground. Many of them even left their phone numbers on the postcard for further clarification. 

These children are hopeful that contacting the higher authorities directly may change their school for the better. Speaking to TOI on Wednesday, Shahnaz said, "The toilet in our school is seldom cleaned. Even the food that we get in school (midday meal) is often too little and does not taste good. We have complained about this to many people several times but nothing happened. Then someone told us that writing to the chief justice could help." 

According to Ashok Agarwal, founder of Social Jurist, more students are likely to come together in the coming days to put across their side of the story. "RTE has already been implemented but nothing has changed in government schools. The infrastructure and the student-teacher ratio continues to be bad. In such situation, we wanted the court to intervene," Agarwal said. 

He added, "We asked children to write their top three problems and also the good things about their school. We told them to write only what they felt and not ask or copy from anyone else. Children from eight to 10 schools have participated in the campaign so far. It should make a difference."


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