A Civil Rights Group
Hon’ble Shri A.K.Sikri
Acting Chief Justice
Delhi High Court,
December 24, 2011
SUBJECT: Innocent school children in Delhi belonging to the economically weaker sections of the society continue to suffer everyday due to lack of basic facilities like desks, water, electricity, clean toilets, teachers in their schools due to the indifference and negligence on the part of the Government of NCT of Delhi and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi in implementing the Right of children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009
We had earlier written to you a letter dated 27.05.2010 enclosing therewith as many as 150 postcards having been written on 22.05.2010 by the students from various Government and MCD schools in Jahangirpuri Resettlement Colony and addressed to you highlighting good and bad characteristics of their schools and seeking your intervention for realization of their rights to education. We are happy to say that the Hon’ble High Court was pleased to convert the said letter into a PIL registered as W.P. (C) 4535/2010 entitled Court on its Own Motion vs. Government of NCT of Delhi and MCD and notices were issued to Govt. of NCT of Delhi and MCD. The Hon’ble High Court has been passing orders and directions from time to time in the said PIL and now the date of hearing is fixed for 29.02.2012. It is respectfully submitted that in continuation of the aforesaid letter dated 27.05.2010, we had written another letter dated 12.07.2010 enclosing therewith as many as 65 postcards having been written on 04.07.2010 by the students from Government and MCD schools of Dwarka area and addressed to you highlighting good and bad characteristics of their schools and seeking your intervention for the realization of their rights to education. It is respectfully submitted that the said letter was taken on the record of the above said PIL.
It is respectfully submitted that the above said PIL was not the only case where the Hon’ble High Court has intervened and passed directions to the Government of NCT of Delhi and the MCD. In 1997, the first PIL highlighting the lack of basic amenities in Government and MCD was filed by All India Lawyers Union (Delhi Unit) which was followed by several PILs filed by Social Jurist, A Civil Rights Group during the last 14 years highlighting one or the other violation of right to education of the students studying in Government and MCD schools. The Hon’ble Judges must have passed hundreds of orders and directions during the pendency of these PILs with a view to improve the conditions in Government and MCD schools where more than 25 lacs students belonging to weaker sections of the society have been studying.
Undoubtedly, the interventions by the Hon’ble High Court have certainly brought an improvement in the public funded schools in Delhi. However, we are still too far from realizing a good quality education in these schools. Generally, in the morning shifts, girls students are studying whereas in the after noon shifts, boy students are studying. The education imparted to the girl students in the morning shifts is comparatively much better than that imparted to the boy students in the after noon shifts. The standard of education in government schools is little better than that of the MCD schools. However, on the whole, the situation is somewhat alarming because despite so much public spending on education, the out put in terms of learning is very dismal.
We would like to bring to your urgent notice the sad fact that despite the insertion of Article 21-A in the Constitution of India in 2002 and passage of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act, 2009) which have come into effect from 1 April 2010, lacs of innocent school children in Delhi -- mostly belonging to the economically weaker sections of the society who fight all odds to attend school -- continue to suffer innumerable hardships at their schools every single day due to lack of basic facilities like desks, drinking water, electricity, toilets, benches and teachers. This is because of gross negligence on the part of the Government of NCT of Delhi and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi in not making any serious efforts to implement the RTE Act, 2009.
It is submitted that besides the lack of infrastructure, in many such schools teachers are not available, the teachers are either not reaching on time and or are not taking the classes at all due to the lack of monitoring and fixing any kind of accountability on the teachers by the authorities concerned. Cases of teachers brutally beating up innocent children has also come to light. Furthermore, the complaints of these hapless school children to their headmasters/principals regarding their problems mostly go unheeded.
The above facts have come to light during the ongoing postcard campaign by the Social Jurist, a civil rights group, in which students and parents at different locations were asked to write postcards highlighting the problems in their schools. As many as 77 postcards which were written by the students of Government as well as of MCD schools on 07.11.2011 at Holambi Kalan Metro Vihar Resettlement Colony, Narela, Delhi are attached hereto for your kind perusal and consideration.
It is submitted that the cases of the students surveyed are telling testimony to not only of the lack of basic physical and academic infrastructure in schools but also of the absence of academics resulted in very poor quality of education in these schools. (1) Rohit, a Class XI student of Rajkiya Co-ed Government School writes, “The school deletes students’ names from the rolls without any reason. We are often thrashed by teachers. What’s worse is that all the windows panes are broken, making it very difficult for us during winter.” (2) Gajraj, a Class XI of Rajkiya Co-ed School, Phase II, Holambi Kalan writes, "For last four years, no computer classes have been conducted in our school. Moreover, instead of teaching us, our Hindi teacher attends phone calls during class hours”. (3) Bulbul, a Class V student of an MCD school in the area, writes: "Our teacher beats us a lot." (4) Rina, Class IX student of Government Secondary School, Holambi and (5) Gaffar, Class VI student say how in the absence of cleaning staff students they are made to do the work and how due to dirty toilets the students skips school. (6) Class X student of Rajkiya Senior Secondary School, Holambi, Phase II, Deepak Kumar and (7) Class X student Rahul Singh and (8) Class VIII student Preeti Kumari's postcards highlight the lack of basic amenities like benches in their schools. (9) Gulfam, Class VI student of Govt Co-ed Secondary School, C Block, Phase II, Holambi writes, “My class teacher does not teach at all and all the time, she listens songs.” (10) Jyoti, Class IX student of Govt Co-ed Sr. Secondary School writes, “Girl students are not given sports opportunity whereas such opportunity is given to boy students. Can girls not rise in life?” (10) Poonam, Class X student of Govt Co-ed Secondary School, C Block, Holambi writes, “My English teacher never explain any thing to the students.” (11) Rinki, Class V student of MCD school writes, “Our Sirji does not behave well with us. When ever we ask any question, he starts scolding us and he is always busy on Cell Phone.” (12) Manoj Kumar, Class X student of Govt Co-ed Secondary School, C Block, Phase II, Holambi Kalan writes, “ Teachers of our school are always busy gossiping with each other and don’t teach us at all.” (13) Vishal, Class XI student of Govt Co-ed Senior Secondary School, Delhi-82 writes, “We don’t have benches to sit in the classrooms.” (14) Priya, Class X student of Government Secondary School writes, “Benches in classroom are not made available to girl students and moreover, there is shortage of teachers.” (15) Jyoti, Class X student of Government Secondary School writes, “There are no desks in the classroom. The facilities like Library and Science Lab are not available in the school.” (16) Annu Kumar, Class XI student of Government Co-ed Secondary School, writes, “Potable water is not available in our school.” (17) Hari Shanker, Class XI of Government Co-ed Secondary School writes,” Our Hindi teacher does not teach us and instead keep him all the time busy on Cell Phone. There is no facility of Computer in the school” and (18) Usha, Class X student of Government Secondary School writes, “Our teachers (Sir & Madam) use abusive language to us and we feel offended. Even our parents have never used such language to us.”
The following problems were highlighted in the postcards:
1. Teacher is not there for teaching.
2. Lack of good behavior towards students.
3. Teachers give them work like to cleaning the classroom, benches, ground etc.
4. Teachers beat the students without any reason.
5. School doesn’t give chance to girl’s to play the games in the school.
6. There is no potable water in the school campus.
7. There is no tap or water supply in the school properly.
8. In some schools, there are no benches for students to sit and do studies well.
9. In the absence of the principal, teachers take them (student) away from the class and give them work to clean the school campus.
10 .Whenever students ask any question, the teachers beat them without any reason.
11 .Lack of education and studies in the school.
12 .Toilets are in bad condition.
13 .Teachers give homework to students without making them understand the topic.
14 .Facilities of computer class and science lab are lacking.
15 .There is no play ground in some schools.
16 .Teachers don’t come to school on time.
17 . Overcrowded classrooms.
The misconduct and negligence on the part of Delhi government and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi is in violation of the Constitutional and the statutory rights of the children to free and compulsory quality elementary education as envisaged in Article 21 (right to life with dignity) and Article 21-A (right to education) of the Constitution of India and in Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. We would also like to mention that though the historic Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 ensures that children between 6-14 years have access to free and quality elementary education, legislating laws is only half the work done. The government has made a promise to millions of children and it is necessary to ensure that the concerned authorities constantly assess the factors that go into preventing the children from attending school. The government and local authorities are obligated to provide schools, set benchmarks, rules of implementation etc regarding various provisions of the Act. The government has to work towards restoring the sanctity of the childhood of school-going children as well as out of school children, including children with disabilities.
It is understood that the Act aims at those who are not privileged enough to exercise their right to quality education. It has become crucial to inculcate equality in our society where large scale disparity prevails. Therefore, every child is equal before law and all of them should have access to the same quality of education. The responsibility of the authorities does not end at bringing such children to school, the essence of the Act is that they actually attend school and complete their elementary education. It is unfortunate that access to education has been a constant struggle for the unprivileged and disempowered. The State was expected to bring all the children into school within ten years of the commencement of the Constitution but miserably failed. Unnikrishnan’s landmark judgment (1993) of the Hon’ble Supreme Court declaring right to education a fundamental right of every child has never been implemented. Now Article 21-A has been inserted in the Constitution which mandates State to provide free and compulsory education to all the children in the age group 6 to 14 years now that the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009 has been passed and come into force w.e.f. 01.04.2010. It is submitted that despite all these legislations and assurances, the children of the masses are continued to be deprived of their right to quality education. The need of the hour is to inculcate an accountability system wherein anyone who disobeys the protocol laid down by the Act will be answerable.
We, therefore, most humbly request you to kindly take cognizance of these postcards and initiate appropriate proceedings against both the State Government and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to redress the just, legal and bonafide grievances of the students of these schools relating to serious violations of their right to education.
Ashok Agarwal, Advocate
Advisor, Social Jurist