Saturday, November 10, 2007


Sonia daughter of Sheila, resident of 5436, Harijan Basti, Chandrawal Road, Ghanta Ghar, Delhi, India, a scheduled caste student of class IV of MCD Primary School, E Block, Kamla Nagar, Delhi-110007, is facing humiliation by none other than her own class teacher on daily basis since April 2007 (commencement of the academic year 2007-2008) as Sonia is unable to pay yearly school fee of rupees forty six (rupees three per month on account of Hobby, Boys and Bulbul funds and rupees ten annually on account of Parent-Teacher Association). Sonia is not the only case. Several of her similarly situated classmates are also facing humiliation from the same class teacher.

Sonia’s mother Sheila met me on the morning of 26.09.2007 in Kamla Nagar area when she was escorting Sonia and three other students to school and I was on my visit to schools in that area. Sonia’s mother Sheila narrated to me that she works as a maid servant and earns rupees one thousand per month. Her husband is sick and does not earn anything. She has four children including Sonia. She has no other source of income. With such a small income, she runs her house with lot of difficulty and it is not possible for her to pay the school fee of Sonia. She has been regularly sending Sonia to school as she wants her daughter to study. The class teacher every day demands rupees fifty from Sonia and then humiliates her in front of the entire class for failure to pay the demanded money.

On hearing Sonia’s mother, I immediately went along with her and Sonia to the school. I met the class teacher in the Principal’s room and enquired from her as to why she was humiliating Sonia if Sonia was unable to pay the school fees. The class teacher initially took the stand that Sonia has already deposited her school fees and she was not humiliating Sonia. The class teacher even showed me the fee register having month-wise regular entry of deposit of fees by all the students including Sonia of her class. I could easily smell some foul play in this statement of the teacher. Sonia and her mother were also present in the Principal’s room. I decided to enquire further in the matter. I asked the teacher if Sonia had been paying her fees regularly, then why she was demanding rupees fifty from Sonia. Thereafter, the teacher could not resist her from telling the truth.

The class teacher stated that she has been depositing the fees of the students including that of Sonia from her own pocket every month in order to avoid striking of the names of the students from the rolls of the school. If students’ names are struck of, the strength of the students in the class will come below the required minimum strength. In such situation, she will become surplus and will face transfer to other school. She is residing nearby the school and in order to avoid transfer, she has been adopting this practice of first depositing fees of the students from her own pocket and thereafter, to recover her money, pressuring the students every day.

Though the class teacher did not categorically admit the allegation of humiliating the students for money, but it was quite apparent from her tenor of statement. I talked about this incident with the Chairman, Standing Committee, MCD and the Director of Education, MCD and I was informed that this practice is very common in MCD Schools in the urban area as teachers do not want to move from such schools despite drastic reduction of the strength of the students. The authorities found themselves helpless. Several schools have been constructed by spending huge public money at urban area sites just to accommodate the teachers, even if there is no student. On the other hand, where large numbers of students are there and more schools/classrooms are seriously and immediately needed, the authorities are doing nothing.

This striking revelation exposes the matrix in State run schools in the national capital of the country. The teachers are more involved in manipulations than teaching the students. Like money lenders, to recover money, the teachers do not mind harassing and humiliating kids and their parents. The authorities despite knowing well about the prevalence of such pernicious practices are expressing helplessness; obviously, they do not want to displease their political bosses. The little kids and their hapless parents are the victims of this politicians-bureaucrats nexus. It is unfortunate that the authorities have no respect for the child rights.

Surprising, despite Supreme Court declaring right to free education, a fundamental right of every child up to the age of fourteen years, way back in 1992 in the case of Unnikrishanan, the government run schools still insist the students to pay fee on one or the other pretext. Moreover, Article 21-A has been inserted in the Constitution of India by 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002 which mandates the State to provide free and compulsory education to all the children in the age group 6 to 14 years. These constitutional rights of the children of masses are being violated by the State with impunity. How long the authorities will continue to deny basic human and fundamental right to quality education to the children of the masses? Like Sonia, every child of this country is seeking answer to this question from the government.

(Ashok Agarwal, Advocate, Advisor, Social Jurist, Mobile-9811101923, dated 11.11.2007, contact at Email:

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