BANGALORE: When the Centre introduced the Right to Education (RTE) Act four years ago, the aim was to ensure the poorest of children had access to quality education. For many parents, it was a dream come true - to see their child study in an English-medium school alongside the privileged. Taking forward the RTE series, TOI goes back to five parents who now dare to dream big, thanks to the RTE.
Case 1: I don't spend a single rupee on education
Two years ago, Narasimha Prasad, a phenyl and bleaching powder trader who earned Rs 15,000 per month, met with an accident. The sole breadwinner of the family, Narasimha was at his wits' end on how he could get a seat for his son in a private school. A fractured leg only meant his earnings dwindled. This harried father, who lives with his wife and two children near Bagalur Road, didn't want to send son Sathwik to the government school nearby; the school was perennially short of teachers. As admission season neared, Narasimha read an article on RTE in a newspaper, and applied for a seat in Sathya Sai Education Trust. "It was a gala moment at home when my son's name was announced under RTE. If I hadn't got the seat, I couldn't have sent my son to school that year. I'm not spending a single rupee for my kid's education. My biggest joy is he's learning to use the computer," he says.
Case 2: We hope he'll grow up to be an engineer
Each time class 1 student Gopal Krishna Manohar Sutar rattles off English poems, his parents are awestruck. Gopal, son of Sham Sutar, a carpenter, is the first to attend an international school in his family. Sham, from Belgaum, shifted to Bangalore five years ago when his son got admission at Indus International School, Bangalore. Sham's salary of Rs 7,000 barely takes care of his household expenses, including rent of Rs 2,500. Thinking of an international school for his child was foolhardy, but RTE came to his rescue. Today Gopal is weaving dreams of a beautiful tomorrow. Says his mother Annapoorna, "Gopal is the first boy from our family who speaks English. We hope he'll grow up to be an engineer one day."
Case 3: School authorities take good care of my son
A sick husband, a daily earning of barely Rs 250, and soaring medical bills -- Reshma Khanum, a homemaker, was struggling to make ends meet. She had almost given up on sending her son to school, till her neighbours showed her the way; they encouraged her to apply for a seat under RTE. With necessary documents in place, Reshma knocked on the doors of Indus International School, and without much ado, she managed to get a seat. "School authorities take good care of my son; they don't discriminate. This positive development in life gives me the courage to continue with my struggles," says Reshma, who dreams of making her son a doctor. "I know the value of a doctor," she adds.
Case 4: Many poor parents aren't aware of RTE
When a dozen schools denied his daughter a seat under RTE quota, this cab driver decided to take the bull by the horns - Kumar M turned into an RTE activist. While many doors were shut on him, S Cadambi Vidya Kendra welcomed his daughter Ananya K. "I was very disappointed when 12 schools refused admission to my daughter. But I didn't give up," says Kumar. His own bitter experiences propelled him to spread awareness about the Act. "There are many poor kids on the streets, and their parents aren't aware of RTE. During my free time, I distribute pamphlets with details about the Act and its provisions," says Kumar. The gritty father lives with his family in a slum in Basveshwarnagar.
Case 5: My daughter is getting quality education
Syed Khaleel, an autorickshaw driver, is a doting father who is proud of his little princess. Noor Fathima, a class 2 student, is the first kid from the family to study in a CBSE school. Noor is a student of Navodaya Kishore Kendra CBSE Vidyalaya, Singapura. "My daughter is getting quality education. That's all I want," says Syed, who's taken it upon himself to spread the good word about this Act. "In a year, I learnt quite a lot about RTE rules. In fact, I've managed to get five of my friends' kids admitted in various schools under RTE." Like other beneficiaries, Syed is also elated to hear his daughter speak fluent English. "Noor studied LKG and UKG in a Kannada medium school, but now her English is good," says Syed.