22 June, 2021

An Unequal Childhood

Education remains a preserve of the rich as India’s states renege on the 25 per cent reservation the RTE Act promises to the poor

An Unequal Childhood

It is a day of trepidation for Prakash. A short, gawky man in his early thirties, he is among the several anxious parents waiting at a Bangalore school for the draw of lots to commence, he perhaps more anxious than the others. The process begins finally, in the presence of video cameras, the district education officer and the school principal. Slips are picked up one by one, smiles come and go as each name is called out, signalling the filling up of another vacancy. Prakash is willing his heart to beat a little less loudly. And then...

They call it out: Lavanya. The name of his five-year-old. The one who will become the first to go to school in his family. A milkman’s daughter whose future has just changed forever. Of future generations too perhaps. Prakash lets out a scream of joy, inviting curious glances. Finds himself crying and laughing at the same time. He has had to forgo his daily income of Rs 200 today. But it has all been worth it. His daughter would be going not just to any school, but a private, English-medium, international school. There is no doubt in...

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