Lawyer course

Education of the poor is not our priority: Lawyer and activist Ashok Aggarwal

It has been 13 years since the Right to Education Act (RTE) came into force, making India one of 131 countries in the world to have declared education as a basic right. Parliament gave its opinion in accordance with the law in April 2010.

He was to revolutionize education in the country by making education free and compulsory for all children between the ages of 6 and 14 under Article 21 A of the Indian Constitution, obliging Union and State governments to provide free education to children.

But looking at the outrageous state of government-run schools today, it would seem to be the cruellest April Fool’s joke perpetrated on children by a country aspiring to be ‘Vishwa Guru’.

Lawyer and Supreme Court activist Ashok Aggarwal fought for the education of children and the implementation of the RTE Act in letter and spirit. He traveled state to state and filed cases to uphold children’s rights. He spoke to the National Herald about his findings and the situation:

You recently posted photos from Bihar showing broken fans, dilapidated buildings and disused classrooms. Was it the visit as the President of the All India Parents Association?

I am president of the association but I don’t need any forum to do what I do. I have traveled extensively to various states over the past 25 years including Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and also Delhi. It is unfortunately the same image everywhere.

Why do public school children receive such poor treatment?

It is a clear class division. The poor are treated like slaves in this country and no amount of constitutional guarantees matter. During my recent visit to Bihar, I saw a school with only two ceiling fan blades. The roof, I was told, had collapsed, but fortunately the professor was not in his place that day; otherwise it would have ended in tragedy.