22000 CHILDREN DENIED
People take to the streets of Kosad to demand more schools
Kosad, Surat, 3 June 2011: 200 people from Kosad today marched to the Prathmik Shikshan Adhikari Office to demand more schools. There are two government schools that accommodate only 3000 children. But with 25,000 children in Kosad, 22,000 are without the Constitutional Right to free, quality education. The marchers were raising their voices against past inaction on repeated appeals made to the authorities for more schools near their homes.
The rally was facilitated by Bharatbhai Kantharia, a CRY (Child Rights and You) fellow and a member of Buniyadi Adhikar Andolan, an alliance on children’s rights in Gujarat. It was part of an ongoing campaign to ensure Kosad’s children gain access to all the basic entitlements promised by the Indian Constitution, “The irony is that the Surat Municipal Corporation received awards for Best Performing JNNURM City, including one on inclusive, pro-poor project implementation.” he says.
Children who are left out of these schools are forced to travel for up to 7 kms to get to the nearest school. This adds to the financial burden on their below-poverty-line families as it means spending atleast Rs.60 rupees per day on the daily commute. Kreeanne Rabadi, Regional Director, CRY states, “Every child in India is guaranteed a free quality school near their homes under the RTE (Right to Education) Act. The Surat Municipality owes all of Kosad’s 25,000 children access to free, quality education.”
Situated on the outskirts of Surat, Kosad is a settlement that was created under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission to rehabilitate slum dwellers from different Surat’s slums. Over a period of time the number of families rehabilitated has swelled to 15,000. The social infrastructure, however, cannot meet the needs of these growing numbers.
The community’s campaign for justice has, till date, taken the form of filing several RTIs to find out how much money has been allocated and what amenities their settlement is entitled to. They are now also getting together and rallying to demand their rights and those of their children.
Demands placed by the people of Kosad:
- Every child should be in school
- There should be atleast 10 more schools in the area.
- Schools should ensure the right to protection, especially for the girl child.
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Kosad – A Failed Experiment in Rehabilitating the Urban Poor?
Kosad is a rehabilitation settlement created to accommodate people displaced from the city’s 406 slum pockets. The lands on which these slums were are formally owned by the government, or by private landowners.
Rehabilitation outside city limits has deprived the slum dwelling community not only from their homes and livelihood options, but also every basic entitlement the city provides – including drinking water and schools. All the families are below the official poverty line, although very few have a BPL Card to prove this. They now have to spend at least Rs.50 per day to commute to work.
The impact on children is the most serious. Most are forced to drop out of school. Left alone and out of school, they are also deprived of care and protection. Very young children have no rights at all since the entire area has not even one Anganwadi (ICDS Center or nursery for children between 3 and six years of age). This is despite a Supreme Court Ruling mandating every settlement with more than 300 people should have an Anganwadi. There are no free primary healthcare centres in the area either.
The houses built under the JNNURM are not outright giveaways; these chronically poor families are paying back housing loans to the government. For those who keep livestock (typically cattle) for a living, the severe space crunch has proved a serious drawback and loss of an income generation source.
Additional Information about the JNUURM in Surat:
- The Surat Municipal Cooperation (SMC) has received ten projects under the Jawaharlal Nehru Nation Urban Renewal Mission (JUNNURM), with a Rs. 2100 crores budget.
- The data gathered from the SMC, Slum Survey 2005-06 shows that the total slum population in Surat was 4.97 lakh, This means that one fifth (20.7%) of the city’s population lived in its slums.
- The entire slum population was distributed in 91,529 households with an average of 4.6 persons per unit (Das, 1994). These slums acquired the area of 94,37,206.488 sq m. This land is own by government (71 slum), private (116 slums) and SMC (145 slums) partially.
- Other than above 332, another 84 slums were added to the SMC data later, which makes the total list of 406 slum pockets in the city.