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Monday, April 30, 2018

Distance learning? For these students near Mumbai, school is a one-hour walk away | Hindustan Times

Photo: Yesha Kotak
Yesha Kotak, Community Reporter at Hindustan Times reports, "With kuchha road and no modes of transport, students from 16 tribal hamlets in Thane are forced to take the long walk to reach school."

Girls on their to school Patlipada in Thane.
Photo: Pratik Chorge/HT Photo

Lalita Dhole, a domestic help, dreams of providing the best education to her children. Her biggest worry is not how they will perform in their exams, but their safety. Her apprehension stems from the fact that her children have to meander through a rut road and a forest for an hour before reaching school.

Dhole is not from one of the BIMARU states, but a satellite town of Mumbai, Thane, which boasts of world-class educational institutes and a throbbing commercial apparatus.

The anxiety is shared by parents, most of them illiterate, from 16 tribal hamlets in Thane, whose children have to overcome several obstacles. 

“No vehicles enter our area due to the kuchha road. There are no streetlights, which make us worried that animals may attack our children. During the monsoon, it becomes impossible to send them to schools because of waterlogging,” says Dhole.

Amid talks of making Maharashtra a trillion-dollar economy by 2025, education seems to be a luxury, not a basic right for students from tribal hamlets in Kasar Vadavali at Ghodbunder Road and Yeoor Hills. Even the Right to Education Act, passed nine years ago, has not nudged the Thane authorities to make education more accessible by building roads and ironing out other mobility issues.

However, Takadapada and Paankhanda villages, which are 3km-4km from the hamlets, have schools till Class 8.

Most hilly padas are home to Warli tribes, with no access to electricity and water. One of the tribal hamlets in Kasar Vadavali, Pachvadpada, which is half an hour away from Thane station, overlooks high-rises. Seventy families living in the pada are labourers or work as house helps in these high-rises.

“As our parents never sent us to school, we don’t want this thing to happen to our children. Though we have enrolled them in schools, there are various problems, which make it difficult for them to continue education,” says Anita Dhandekar, resident of Pachvadpada. The nearest school for Anita’s son is at Takadapada, and he leaves an hour before the school time...

‘College is a dream’
Vasant Gavit, village head at Pachvadpada, said apart from his children, there are only two boys who have studied till Class 12 in his pada.

“Notwithstanding our proximity to Mumbai, we do not get enough facilities,” complains Gavit. Gavit informs that a few village heads have acquired five-and-a-half acres of land from the collector. A part of the land is likely to be used to open a small school or a balwadi. The plan may take more than three years before it comes to fruition.

“None of the children from our pada has studied in college. Boys mostly leave studies after Class 8 owing to the distance, while girls are expected to stay at home. College seems like a distant dream for the children,” Gavit contends...

Yesha Kotak states in the the end of the article: "What the law says"
According to the Right to Education Act, 2009, for Class1-5 students, the nearest school must be within a km.

Schools for Class 6-8 students must be within a radius of three kilometres.

If schools are farther the prescribed limit, the authorities need provide free transportation, mandates the Act.
Read more... 

Source: Hindustan Times