When we were celebrating Children’s Day’¦

Education of the children is worst hit in the violence affected areas as many schools are destroyed due to fight between Maoists and security forces.

We just celebrated Children’s Day with full jest and thought that our job towards children of the country was done. But at the same time, a report was released which stated that the education of children was worst hit because of the war we are fighting among ourselves.

Save the Children, an international NGO working for the betterment of children, released a report which revealed that education of the children is worst hit in the violence affected areas as many schools are destroyed due to fight between Maoists and security forces.

The report titled ‘Caught in Crossfire — Children and education in regions affected by civil strife’ was released by Jairam Ramesh, minister of rural development, on Children’s Day. (Read the report)

Eight districts of Chhattisgarh (Dantewada, Bijapur, Bastar and Narayanpur), Odisha (Gajapati and Kandhamal) Jharkhand (Khunti and Lohardagga) were studied in October-December 2012 for the report.

The report said that the strife has either led to destruction or closure of schools and often to occupying of schools by the security forces for setting up of check posts and security bases. “When schools are occupied by security forces the Maoist cadres retaliate and second, roads are destroyed because they help create access for paramilitary units carrying out anti-Maoist operations,” the report asserted.

“The condition of children, the status of their education and child protection issues in these civil strife-affected regions have been overshadowed by the discourse on conflict and conflict-resolution,” wrote Thomas Chandy, CEO of Save the Children in the foreword of the report.

The report recommended that schools should be demilitarized as per Supreme Court’s order. The government must focus on development efforts and initiate measures to build confidence amongst the local population by investing in schools, teachers, Anganwadis and health centres.

The report also mentioned that government’s right to education act has failed in some of the strife torn areas. According to the report, schools in the remote areas of Bastar Gajapati Khunti and Lohardagga do not exist.

According to the report, “Since most upper primary/secondary schools are located at a considerable distance from their homes, girls drop out after primary schools and became more vulnerable and targets of the armed groups, who use them for various exploitative purposes.”

According to the government’s study, 14 districts in Chhattisgarh, nineteen in Odisha and twenty-three in Jharkhand are affected by the Maoist insurgency. However, the report found that the schools in the violence affected areas lack not only quality teachers but also no teaching or learning resources.

Rather than speaking on his government’s inability to provide the children with their basicright, the rural development minister chose to speak words of diplomacy at the function. “There is an urgent need to change the way policymakers think about tribal areas. To policymakers, they are just mineral-rich areas that need to be developed. This report is timely as it highlights social issues like education and health,” Ramesh said.

It is disheartening to know that several children are deprived of their rights because the government has failed to contain the strife between itself and the Maoists. The children of this country will have the real Children’s Day when they will be able to sit in their schools and study for their brighter future.

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