8-Yr-Old Boy Moves Karnataka HC Demanding Second Set Of School Uniform As Per RTE Norm
The Karnataka High Court was moved by the family of an 8-year-old Dalit boy from Karnataka’s Koppal district, demanding that the state government provide the boy with a second set of school uniform, shoes, socks, books and stationery, as the Right to Education Act norms prescribe.
A student of class 4 at the Kuvempu Centenary Primary School, Manjunath Devappa Harijan has to wear the same uniform six days a week as he has not been provided with a second set of uniform by the state government.
Devappa Basappa Harijan, the boy’s father, works for a small convenience store in Koppal district’s Kinnal village as a supplier. Despite making several representations to the school principal, the Deputy Director of Public Instruction (DDPI) of Koppal district and to the Principal Secretary of Primary Education, none of his pleas was heard.
“When I met Chief Secretary Vijay Bhaskar, he told me to go home as the government does not have funds to give backward districts. He just dismissed me,” Devappa told The News Minute.
“For the last two years, the government was providing at least one set of stitched uniforms. This year, they gave us materials and told us we had to get it stitched. When we informed them that we did not have money to give the tailor, the DDPI gave us Rs 20 and asked us to get it stitched. Why should we face such an insult just because we are Dalits? Under RTE, it is the right of every SC and ST student to get two sets of school uniforms. We were only asking what was promised,” he added.
On March 17, 8-year-old Manjunath filed a writ petition with the Karnataka High Court, and the case came up for hearing this week. The state government was reprimanded for its apathy by Chief Justice of Karnataka AS Oka and Justice HT Narendra Prasad, who heard the case.
Manjunath Harijan’s counsel Ajith Anand Shetty said that the government was directed by the judges to “furnish information on the funds that were allocated and give a proper explanation about the spending”.
However, according to Purushottam Kumar, programme director of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in Karnataka, until the 2014-15 academic year, the state government was providing two sets of uniforms as it received funds allocated by the Centre. But since 2015-16, he said, the state government has received just a portion of the total funds the Centre was supposed to give them, as per their request.
A senior official with the Primary Education Department said that the state government had requested Rs 1,545 crore in 2015-16, Rs 1,878 crore in 2016-17, Rs 1,809 crore in 2017-18 and Rs 1,679 crore in 2018-19. However, data obtained from the Department of Primary Education reveals that the Centre allocated less than what is promised – Rs 927 crore in 2015-16, Rs 1,127 crore in 2016-17, Rs 1,085 crore in 2017-18 and Rs 1,007 crore in 2018-19.
The official said that all RTE schools in North Karnataka districts are facing the problem with school uniforms, shoes and stationery.
The next hearing is scheduled on August 8, and Devappa says that he has faith in the court and is expecting justice.