Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) the civic body in Bangalore reportedly will be taking up a survey to identify children begging and working as hawkers on streets or those who have dropped out of the school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This survey will cover slums and migrant workers along with other residential areas. According to BBMP officials around forty-eight Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) have shown interest in taking part in this survey which would be collecting information about children between the age groups of six and fourteen including those who have never been to school. Reportedly the municipal body has planned to educate these children by starting “school on wheels”. This school will be in the Bangalore Municipal Transportation Committee (BMTC) unused buses and with all the amenities required to teach and learn built into these buses.
This move of the BBMP is a result of the order passed by the High Court of Karnataka on November 18, 2020; in this order, the court had heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a charity organisation Letzkit Foundation and had directed the State Government of Karnataka and BBMP to conduct a survey to acquire data of Children begging and selling on streets. The Court was Pointing out that the data of children on the streets are required to be collected to ensure that they are protected under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
Speaking to Gauri Lankesh News, Narasimha Murthy of Slum Jana Andolan (SJA) welcomed this move of the BBMP. He said it was high time that the state took interest in facilitating and promoting education in the slums. According to him the current dropout rates from schools of children from slums is extremely high. Though the reason for this may vary, one of the reasons is poverty and the compulsion of more earning hands in the family. Recalling his own time growing up in the slums, Murthy observed that there also is a fall in the motivation and dedication to study in slums over time. He explains, “while we were growing up we had dreams and interests of pursuing graduation and further and it is simply not seen among the youngsters in slums anymore. Unfortunately, most of them turn towards physical labour right after high school.” Murthy thus noted that there is a need for policies at the structural level concentrating on pulling children and their families towards education. Commenting on the “School on Wheels” of the BBMP, Narasimha Murthy observed that it seemed like a short term project and would not help in achieving any structural changes, which are much needed.