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50% children irregular in school: Survey

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, April 30 - A baseline survey conducted among 10,000 children from 10 tea gardens across four blocks of Sonitpur district revealed that around 50 per cent of the children in the tea gardens do not attend schools regularly.

Also, among the sample schools (surveyed), only 30 per cent of them adhere to the pupil-teacher ratio as per the Right to Education Act.

In a media consultation on �Protecting the rights of children of tea plantation workers in Assam: a call for joint action� organised here today by �Save the Children� in association with PAJHRA and People�s Action for Development, it was also stated that there is a provision of only a few cr�ches in the tea gardens, of which many are non functional.

�With 90 per cent of the adolescent girls believed to be anaemic, the health quotient of the tea garden population has been found wanting,� said Chittapriyo Sadhu, General Manager, Save the Children, while interacting with mediapersons.

The education opportunities for the children are also limited with only a few lower primary schools and lack of access to higher education.

�Besides, only 30 per cent of the schools have provisions for separate toilets for girl children, which eventually leads to increase drop out among girls,� the survey revealed.

�The survey also found several other gross violations of education and health rights,� he added. Wilfred Topno of People�s Action for Development said, �Just because they are born in tea gardens, they should not be deprived of basic entitlements. The basic benefits have to be ensured.�

Topno, replying to a query, said that the explanations given by various stakeholders for not providing space for construction of schools by the Government in the tea gardens, does not hold good as several tea estates in West Bengal have already shown the way.

Among other initiatives, the consultation stressed on the need to facilitate convergence between line departments including Department of Child and Women Development, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Labour Commissionerate, Education Department, Panchayat representatives and members from other civil society organisations.

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