This post started as a comment on Manju's post called 'Lost Childhood.'
A large number of poor children in India drop out of schools because they are afraid of being beaten by school teachers. All concerned assume some thrashing, and mental abuse are a normal part of school life.
I loved Tare Zameen Par because it trashed the ridiculous Indian belief that Corporal Punishments could create Einsteins. We should also translate Roald Dahl's BOY for all those who think it's okay to treat children so cruelly, 'for their own good'.
The experience was an eye opener. There were some kids running, playing, falling and fighting unsupervised and some classes were going on.
In one class the moment the teacher saw us pass by, he swung a stick and shouted at the kids to open their books. He had his feet on his table and was reading some newspaper till then.
The Principal was the perfect Role Model as a figure of responsibility and authority. First he was not there.
Two older boys grabbed a young boy and started rolling with him, on the floor. The younger kid was screaming. No teacher came. My friend nudged that we shouldn't be interfering, but we got them to leave him. Then a short, fat man in dirty clothes came and entered the Principal's room. We quickly rushed after him and said we'd come to meet the Principal. No response. He just opened the cupboard and took out some, believe it or not, some sort of perfume and sprayed on his wrists and armpits etc. (he looked like Q.Q.Quraishi of Bunty aur Babli). We looked at each other, wondering if he was deaf. Again I asked if we could speak to the Principal please. No reply.
If he behaved like this with us, I can't imagine what the parents are subjected to. He is supposed to run that school, and we all pay taxes for it.
He organised the same cupboard, some chalk and registers. Then as we stood wondering if we should ask someone else he sat down and very reluctantly looked at us, standing right in front of him. We explained the girl's problem - No Birth Certificate (Janam Dakhila) - but we'll get it as soon as possible,
"In the meantime could she please start attending classes ..? "
(This girl's mother was a Christian maid servant married to a Hindu man, she later got her admitted into a Christian School. I wonder if Bajrang Dal will ever find time from it's terrorists activities and raping of nuns to start running some schools or at least leave the Christian Missionaries alone to run their Schools and Orphanages.)
Why do we not allow children (in junior classes at least), to just walk into any Government School after just some minimum filling of forms? Is it worth the lives of thousands who waste years waiting for their parents to find lost or misplaced birth/transfer/certificates? Parents who don't know where their next meal is coming from are supposed to take care of certificates? Maybe they should. But they can't so should their kids play cricket by the roadside all day?
How can we talk about compulsory education when a lost proof of birth can ruin a child's life?