By Amit Sengupta:
Delhi’s streets buzzed with ‘Haq Banta Hai’ over the last month. A team of diverse theatre and street play personalities gathered at several places around Delhi’s popular locations to connect with people for Oxfam India’s right to education campaign.
This group of people, interestingly known as ‘Sadak Chhap’, swooped over several key locations across Delhi to perform street plays, skits and magic shows to push for the speedy implementation of the Right to Education Act. The RTE Act which has been in force since April 2010 has the immense potential of bringing millions of children back to school and provide them what is quintessentially their fundamental right.
Currently, there are six million children in India who do not go to school. They are unable to avail education due to a plethora of reasons – but one of the fundamental reasons is a lack of government schools near them. The presence of a government school is vital because it is this public school which is mandated to provide ‘free and compulsory’ education to all children between the ages of 6 to 14 years. Unfortunately, only 8 percent of the country’s government schools fully comply with the provisions of the RTE Act.
‘Sadak Chhap’ and its team collaborated with a host of institutes across Delhi and performed an interesting mix of plays, public dialogues, songs, and dances in places like Dilli Haat, Kisaan Haat, Karol Bagh, Seemapuri and Jamia Milia Islami University to increase awareness on this issue in hopes of creating a supportive climate that will put pressure on the Cabinet to implement the Act at the earliest.
Magic shows were also performed to convey the message in a profound way to kids, school going children and young adults. A mix of humour and honest representation kept the audience engaged for a longer period.
As part of a show in Dilli Haat, the magician asked the audience what they thought was lacking in government schools. The response ranged from lack of toilets for girls, absence of adequate classrooms, unavailability of trained teachers, to a lack of appropriate budget.
In another show at Kisan Haat, an audience remarked that it was the complete responsibility of the government to make adequate provisions and that citizens should actively be involved in the process.
Neha, a young girl in the audience feels that “we must end all kinds of discrimination if we are to ensure education for all and we as citizens have an active part to play in this issue.” She wanted to join the campaign and emphasized on the role active citizenship could play to ensure educational rights for children.
Hundreds have given missed calls and signed to pledge support for ‘Haq Banta Hai’. Some of them even expressed their desire to support the initiative by contributing their services and providing financial support. These performances and shows helped create a sustained dialogue and a positive involvement of the public that will hopefully move our initiative in the right direction.
Photo courtesy: Amit Sengupta/Sadak Chhap
Your support is vital. You can join us in this campaign and help foster an atmosphere where every child can have his or her ‘Haq’ (right) of education.