Ensuring Children's Access to Right to Education in Areas of Civil Unrest: Role of Youth in World's Largest Democracy

Gunjan Wadhwa
Conference paper Child Poverty and Social Protection Conference • September 2013 India

Abstract

Education is important for development of human capacities (Sen 1992, 1996), economic growth (Adeola, 1996), equality (Gradstein, 2003) and social stability (Ritzen, Easterly & Woolcock, 2000). Increased access to education is linked with the promotion of civil society (Walter, 2004) and shows that the government is concerned with the citizens of the country (Thyne, 2006). Notwithstanding all this, it was only in 2009 that India, the world's largest democracy, enacted the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, which provides 8 years of elementary education to every child in the age group of 6-14 years in an age appropriate class, leaving 111 million children in 6-14 age-group (Statistics of School Education, 2007-08) and 41% of youth in 15 to 17 years out of school. In a country where Naxalism (Maoism) is one of the most serious internal threats, the importance of educational institutions has been undermined by concerns of survival. These institutions have been converted in to relief camps during an insurgency, bringing to an abrupt halt the processes of education. Thus, the existence of these institutions is not enough - their effective functioning becomes necessary to ensure the access of children to these and protection of their fundamental right to education.

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