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May 17, 2015

When Delhi’s Streets Buzzed with ‘Haq Banta Hai’

Amit   /   Amit Sengupta

Street play: Haq Banta Hai campaign

A girl student looks curiously during one of the street plays, while people sign pledges at Kisaan Haat, Chhattarpur in Delhi.

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The streets of Delhi buzzed with the call of #HaqBantaHai. Know more http://bit.ly/1KXaV34

Delhi’s streets buzzed with ‘Haq Banta Hai’ over the last one month. A team of diverse theatre and street play personalities gathered over several places around Delhi’s popular locations to connect with people for Oxfam India’s Right to Education campaign. 

This group of people, known interestingly as ‘Sadak Chhap’, swooped over several key locations across Delhi to perform ‘street plays’, ‘skits’ and ‘magic shows’ to press for the speedy implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act. 

The RTE Act, which has been in force since April 2010, has immense potential to bring millions of children who are out of school education back and provide what is quintessentially their fundamental right. 

Currently, there is a staggering six million children who are out of school education. Most of these children are not able to avail of school education due to a plethora of reasons – but one of the fundamental reasons is lack of government school within the reach of their residences. 

The presence of a government school is vital in the sense that it is this public school which is mandated to provide ‘free and compulsory’ education to each and every child between 6 to 14 years. This provision is extremely fundamental for a government school to fulfill under the compliance of the Right to Education Act. But that is hardly the case. 

Only 8 percent of the country’s government schools fully comply with the provisions of the Act. Guess the immense benefit that these out of school children would have if all of these schools were to fulfill the compliances of the Act fully. These are many such stark realities that are thoughtfully and creatively put across by these groups of youth activists who took to the public places in the country’s capital. 

Sadak Chhap’ and its team collaborated with a host of institutes across Delhi to put forward these shows and bring a heightened awareness on the issue and to create a supporting climate to put pressure on the parliamentarians, primarily on the union education minister for implementation of the Act fully in the next three years. 

An interesting mix of messaging, plays, public dialogues, song and dance were performed in many places such as Dilli Haat, INA; Kisaan Haat, Chhattarpur; Karol Bagh, Seemapuri, Ballimaran; Dilli Haat, Janakpuri; and Jamia Milia Islamia university campus. 

Sometimes, whenever required, magic shows were performed to convey the message in a profound way to kids, school going children and youth. A mix of laughter and an honest realization kept the audience engaged for a longer period. 

“Did you know that there are only 8 percent government schools which comply fully with the provisions of the RTE Act?”, quipped the magician (in one of the shows in Dilli Haat, which I attended early this month). 

“What are the problems with government schools in general?,” the magician asked next. 

“Lack of toilets for girls and absence of adequate classrooms,” said a group of audience. While the others said: “Unavailability of trained and qualified teachers and lack of budget.” Meanwhile, in one of the other such shows at Kisan Haat, an audience remarked: “Government must take full responsibility for education and make adequate provisions and we as citizens must play an active part in our efforts and ensure the government does so.”

Neha, a young girl in the audience said: “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 the role of active citizenship to ensure educational rights for children. 

Hundreds of them gave missed calls and signed to pledge support for the ‘Haq Banta Hai’. Some of them also expressed desire to support the initiative by contributing their services and through financial support. A sustained dialogue and a positive climate for audience’s orientation towards the issue were made possible through these shows.   

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.

 

Written by Amit Sengupta, Former Programme Coordinator, Campaigns, Oxfam India. He tweets at @lifeon140 

Photo Credit: Saadak Chaap

 

 

  

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