Delhi Declaration 2015 urges Government to ensure
universal primary education for all children
10 March 2015
To commemorate the death anniversary of Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule, the first woman teacher of Modern India, and emphasize on the need to put the last child first to ensure universalization of education, the National Equity Working Group (NEW-G) on education along with the Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion (CSEI) released the ‘Delhi Declaration 2015: Put the Last Child First – Every Child in School and Learning’ on 10th March 2015 at Bal Bhavan in New Delhi.
The Declaration states: Special attention, resources and mechanisms are essential to address the educational barriers and current educational inequalities between children from the socially excluded Dalit, Adivasi and Muslim communities and children from general categories. These measures are particularly important for girl children from these communities.
The occasion was graced by Rajya Sabha member Kumari Selja, who, while formally releasing the Delhi Declaration, too, pledged to universalize primary education. Over 500 children, youth, leaders and members from Dalit, tribal and minority communities converged at the National Bal Bhavan in New Delhi, on 10 March 2015 to celebrate our struggles and achievements, voice our needs and aspirations, and articulate our demands and strategies.
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, makes education a fundamental right for every child in the age group of 6 to 14 years. The UN Millennium Development Goal (UN MDG 2), 2000, too is committed to universalization of primary education by 2015. As early as 1950, the Indian Constitution directed the State to ensure provision of basic education for all children up to the age of 14 years within a period of 10 years. 65 years later, the SRI-IMRB report, “National Sample Survey of Estimation of Out-of-School Children in the Age 6-13 in India, 2014,” reports that 60 lakh children in the age 6 to 13 are currently out of school. The number of children who are not regularly attending school and the number of children who are not accessing age-appropriate learning are many times more. India has thus failed to fulfill its commitment to provide basic primary and equitable quality education with social inclusion to every child.
Acting on its MDG commitments to universalize primary education, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education is bringing the attention of world leaders through the global campaign #UPForSchool. Across the globe, about 5crore and 80 lakh children are estimated to be out of school, majorly across 29 countries. India is one among them.
“Universal primary education is a fundamental requirement for social justice. Countries without access to the skills and knowledge provided by education will fall further and further behind. We in India have many hurdles to cross when it comes to ensuring education to all our children. Political will and commitment is primary among them. We need to pressurise our leaders to ensure political will, resources, and mechanisms to fulfill its promise of providing education to all our children,” said Annie Namala, Executive Director, Centre for Social Equity & Inclusion.
Addressing discrimination and providing equalizing opportunities for children from socially excluded and marginalized communities are foundational to nurture the population dividend in the country. Without equal opportunities, systemic patterns of discrimination and exclusion prevent children from Dalit, tribal and other marginalised communities from accessing economic, political and social resources, resulting in inequality traps.
“Education of children in conflict affected areas, caste and communal riot affected areas and special measures to address the safety and social constraints for girl children are imperative. The constraints of urban poor children, migrant children, working children are cross cutting issues that need urgent attention,” added Satyendra Kumar, representative of NEWG.