Haryana schoolgirls notch a major victory after State govt agrees to their demands

A village by the name of Gothra Tappa Dhaina in the Rewari district of Haryana had been seeing a lot of action since the past 10 days after some schoolgirls belonging to the village decided to sit on a hunger strike. According to reports, the girls took this major step as their long term demand of having a senior secondary school was not being fulfilled by the State Government.

As it turns out, their village school only imparted education up to the 10th standard and in order to attended the 11th and 12th standard the girls had to travel about 3-4 kilometers on cycles (mostly) every-day to attend a senior secondary school in the nearby village of Kanwali.

Apart from having to cover a long distance, the daily journey posed a major problem with the girls having to face regular eve-teasing. The girls reportedly used to be forcefully stopped by boys and harassed, which included being asked to share their mobile numbers or being asked for a picture. There was also very serious incident recorded in 2016 when a girl was reportedly raped on her way to the school.

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Things had reached such a level that certain parents had decided to discontinue the education of their daughters, some reports claim.

The local administration though kept disregarding all the persistent demands of the girls citing legality. According to the District Education Officer (DEO), the number of students required for an upgradation of a school was 150, but the current strength only stood at about 86. The DEO though has also claimed that he had previously received no complaints about eve-teasing.

Probably exasperated by everything, at least 80 girls studying in classes 9th and 12th sat on an indefinite hunger strike from 10th may, until their demand of an upgraded school was met. Their protest was soon joined by various parents and villagers.

According to the village Sarpanch, the existing school had sufficient space and infrastructure to allow for an upgrade. Bikram Singh Yadav, the local BJP MLA had reportedly claimed to have gone to the protesters himself along with education officials and assured them of an upgrade if they could meet the required strength of 150. He further claimed that the protesters initially had agreed to withdraw but didn’t do so due to political reasons.

The hunger strike did take a serious turn after it was today reported that 10 students had to be shifted to the hospital. After the issue started escalating, the state government finally relented and issued a notification to upgrade the school:

This decision was taken by the Additional Chief Secretary of the School Education Department, Panchkula. The upgraded status would be accorded from the 2017-18 session itself.

It is also unfortunate that in an age when the girls should spend their time playing and studying, they have had to risk their lives and endure extreme hardships. Plus it also remains to be seen if the existing school is provided optimal facilities as according to the village Sarpanch the school currently has a shortage of 13 teaching staff.


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