The Social Democratic Forum, which works towards improving the quality of life of the poor and marginalised, demanded a 20% budgetary allocation to the education sector as it has been ignored for the last eight years.
“The low budgetary allocation appears like a conspiracy to kill government schools. In Telangana, 53% students are in private schools. The government wants to perpetuate inequality by making education inaccessible to the poor as 75% students are SC/ST/OBCs,” said A. Murali of the Social Democratic Forum while addressing a public hearing on the sector at Sundarayya Vignana Kendra in the city.
A parent who enrolled his ward in a residential school in Jagitial shared how 40 students have to eat, sleep, study and read in the same space due to shortage of classrooms since 2019.
“We have reached out to the District Collector, MLA, and education officers but to no avail. We are being threatened that cases will be filed against us for raising the issue,” said Gangarajam, whose eyes welled up while narrating the ordeal of his child.
The venue had a photo exhibition showing the deplorable state of schools in various districts of Telangana and were contrasted with schools in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Burkina Faso (ranked 122 according to GDP) as well as Delhi and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. Incidentally, while AP has earmarked ₹30,885 crore for education, Telangana with a similar budget size has allocated only ₹16,043 crore for the sector.
“This is grave injustice. The State government has a duty to fulfil its RTE responsibilities. The government has to spend the required funds for education. There has been learning loss due to COVID. We should replicate what Tamil Nadu is doing with foundation learning model,” said well-known child rights activist Shanta Sinha.