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Southern States - Andhra Pradesh

Compulsory education mooted in A.P.
By Our Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD, JAN. 7. The Government wants to recognise education as a fundamental right of the child, pursue the objective vigorously and reach the goal of total literacy by bringing about three million kids into the fold of schools in four years.

Talking to reporters after a Janmabhoomi visit to Rapole in Ranga Reddy district on Monday, the Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, said the programme had generated a lot of awareness among the people not only about population control but also about the need to send children to schools.

There were 2.8 million children in the 5-14 age group who still remained outside the regular school-going stream. They would be put through bridge course in the coming 4 to 5 years to achieve near total literacy.

A sound infrastructure base was created in the rural areas during the past few years with the establishment of a number of schools with adequate teachers.

The Chief Minister referred to a Supreme Court order to the Government of India in this regard, and said the State Government would amend the existing laws to enable compulsory education.

It was also proposed to introduce deterrent punishment and other disincentives to those who declined to send their children to schools.

At Rapole, Mr. Chandrababu Naidu ticked off parents who held back their children from schools on one count or the other and ordered that half a dozen boys and girls be admitted straightaway to residential school or bridge course.

He made one of the erring parents to tell the audience that it was an offence not to send children to schools.

The kids were diverted from school to tend siblings or herd cattle/ sheep or work on the fields to keep the family hearth burning.

Mr. Naidu put his foot down on the ground that a child's future could not be compromised for immediate gains.

In his mid-term review, he said Janmabhoomi had come to stay and created awareness among women, farmers and the weaker sections over the last five years.

As part of a participatory programme to lay cement roads in villages, the Government reached an understanding with cement manufacturers for transporting cement to villages across the State at Rs. 115 per bag and Rs. 120 in Srikakulam district.

He gave details of cumulative achievements under janmabhoomi and in the current phase so far.

Mr. Naidu referred to the generous outright grant by the UK DFID for promotion of education, women's empowerment and

watershed development, and said the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was all praise for the DFID-funded activities and promised more help.

He regretted, however, that while the people were convinced about his development thrust and approach, some Opposition parties like the Congress and the Left refused to move with changing times and stuck to outmoded philosophies.

Messrs. T. Devender Goud, Home Minister, K. Hariswar Reddy, Deputy Speaker and Pargi MLA, Gyaneshwar, ZP Chairman, Ajay Jain, Collector, and others attended the programme.

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