For these children of Karnataka, it’s a long trek to school, and a pair of shoes is no fancy accessory – The Hindu

Members of the School Development and Monitoring Committees, and students’ organisations said uniforms, shoes and socks were not “accessories”, but what schoolchildren need to ensure uniformity, dignity and health.
“Our parents cannot afford shoes. We have to walk around 14 km barefoot daily to reach our school at Yepaladinni village in Raichur district and back home, ‘‘ says a Class VIII student Yashoda. Her village Raladoddi is situated 25 km from Raichur city, but has no bus facilities. It takes around one and half hours for students from Raladoddi to reach Yepaladinni school on foot, which is around 7 km. Sandeep, a Class IX student of Appanadoddi village, which is 6 km from Yepaladinni, also faces the same situation.
Even though Karnataka government announced on Friday that it would release ₹132 crore to procure socks and shoes through SDMCs, it would take at least two months before it can reach them. As of now, government and aided schools students are going to schools in old uniforms (work orders have been issued for them recently) and wearing slippers or going barefoot, particularly in rural areas.
In Malnad areas, students walk long distances to reach the schools and they require proper footwear. A.G. Nityananda, president of the School Development and Monitoring Committee of GHPS at Honnetalu in Tirthahalli taluk, said the last time the government provided funds for shoes and socks was in 2020. “Some donors have been supporting our school,” he said.
Earlier, the government was distributing bicycles for Class VIII government and aided school students, and uniforms, shoes and socks for students from Classes I to X. Bicycle disbursal was stopped in 2019-20. With the disruptions in the academic calendar owing to pandemic and financial crunch, the government also stopped allocating funds for the distribution of shoes and socks for students.
Since 2019-20, the State government did not allocate funds for shoes and socks in the annual Budget either. But as demand from students and the public organisations grew, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai announced on March 16 this year that he would allocate special funds for bicycle, shoes and socks for school students. But even two months after schools reopened, it has not happened. Bicycle still remains elusive.
Owing to the pandemic, last year, the distribution of school uniforms too was delayed. The Department of School Education and Literacy had completed the distribution of uniforms this March, while for the ongoing year too, the tender process had been delayed and there is no sign of early distribution of uniforms. This has forced students to either wear old uniforms or go to school in colour dresses.
Members of the SDMC and students’ organisations said uniforms, shoes and socks were not “accessories”, but what schoolchildren needed to ensure uniformity, dignity and health.
G. Umesh, president, SDMC Coordination Committee from Ramanagaram, said: “Uniforms, shoes and socks are not fancy things, but things for uniformity, dignity and health. After the distribution of bicycles were stopped, girls particularly in rural areas, are avoiding going to schools. Since three years, there have been no shoes and socks for students.”
(With inputs from Praveen Para from Kalaburagi, Jayanth R. from Bengaluru, and Sathish G.T. in Hassan.)

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Printable version | Jul 9, 2022 12:39:06 am |


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