New Delhi, Apr 25 : Scores of child labourers on Friday staged a march to stress upon their demand of "right to compulsory and free education for all".
The march was a part of the Global Action Week, organised by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), the world's largest civil society coalition on education.
Global Action Week is being celebrated across the world from April 21 and will conclude on April 27.
Child labourers who attend government schools for primary education lament that they are not provided appropriate facilities and the quality of education too is really poor.
"We have gathered here because government schools are devoid of several activities and facilities that are available in private schools. Students from private schools are encouraged, as they know English and can do several other things. This result in increased dropout rate," said Ajay, a child protester.
Children held placards reading 'make law for free and compulsory education' and presented their demands before several parliamentarians.
The members of Parliament lent a patient ear to the demands of the children and assured that necessary steps would be taken to redress their problems.
"Today I will definitely talk to our lawmakers about the proposal to ensure fundamental rights of these children, which is pending since a long time. I would suggest that it should be brought into implementation in this session itself and if it is not possible in this session then it should be done by monsoon session," said Vir Chandra Paswan, a Parliamentarian.
India became a signatory of the Dakar declaration in 2000 and agreed to provide education for all by 2015 with a milestone like every child enrolled in schools by 2003 and girls comprising 50 per cent of school enrolment by 2005. But the goal however remains unfulfilled.
According to a census held in 2001, the percentage of literacy in India has risen to 65.38 from a mere 18.33 at the time of India's independence from colonial rule in 1947. Female literacy, which was 8.86 per cent in 1951, has also increased to 54.16.
Although India has some of the best engineering and medical schools in the world and also one of the largest pools of skilled workers, nearly 35 per cent of Indians are still illiterate.
The National Literacy Mission, launched in 1988 by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, has greatly helped in enhancing literacy in the country.
Consequently, the number of illiterates in the country has come down by 32 million in the last one decade, but millions of children still have no access to education.
Although India does well in school enrolment ratio with primary school enrolment of 82 per cent, the dropout rate is also very high at 39.8 per cent.