In Bihar, the government is fast waking up to the realisation that the state lags behind where education is concerned. According to the 2001 census the literacy rate of the state’s citizens is barely 40 percent, although India is way ahead at over 60 per cent, with some states like Kerala notching up almost a hundred percent literacy.  

So now when other measures have not given the government the success it craves for, it has decided to use the law to force kids to go to school!

Quoting from a TOI report:

The state is home to around 24 lakh children between six and 14 years who do not go to school. In its effort to increase school enrolment, the state government has hit upon a novel idea to use the police for spreading the importance of education. Local police constables now move around in neighbourhood villages looking for children who should be in school. They also visit homes and check out commercial establishments to locate child labourers. The campaign has been on for about a month now and 20,000-odd new students have already been added to the rolls of government primary schools. Preliminary reports say children feel very important to have policemen requesting them to attend school…(however) the bigger challenge will be to ensure the newly- enrolled children do not drop out.

The government is insisting that no ‘force’ is being used…in fact parents are being counseled by policemen about the importance of educating their children. In any case, right now the cops are taking this issue one step at a time. Apparently a lot of the parents are against the idea of educating their children. They feel it is not a practical idea as they want the children to work or pick up some skill.

Well, time will tell whether the police will succeed. In fact if they do use force, they will alienate the public. But if force is not used, and they do this ‘policing’ consistently over several years then it may well work. In fact, using policemen for this job is an excellent idea. Social workers are not seen as ‘powerful’ people and their word may not carry as much weight as a cop in uniform. Ofcourse, this tactic is unlikely to work long term with those kids whose earnings the parents’ are desperately dependent upon, but it will definitely help those on the borderline.

(Photo sourced from the bbc)