Elementary education is a Constitutional right of all children and the state has a duty to facilitate all the children to avail this. This has been stated by the country's top court in New Delhi recently.
Terming the situation of those children who have lost both or either of their parents during the pandemic, as "heart wrenching", the Supreme Court also expressed satisfaction over schemes announced by the Centre and states for them. The Court said that "satisfactory progress" has been made by the Executive in identifying children who have either become orphans or have lost one of their parents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A bench of justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose stated, "We are glad that the UoI (Union of India) and the state governments/Union Territories have announced schemes to provide succour to the children in need. We have no doubt that the authorities concerned would leave no stone unturned to attend to the immediate basic needs of the crestfallen children".
While hearing a suo motu matter on "Contagion of COVID-19 on children protection homes", the Supreme Court noted in its order that over one lakh children have lost either or both parents during the pandemic.While hearing a suo motu matter on "Contagion of COVID-19 on children protection homes", the Supreme Court noted in its order that over one lakh children have lost either or both parents during the pandemic. "The catastrophe caused by the cataclysmic COVID-19 has devastated many lives, especially children at a tender age who have lost their parents," the bench said.
However there is the need to take immediate steps by the respective state governments on this matter. Inquiries by Child Welfare Committee (CWCs), in accordance with provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, have to be expedited to identify those children who are in need of care and protection. Immediate steps also have to be taken to ensure that benefits of schemes reach the needy minors.
The bench said that education of children who have lost either or both parents after March last year must be taken care of by the state governments. The governments shall confer with private schools to waive the fee of distressed children for the current academic year. The Court said that if the private institutions are unwilling to effectuate such waiver, the state government shall shoulder the burden of the fee. In respect of those children amongst the 2,600 registered under the "PM CARES for Children scheme", the state governments can request the government of India to bear the fee and other expenses pertaining to their education for the current academic year." (Based on inputs from PTI)