Waste pickers of Maharashtra are in a celebratory mood. On August 27th, the Maharashtra Government finally conceded to their demand for inclusion under the centrally sponsored pre-matric scholarship scheme for children of those working in “unclean” occupations.
The idea of “equity in education” in India has unfortunately remained just an idea… And this is despite the fact that a large section of the marginalized in our country has been involved in its pursuit. Access to education continues to remain difficult for the children of waste pickers whose relentless efforts and petitions have fallen on deaf ears, and don’t find a place within the agenda of the Maharashtra government.
14 months after the Central Government Included Waste Pickers into the ‘Pre-Matriculation Scheme for children of those engaged in “Unclean Occupations”, the Government of Maharashtra has not acted on the government GR.
This petition urges the Pune (India) municipal government to 1. revoke the existing schemes offering cash rewards to meritorious students from privileged classes, and change the eligibility criteria to benefit marginalized children and 2. pay the welfare benefits due towards education of waste-pickers’ children for the period 2008-2013, and to pass a comprehensive welfare benefit scheme for them for the future.
KKPKP has advocated for the unclean occupations scholarship program at the state government level. Stree Mukti Sangatana, a women’s liberation organization that works with waste pickers, has also been involved in this process. KKPKP has also been working at the city and state levels around the Right to Education program for underprivileged children.
Lack of access to education is one of the many struggles that waste pickers and their children have endured, coupled by the pressure to drop out of school for lack of financial resources. While there has been a law in place since 1977 that designates educational support for the children of parents who perform “unclean” occupations, government officials have created barriers and made things difficult for waste pickers.