Hyderabad: A study by non-governmental organisation Pratham, focusing on areas in the old city, has found that poverty was keeping 16 per cent of children away from school.
Researchers from Pratham Council for Vulnerable Children, the child rights wing of Pratham, interviewed 180 children, in the age group of 7 years to 18 years, from 10 different localities in the old city on different aspects.
The children interviewed were from Bahadurpura, Bandlaguda, Bibi-ka-Chasma, Hafeezbaba Nagar, Jahannuma, Moin Bagh, Nawab Saheb Kunta, Riyasat nagar, Talabkatta and Yakutpura.
To find the schooling status, 146 children were interviewed, of which 84 per cent children were enrolled in private and government schools, whereas 16 per cent were out of schools.
The major reasons for the children not attending school, apart from poor economic background, also included disinterest on part of parents as well as children, to get enrolled in schools.
According to Shashikant Gurav, State Coordinator of Pratham, 65 out of 180 children said, they had seen addicts and alcoholics in their family and neighbourhood, while 46 children said they were scared whenever they came across such people.
Ninety-five children said they had received some form of verbal as well as physical punishment at school, while 27 children said they were not punished in any manner.
Similarly, 88 per cent, or 158 children, said they had not faced any incidents of bullying and punishment in the community, while 12 per cent of them said they had faced such incidents in the form of eve-teasing, harassment, verbal and physical abuse.
In almost all schools, children said facilities such as water supply, electricity and toilets, were available but needed improvement. They also wanted adequate facilities for playgrounds, games and sports equipment, suggestion boxes in school, and a change in attitude among school personnel.
Maliha Farisa, a child right activist and principal of a private school in old city said due to acute poverty, many small children did not even had toys to play at home. Children from lower income families always faced a higher level of stress which affected their learning capabilities, she said.
What think of police?
Of the 180 children interviewed by Pratham, 102, or 57 per cent, had a positive opinion of the police, while 44 or 26 per cent had a negative opinion; while 31 children that is 17 per cent had a neutral opinion, three children had a mixed opinion.
The positive opinion, the NGO said, stemmed from the experiences they had seen in their community, with children saying they had seen police take action against miscreants and help those in need.
Some of those who had a negative or neutral opinion said they had seen police taking bribe and not doing their work effectively.