E-governance and the Common man

As many of you know, I am a Gandhi Fellow with Kaivalya Education Foundation and I work with Thane Municipal Corporation schools on Headmaster Leadership and in strengthening of school processes, keeping in mind the increment in Student Learning Outcome. Admission drive for the current academic year is running in all the schools and the story I’m sharing here is about a father who came to school last week to enrol his three children. He and his family had just moved to Thane from his village in UP. He was assisted by the lady of the house in which his wife works as a maid, to help them out in the admission process.

The boy was less than 5 years old and the girls were of 10 and 11 years old respectively. Also, the girls hadn’t had any formal education before. As per RTE, any child between the ages 6 and 14 who hasn’t attended school before can be enrolled to age appropriate classes.

But what turned out was that both the girls had the same date of birth (01/01/2006) in the Aadhaar Card and that of the boy was 01/01/2012. The Senior Teacher-in-charge and I pointed out this to the father and it seemed he was noticing it for the first time. He knew the actual date of birth of his children but this was it had come out printed in the Aadhaar Card and that was the only official document in the children’s name.

Savitri ma’am, the Senior Teacher in-charge) told him that she can’t give admission to the children when such a mistake exists in the document. Even though no documents are mandatory at the time of enrollment as per the RTE norms, it would create a problem later for one of the reasons that bank accounts are to be opened for each student and they’ll be receiving their grants to that account. Also, the boy could be given admission to class 1 since he was 5 years and 4 months as per the card but in real he is supposed to be admitted in senior KG since he was only 4 years and 10 months old in real. Hence Savitri ma’am suggested them to get a letter from the Nagar Sevak (Corporator) upon which admission could be given according to the actual age of the kids, but will have to make the necessary changes in the Aadhaar card soon.

When I asked him about the birth certificate of the kids, he said that they were given birth in the village and no such document had been taken. When asked about the mistake that came up in the Aadhaar card, he told me that it was applied for during the drive that happened in his village a few months back. He said that the officials told him Aadhaar would be the only document he and his family would ever need and this is what they do to an uneducated man like him. He said that he has come all this way from his village to make a living and provide education to his children. He also said he would make the necessary corrections soon and make things better for his children.