CABE Looks for a Way to Include Shoes in Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’s Uniforms to Poor Children

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New Delhi: The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) on Monday is looking for ways to expand its definition of uniform to provide shoes to deprived children.

CABE is the highest advisory body to advise the Central and State Governments in the field of education.

In an agenda meeting on Monday, CABE members cited the field work done by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, an autonomous body under the Ministry of Women and Child Development, to push the case of shoes for deprived school going children in various states.

“The various field visits by NCPCR have shown how children walk long distances, barefoot to schools. The world over the uniform definition includes shoes as well but not here. Sikkim is one of the states in India that gives shoes in entitlements Rajasthan does not even offer uniforms through state funds,” a CABE member said.

The world over the definition for school uniform includes shoes but in India, footwear is excluded and is not part of the initiative of universalizing education by the government of India.

Now, the body is explore how to raise the requisite funding for such a scheme from the Ministry of Finance.

“The request was made to the Ministry of Human Resource Development to raise the issue with the Ministry of Finance for including shoes in the uniform reimbursements and add to the initiative of universalizing education,” a member said.

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Framework for implementation states that the Right to Education Act mandates free and compulsory education for all children in Government schools. It further says, “Uniforms constitute an expense which poor families are often not able to afford, and thus becomes a barrier for many children pursue and complete elementary education.”

SSA provides two sets of uniform to all girls, SC, ST children and Below Poverty Line (BPL) children, wherever (i) State Governments have incorporated provision of school uniforms as a child entitlement in their State RTE Rules, and (ii) State Governments are not already providing uniforms from the State budgets. In case any state government is partially subsidizing the cost of uniform being supplied to children in school, than the amount under SSA would be restricted to the remaining.

The purpose of school uniforms is to inspire a sense of belonging and ownership of the school for the children using its services, the SSA framework says.