Bangalore: Is the Right to Education Act leading to more discrimination and elitism by schools? That is what it seems like in Bangalore with some six-year-olds at a school saying they've been tormented everyday by both school officials and classmates.
They faced the torture because they got admitted under the 25 per cent RTE quota.
When a 6-year-old girl returned from school last week with scars, her mother Geeta was shocked, for her daughter had been poked with a pencil stub by a classmate.
"I complained to the teacher, but she didn't even turn to look at what was happening," said the girl.
And what's worse is that it is not a one off case.
In June, eight children from the Laggere area of west Bangalore were admitted to the Oxford English School under the 25 per cent quota for poor children guaranteed by the RTE Act, but their joy was shortlived. Now, there's a tale of trauma and neglect hidden behind their innocent faces.
Three children say their classmates chopped off tufts of their hair during class, but teachers didn't bother to intervene. In fact, school officials exclude them from many activities.
"These children are made to sit in the last bench, they're not given homework. They're not allowed to participate in class like writing on the board that other children do. Even when there was a test, our children were excluded," said Geeta.
"Our children haven't been given the school tie and belt and the school diary. Though we've repeatedly asked for it, they keep saying it's not available as the supplies are over, even if we offer to pay for it," said Reshma Bano, mother of another child.
"We feel they're indirectly harassing the children so that parents will just withdraw their children from the school voluntarily, instead of being asked to. Of what use is the RTE then?" said Dalit activist Narayanswamy.
CNN-IBN repeatedly tried to contact the school management, but there has been no response. However, the private schools association that Oxford English school is a member of, now says it will not tolerate this.
"I condemn this act. The school will be removed from KUSMA," said G S Sharma, president, Karnataka Unaided Schools Management Association.
Worsening the situation for such children is that there has been no help from the government either, with officials saying they'll look into the matter.
"I've asked for a report on this. We'll take action after that," said G Kumar Nayak, Education Secretary, Karnataka.
The situation has forced the parents, who dreamt of an equal education for their children, to wonder if they should just shift to a government school.