Shiv Prasad Ahirwar was president of Parents’ Teacher Association of a primary government school in Bhagwanganj area of the Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh. He had burnt himself in protest and frustration on January 7, 2008. This was not for any of his own personal demands but for want of school building for the children of the school of which he represents. He had suffered 80 per cent burns and then he succumbed to death in the Bhopal government hospital. This incident is probably first of its kind in India when someone had given his life for a cause of school building for children.
In this case, money had been approved for the school building, in fact had lapsed twice but the problem was that land could not be allocated. Why? Probably the district did not have any government land to be allocated for the school in the area, because of which he protested. Majority of children in the school are harijans and his point was that if the land could be provided for other buildings then why not for a school, a point which leaves all of us to ponder. Hope his sacrifice does not goes unnoticed, and brings light to problem of poor children in this area and across India in years to come.
At a time when government of India spends more than 32,000 crores on primary education and a special cess of 2 per cent is levied on citizens of India for making sure that each and every child of India goes to school, this incident bring us back to the question of implementation of the much pronounced schemes and the kind of glitches which get into the way of providing each child the basic right to education. Let his fight which he has started not get lost but ignite more momentum to civil society and media to push hard for the implementation of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Let’s not allow more Shiv Prasad Ahirwars to place their life at stake for need of a school building. It may be important to mention here that this is not the only one school in the district, which does not have a building, but as per District Elementary Education Report Card popularly known as DISE report, 6.9 per cent children are enrolled in schools without a building in Sagar district. It is also reported that more than 46,000 schools in India don’t have a school building, one of the basic minimum needs for making sure that all children go to school to gain knowledge.