India’s effective literacy rate has recorded a 9.2 per cent rise to reach 74.04%in 2011. Figures look very nice but does anyone know that despite this 8.15 million children are not in schools. So what’s the reason behind this? One of the biggest reasons is awareness. India still lacks in making people aware about the importance of education.
Bhoomi is a school started by School of Inspired Leadership is located in the Kanhai village. This school provides basic education for free to the slum children of the village. Late last month, I had an opportunity to meet the residents of the slum to create awareness about Bhoomi School and to enquire why many children don’t attend. The entrance of slum gives a different feeling. It is a completely different world. I had no perception about their lives and problems before going there. May be that’s the reason I could understand them easily and could influence them to send their children to school.
I found only one thing in abundance there and that is scarcity. Not even a single inch is clean there but they don’t care about this. Houses are made up of tins, where water comes in during the rain but they have no other option. They sit on polythene sacks but don’t complaint because they don’t know whom to complain to and also know that no one will listen to their complaints. House wives stand in long queues to get one bucket of water but it has become a part of their daily routine. Their food just takes care of their hunger not their nutrition.
They have clothes that are barely adequate to cover their bodies but not to save them from the weather especially during winters. It is not easy to inspire those people to send their children to school where all members of the family work for their bread and butter. Their first priority is food and if it is not fulfilled then there is no space for education. Their problems seem to be very basic and small that on seeing things from their perspective, I realize what exactly they are experiencing.
They don’t send their children to school because they go to work and their children have to take care of their siblings. Some of the parents did seek admission for their children, but their names were not written because they are not from the modern society of India. Some families even consider small location constraints such as whether their children would have to cross the road to attend the school, while other families aren’t even aware about the existence of the school.
Even if some of the children are going to schools, they are not treated well by other children only because of their status in the society. These problems seem to be very small but they are genuine. It is easy to donate 500 rupees and show responsibility towards those children but it is very difficult to give an hour and sit with them, listen to them and help them get a status in society, play with them on the weekend for just 2 hours.
So this is my question to every Indian, can India go to school? Can we reach a point where we can proudly say that no child is lacking basic education in India? There is a long way to go but we can’t reach our destination until we start from where we are now. We all need to understand that for making India a better literate country, we all need to come out of our comfort zone and feel the reality outside the four walls. Let’s join hands and make it a better place to work not only for us but also for those who are spending their lives not living. Let’s take the word “poverty” out of India’s dictionary.
“Let’s bring a smile to someone less fortunate than you”
SOIL BLP Class of 2012
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