As a recent graduate of high school, I am a perfect example of someone that takes education for granted. I wanted to share a video that I came across that really changed my perception.
Often times, we find ourselves in a wrut with school. We are fed up with class, homework, teachers, grades, stress, etc. and we live for the weekend or the next break. We can’t wait to get away. I think that many high school students in America absolutely hate the thought of waking up early through out the week, and despise spending seven hours in the classroom. Plenty of us has heard the “I can’t wait to graduate” or “I hate school.” After twelve years of it, I woke up to the mantra every morning.
But, how many times do we really sit back and say, “Wow…what I learned today was awesome, and I am so lucky.” I’m sure it’s been a few years since you’ve ran home screaming “Guess what I learned today!”
What we tend to forget is that we should be grateful. We are lucky to be in a country, society, community, and family that value education so much that it has become one of our rights to learn.
We spend a lot of class time complaining, whining, using boring classes as “nap times”, whining, and not taking it seriously. We tend to forget that learning is an opportunity that is, essentially, handed to us, and this video is such a great reminder.
Rajesh Kumar is a shopkeeper by profession but spends hours every morning teaching around 80 children from the poorest of the poor in India’s capital. He visited the construction of the Delhi transit station and was disturbed by the sight of many children playing at the site instead of attending school. When he questioned the parents working at the sites they all said there were no schools in the vicinity and no one cared.
Consequently, his open-air class room was born – between pillars and beneath the tracks of the Delhi transit system, known as the Metro. Every few minutes a train passes above, the children unperturbed by its sounds. There are no chairs or tables and the children sit on rolls of polystyrene foam placed on the rubble. Three rectangular patches of wall are painted black and used as a blackboard.
Rajesh tells Sky News anonymous donors have contributed cardigans, books, shoes and stationery for the children, as their parents cannot afford these basics. One unnamed individual sends a bag full of biscuits and fruit juice for the pupils every day – another incentive for the children to turn up for their studies. It is not a formal platform, but these free classes provide a foundation to children of the most deprived.
Rajesh says: “It’s most important to inspire these children to study and give them an opportunity of an education. “I will be fortunate even if two out of 20 study further. I will feel satisfied that I contributed to their future generations.” He says proudly that he had 140 pupils a few months ago. While some were admitted to a government school, a few never showed up due to the nature of their parents’ work. In his experience, these children have a hunger to study if encouraged. They need support from society and a means to achieve it. “No money can buy the respect and gratitude that I get from these children and their parents. That’s all that I want,” he says.
Babu Lal, 72, is a menial farmer who lives on the edges of society and sends his grandchildren to the school. He and his 10 family members barely make ends meet. But because their fields are on the flood plains of the river Yamuna, for many months they have been unable to produce anything due to the flooding.
He says: “I don’t want them to be like me an illiterate. I’m ashamed of it. They must read and write and make a better future for themselves. I’ve lived my life not being able to sign my name but I want these children to change that.”
India has a dismal record in providing standard education to the millions of its children in government schools. The Annual Status of Education Report for 2012 suggests the quality of education in rural India is at crisis point.A lack of infrastructure, substandard teaching and government negligence has resulted in a cumulative decline of education over the years.
The report noted that the “guarantee of education is meaningless without satisfactory learning.” “There are serious implications for India’s equity and growth if basic learning outcomes do not improve soon,” it added.
It is the children of the poorest who suffer.If they are not brought into mainstream education soon enough, there will be a section of society that will remain chained by deprivation for generations.