Thursday, February 25, 2010

All it Takes is Aspiration

A few years ago, while I worked as a journalist, someone said to me that even though we try so hard, we cannot change the mindset of Indians towards education. That thought stayed in my mind and I discussed it with my Editor.

We decided to do a story, which simply put, focussed on Aspiration.

On the trail of the story, I met a Principal who in passing, mentioned that her 5 star International Baccalaureate (IB) school had a few students whose parents had never seen a school, let alone been to one. Picking up on that, we visited a tiny village in Haryana, where the scene was exactly as expected. A mother cooking the evening dinner at a chulha, the father smoking a hookah and enjoying his tea from a steel tumbler, cows and buffaloes let loose to graze and the house itself, an open, Zamindari bungalow passed down from one generation to another. The only difference their two children, studied in Class 1 and Class 3, at a private IB school where they paid a five figure amount for each child per semester. The reason, Aspiration. They did not want their children to grow up to be like them. The mother said, her daughter should eat 'Pijjas' not cook rotis on a chulha.

Next bit that stayed with me was the resolve of hundreds of students who leave their home far behind, travel to a metro to attend coaching classes, stay ten students to one tiny room in the back alleys of the metro and study through the night, all because they want to pass that competitive exam. All because they were the first ones in their village to go to school and want to continue achieving new firsts.

I did not have to look too far for case studies. At home, my domestic help worked and cooked at five different houses so she could have enough money to send her child not to a corporation school but to the private school in the neighbourhood. She took days off to attend parent-teacher meetings and made sure her child did her homework on time. Sure enough, results showed. Her child was in the top 5 of her class.

The idea of giving your child an education changes daily in India. Lots of factors come into play. For parents sending their children to small corporation schools it is about making sure their children get one hot meal a day. For others it is a simple way of making sure their children move up the social strata.

These may be small examples, but in their own small way they seem justified and a world of change from their predecessors.

Well, sometimes all you need is to open your eyes and believe what you are seeing in front of you.

(Rati Ramadas has worked as a reporter with NDTV for almost 4 years and covered education for the greater part of that. She loves writing short stories and hope to publish some someday.She blogs and rants about day to day life and travels at Odds and Mi)

Image Source : The Advocacy Project

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