After writing my civil services mains examination, I was filled with extra ordinary energy and vigor to work in social sphere. I was excited and it was the result of my efforts that I was able to engage in child education issues around my neighborhood. Apart from conducting teaching sessions in the most backward slum zones of luck now, I was able to initiate teaching classes for children belonging to such vulnerable communities at my home premises. Today is the last day of this innovative venture and I write this article after having successfully admitted those students in the nearby govt. schools.
Before I begin to elaborate upon my experiences, I would like to clarify that this article is not an attempt to glorify my efforts/initiative. It is just an attempt to share my experience and lessons learnt out of the initiatives.
# What India needs?
Zeher Ali, a young studious and well mannered boy has been living in slum for nearby 5 years. Initially he was a resident of Assam but owing to lack of employment opportunities his parents landed up in Lucknow under the so called migration wave. However, belying the expectations of pre arrival, Zeher Ali’s parents finally landed up in menial job of waste collection. Zeher Ali has been happily dedicated towards his parent’s job and supports them in waste collection. Even though he is well versed with English, mathematics and other theoretical terms owing to his initial education in Assam, he finds himself in a community imposed vicious cycle which restricts any efforts towards attaining education.
My effort in the entire initiative was just to act as a mediator. I took the courage of moving to these backward regions and indulged in personal interaction with the parents of such children. Consistent exercise of interacting and mentoring such children over a period of two to three weeks made me earn the faith of the people of this region. Post which I shifted the entire teaching sessions to my home premises witnessing timely and eager participation of young minds. I did not offer them and freebies nor did I gave them any stationary yet they remained highly motivated just owing to the methodology of teaching.
Our country is in the dire need of similar initiatives. We have restricted ourselves in small cocoon and we relent on moving outside this safe zone. We are afraid of the consequences and hence remain reluctant of taking bold steps. But the secret to success ultimately depends in coming out of own safe zone. Just imagine what the rate of development that India can achieve if we can ensure educational attainment of children lingering around our neighborhood.
# Key Lessons Learned
- Working on social issues does not demand a very high IQ but it demands a significantly higher amount of patience, EQ, compassion and inner will power to rectify the issues being faced by vulnerable communities.
- The present plight of vulnerable communities is the result of exploitation being faced over successive generations. Therefore expecting that they are instantly going to respond to your call will not be justified. Consistent engagement and winning the confidence of local community remains at the heart of social transformation.
- Education is not about teaching ABCD or 1234. It is more about opening the minds and infusing the element of critical thinking. Such an attitude can be only infused by participative classroom where views of children are given equal weight age. It remains of utmost importance for teachers to freely mingle with students and weed out their inner hesitation.
- Fourthly, no one likes to be criticized. Yes, it is true that we all have our weaknesses but rectifying them demands a totally different approach. Focus should be towards motivating individual child and using role models for inspiring the entire group. Instead of criticizing any child on his flaw he must be motivated to follow the footsteps of his neighbor who has scored well in the same subject.
- Finally education is not a single stage activity. Difficult concepts can be easily ingrained inside minds of children if taught at regular intervals.
# Relevance of Education in Current Context
“Make in India” initiative has grabbed the interest of investors, manufacturers, policy makers and multiple other eager Indian citizens. However, as it has been pointed out in Economic Survey that the demographic dividend that we have been cherishing for now has emerged to be double edged sword. We do have significant proportion of population under working age class but the proportion of educated individuals in the said domain remains marginal. For moving upwards along the growth trajectory India needs educated and trained labor force which we find missing in current context.
Thus Education remains of utmost importance. It not only improves the current economic, social and psychological condition of individual but also empowers the entire community at large. Finally taking cue from efforts of Shri Om Prakash Choudhary (IAS) for his efforts towards child education in chattisgarh, I would like to name the title of this final article under Project Vision as “Sapnon ki Udaan”. For this bunch of kids the real journey of life has just started.