Monday, February 13, 2012

How to give this child a better future?

Another OUT OF SYSTEM girl joins Kaliyuva Mane family as a resident scholar.

A few days ago, I received a call from one of my friend. He was recommending a girl for admission to Kaliyuva Mane. I was a bit surprised. Because he himself was running a free child care centre in city, recognised and supported by Government. He explained his helplessness. He had a problem in admitting the child. The girl’s father did not submit the required documents.

Next day father of the girl brought her to Kaliyuva Mane. He narrated his side of the story. His cup of woes opened. This is what I gathered from him. He is an illiterate. He earns around Rs. 150/- per day by carving out wooden dolls. He stays in a rented house at Kyatamaranahalli near Udayagiri Mysore. He has two daughters. His 14 years old girl has dropped out from the school. Unfortunately, 6 months before his wife left home and till date husband is unable to trace her whereabouts. He has lodged the complaint with the police.

Now, I will tell you little more about the girl in question, his second daughter. She is around 12 years young, dark complexioned. The girl was studying in 6th standard in a Kannada medium private school. Her father found it difficult to manage both the girls, financially and otherwise. So, since one week the girl is staying with her relative, not going to school. I asked Rajeshwari (our resident teacher) to take the girl out, talk to her gently and to gauge her educational standard, while I continued to engage the father in conversation.

After some time, Rajeshwari entered our office, ‘Spandana’ with a shocking and disappointed look on her face. The girl could not recognize the colours like rose, yellow, green and orange. Identification of left hand and right hand created chaos in her mind. She could only identify about 12 Kannada alphabets. Reading Kannada words of two letters was difficult for her. Two digits addition was beyond her comprehension. Her knowledge of English did not go beyond recognizing alphabets A to F.

The father’s face reflected anxiety and restlessness, whereas the girl was oblivious to all this and was smiling. I could empathize with the father, as many child care homes had rejected admission for the girl because one of the parent’s death certificate was a prerequisite for admission. Our teacher Kavitha filled in all the forms and the father signed on the dotted lines. I asked the girl whether she would like to join our school. She answered in affirmative. Father was relieved to know that the girl could join Kaliyuva Mane.

This morning, the father brought the girl again to Kaliyuva Mane and left her. She became a new member of Kaliyuva mane family. No tears, no visible feelings of separation! Vivek group children assured me that they would take care of her!

Now a lot of questions haunt me! What are the feelings of this little innocent girl? How educated parents would have reacted to her poor scholastic performance? Whether the ‘child is for the school’ or the ‘school is for the child? Is photo important or frame? Do our policy makers know the grass root level issues plaguing our education system? I have many questions for Mr. Kapil Sibal / Vishweshwar Heggade Kageri! But in a democratic country like ours, can a common man meet ministers?

But the most important question now for us is: ‘How to give this child a better future?

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