Raji, India and We :
Rajeshwari (fondly called as Raji) was 11 years young when she joined Kaliyuva mane. At the time of admission, she did not know how to spell the word, “English” and had committed more than half a dozen mistakes in three lines of Kannada writing. She was neither a school dropout nor a dyslexic. She had completed 6th standard and was going regularly to school. I wanted to know her aspirations. She uttered, 'DOCTOR'. I could not suppress my smile. I decided to make her at least a nurse.
But she went on to finish X standard in first class that too in English medium! This speaks volumes about her grit, steely determination and hard work. [Her detailed case study has been given at the end.] Raji's feat made Prof. Rame Gowda who sponsored her education happy. But Raji was adamant. She reiterated her wish to study medicine. I thought, she was overambitious. But she went ahead and joined NIE PU college taking PCMB as electives. Generous help came from Shashank, our volunteer who arranged her college fees. Now every weekend Azaruddin (our volunteer) and Raji come to Kaliyuva Mane. Azaruddin sits with her for several hours mentoring and tutoring her. He inspires me too! Even now I consider Raji overambitious and feel MBBS is Mt. Everest for her, but silently want her to become Edmund Hilary or Tenzing.
Raji raises many ‘if and buts’. If she had had the same quality(?) education of 2+6 years just like her urban counterparts from educated families, she would have definitely become a doctor. Who knows, even now she may pass PUC in flying colours and join MBBS. If she cannot, who is responsible? Raji or the system? Is Raji's a stray case? No, there are millions of Rajis in the villages of India. In fact, 51.8% of 5th standard rural children cannot read 2nd standard mother tongue text books as per the Annual Status of Education Report released by Dr. Kapil Sibal, our minister of human resources! (http://images2.asercentre.org/aserreports/ASER_2011/press_release_15jan_2011.pdf ) What about these children’s future? MBBS doctors refuse to serve one year in villages! Rather they prefer to pay a fine of ₹1,00,000/-. So what about the future of Indian villages where more than two third of Indians dwell? Finally what about the future of India as a whole? Though our constitution guarantees EQUALITY of status and of opportunity to all Indians, this has remained a distant dream even after 65 years of freedom.
We all love India. We celebrate Independence day. We respect national flag and anthem. We celebrate India's success in cricket. We rejoice when Indians win medals at Olympics. Divyadeepa wants to go beyond this token patriotism. We consisder every educated person with values as an asset to our country in particular and to the world at large. "Human capital is a vital ingredient in building a nation. Education is the passport to accelerated economic growth and is the key to build human capital" - Anon
So more Kaliyuva Manes ( to be precise, better models of Kaliyuva Manes ) functioning on the principle “School for children” should come up throughout the length and breadth of Indian villages and co-exist with the main stream schools which work on the principle “Children for school”. For that to happen, we should stabilize existing Kaliyuva Mane first. We should transform Kaliyuva Mane from individual model to institution model. Without indulging in any blame game we must go on to create a replicable model of education system for mentally sound children who find main stream schools inadequate.
Reasonably good infrastructure has been built. We need a school bus to ferry more day scholars, one more driver and more diesel month after month. During night we have lost two bicycles and an old scooter. So campus needs a compound wall and the residents feel secure. On positive side, more children friendly systems are evolving. We have taken up 3 years' rigorous Teacher empowerment programme'. Income generating units have to be established. Kaliyuva Mane should become financially self-sustaining.
Parallely efforts to get recognition for Kaliyuva Mane is going on. I personally met BEO. I have officially written to BEO requesting him to visit Kaliyuva Mane for inspection. But he is yet to respond. Today we are going to officially file application seeking recognition for Kaliyuva Mane. (to both DDPI and BEO) It took plenty of time for me to prepare a document of 160 pages. If they don't respond, we have to write to Education ministers. If not..................
So plenty of work to do! Millions of people have sacrificed their lives to give us political freedom. Now we have to free India from poverty and ignorance. Divyadeepa needs resources- both human and financial. Divyadeepa needs continued support from patrons, volunteers and well-wishers. We need more patrons, volunteers and well-wishers for this grass root level nation-building task. Whether you are a selfish person seeking your happiness in helping others or a spiritual person who consider work as body's best prayer to the Divine, you are welcome to associate with Divyadeepa.