Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Where is the school for this deprived child?

30th May 2013 - A child joined Kaliyuva Mane as a resident scholar - 12 years young – No parents - rural background - Staying with his illiterate grandmother - Due to inherent dislike for structured studies, rote learning and lack of parental guidance, the boy had dropped out of Kannada medium rural school after 3rd standard –  came to know about two school dropouts from his village, continuing education after passing SSLC in English medium  – One of his well-wishers brought him to Kaliyuva Mane – A desire to learn, which was hitherto latent in him has surfaced NOW.
There are orphanages for him.   Even that is doubtful.  For admission, death certificate of one of the parents is a must.  But where is the school for him?  RTE Act ensures admission into schools for all the children below 14 years.  But does it ensure learning?   It is a challenge for Kaliyuva Mane to build his future.  Keep him happy, motivate him to study, start teaching from scratch,….     
Kaliyuva Mane has not only implemented RTE Act in spirit, but has gone beyond RTE.   It is an irony that Kaliyuva Mane lacks recognition from the Education department.   Forget about Government support, often its rules and regulations have become stumbling blocks for Kaliyuva Mane.   We are buying 24 seater school bus for ferrying school dropouts, first generation school goers and children labelled as ‘slow learners’ from far off villages.  Because our education system is not recognized, we have to pay 40 times more road tax!   We have to run pillar to post to get documents such as study certificate and rural certificate.   
DDPI has come to our school and has left this remark in the guestbook, “The school premises were very pleasant”.    On 29th December 2012, Block education Officer, Mysore Rural visited Kaliyuva Mane.  He was happy and has left the following remark in our guestbook, “Good learning environment exists. The method of teaching considering not only the age, but the lacunae in learning, is really special here.”   The Karnataka Government, labour department has carried a 4 page article on our alternative school, ‘Kaliyuva Mane’.  

We have filed an application seeking recognition for Kaliyuva Mane.   But BEO feels, there is no space in the education system for innovative/alternate thinking.  It is only a prerogative of the Government.   Finally he has agreed to forward our letter to the Commissioner – Education.   Democracy means Government of the people, by the people and for the people! – only on paper!

As a last resort, in November, I tried to meet the then education minister, Mr. Kageri  Vishweshwara Hegde.  I got his number from the net.  Dialled the number, felt so happy to hear the voice of his personal secretary.  I requested for an appointment with the education minister and got immediately.  Next day, i.e. on 26-11-2012  at 4.00 am I boarded the Bangalore bus.   I was the first one to sit in front of Kageri’s room waiting.   By 8.45 am the room door opened.  We were let inside.  There were about 20 people waiting to meet him.  I was allowed inside.  I started off the conversation, “Namaskara, we are running a school…….”  I was interrupted by his impatient voice,   “What do you want, tell me fast”   I wanted at least 15 minutes to articulate about Kaliyuva Mane.    The best thing I could do was to invite him to our school.  Unfortunately, God forgot to give me the ‘Gift of gab’.  I am not blaming the education minister.  He must have been very busy on that particular day.   I am blaming the system.  At least he could have had a secretary who could devote adequate time to solve common man’s problems.

I am neither rich nor politically connected.  I am neither a cricketer nor a film actor.   I am a low profile common citizen.   I know how difficult it is to meet local MLA for a common citizen like me?  So the system has to be changed for better participation of the common citizen in the governance of the country.  When?, How?,  are the million dollar questions!

Ananth Kumar – First volunteer