Monday, June 12, 2006

Sudama's children

Outlook has an article about posh schools in Delhi which have been forced (by a Delhi High Court order) to admit students from poor economic backgrounds. One of the statements in the article caught my attention.

"It has been a sheer privilege, the most satisfying thing I’ve done in my career," says nursery teacher Prachi Behl, who sources swimsuits for her wards in Sarojini Nagar, translates report cards into Hindi, replaces mango shake with nimbupani in a home activity sheet (to avoid the use of blenders) and figures out how to explain jelly, jam and porridge to kids who have no idea what they are.
Being middle-class or rich is not only about material comforts you can enjoy, but also the comfort level people have with consumer goods. On a different note, if we were to do an age-wise comparison, I would think children are the most conservative of human beings. Every child wants to fit in and there are times when fitting in means looking down upon someone else. Many of us have stories about never belonging to the cool set in school. I worry about these children, how they are going to survive emotionally, without having their spirits crushed, because they don't go on vacantion to Shimla and Kasauli and don't have chauffeurs dropping them off at schools.

Says Madhu Suri, a social worker and teacher who coaches children from the J.J. Bandhu camp, and got 15 of them into neighbourhood private schools, "There are two kinds of pain—the pain of growing up in a jhuggi with little hope of change, and the pain of adjustment in studying with well-off kids in a private school. How do we know which is worse?"
Public school system in India is in a state of disrepair and lots of money along with othe resources should be pumped into the system on a long term basis to lift it up. In the meantime (to paraphrase a feminist slogan) these children can't wait. Emotional well being ("am I happy/at peace here") is crucial for everyone, but more so when you are a child. I wonder how the schools are coping with this issue.

1 comment:

smita said...

fantastic post, hadn't heard about the HC order..thanks!