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The last couple of months have brought a great deal of pain, suffering and death. The bitter truth is that we have to learn to live with the memories of our loved ones lost to the lethal virus and the apathy and inefficiency of the governmental machinery.
However, just as every new day augurs the hope of the pandemic weakening its hold and the grim situation easing out, we as Indians now need to work towards strengthening the foundations of our beloved country. The time to depend on our leaders to deliver is over. It is now up to the common man to step out of his comfort zone and walk an extra mile to make this nation great.
In the last one year, a very large number of our students from the poorer strata have had no access to online teaching and have not moved ahead in their pursuit of academic achievement. These are the very children who had already been left behind by the existing unfair and unequal education system. These are the children born to parents who have never been to school themselves. Thus, home schooling for them is a far off dream. This chasm has now been magnified many times by the pandemic
Education is an important means for a family to move up the ladder of economic and social well being. As more families fall off this ladder now, it is bound to promote a breeding ground for chaos and societal turmoil. The better offs, the more fortunate Indians, no longer have the luxury to procrastinate and let status quo play out. The reality that stares us in the face is what we as a nation need to do for those children whose options are limited to either abysmal quality of education or no education at all. When I speak of education I do not merely mean the 3 R’s, but an education regime which includes the cultivation of a questioning and analytical mind.
A small thing many of us can do is to volunteer our services to help the less fortunate ones to get decent education. This can be done either by contributing to committed NGO’S or even better, by personally adopting a few children and monitoring their academic progress. A personal touch will not only ensure quality education but also bring about a glimmer of hope and happiness in their lives. As for the children between the age groups of 3 to 6 years, maybe different housing societies can start the culture of a “paathshaala under a tree”. This would take care of the small children who are left unattended to their own device in their shanties since the parents have to go to work. These children can also be given a decent mid-day meal, as good nutrition is essential to the development of the mental faculties. Let every educated family take the pledge to educate at least one less fortunate child.
Practically every middle class household has domestic help coming for a limited time during the day. Sadly, the only relationship we develop with them is that of an employer and an employee and getting the work done to our satisfaction is the only goal. Leaving aside some notable exceptions, the human touch and empathy is by and large missing. We need to rise above our narrow vision, look at their problems, educate them on social issues like their children’s education, women’s rights, health and hygiene etc. Let us make them feel that they are important to us as fellow human beings. Maybe we can even encourage the house help to read and write and initiate him or her into the world of basic education, which will further have a trickledown effect on their next generation. That would be a small but critical step in putting our country on the path of complete literacy.
We must remember that as a nation, we will prosper only when the darkness of illiteracy is completely wiped out and when all Indians will have holistic and affordable education accessible to them. Pragmatically speaking, I do not envisage a utopian world where all will enjoy the same level of prosperity, education and other comforts of life. There will still be the rich and the not so rich and also the poor. There will still be those who will get their education in the Ivy League institutions and others who may not even get a chance to go to college. But let there be none who will not be able to at least read or write even his or her own name or the basic road signs. One day, every Indian will be educated and will become the proud vanguard of a brighter and smarter India.
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