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At night when candles burn

March 27, 2010

Why am I writing this and why should each and every one of you read this?

No, not only because half the girls and one-third of boys in India never attend the secondary schools, and I feel the need to showcase different organizations that are selflessly working towards helping them. I think it’s more because I felt the need to share with you something unique I discovered while looking for such organizations…

I have now spent more than 4-5 months looking for organizations that are deploying innovative solutions in order to provide education to poor (read: under-privileged, morally incorrupt people) and while doing so came across some highly passionate people and cool (read: interesting) concepts. About one week ago during one of the similar search on net, I came across a concept called Night Schools and Wow! I said, schools running during night, a beautiful concept. And the next question naturally was, who are running these schools and for whom?

So I started looking for more information and given below are the three broad facts that were subsequently discovered about such schools:

  • Night schools are for children who either are from slums or have recently moved from villages, and necessarily have to work during day time to earn their living. Now because they have to work in day time, through night schools they get opportunity to read after work.
  • Night schools are run by Government and are highly subsidized, where the children have to pay fees ranging anywhere from Rs. 8-10 a month.
  • Night schools are mainly for 8th to 12th class students and run from 8PM to 12 at night (for only four hours). Children in these schools cover syllabus in 4 hrs as compared to 6 hrs that their counterparts attending day schools take to do the same.

Well, for whatever reason, a skeptical person that I am, the idea though interesting did not fly with me. And the usual doubts I had in mind were: schools for children who work all day, so that they can read at night, however great idea it be, will not be able to attract to masses. This being for two reasons: (1) these children, aged 12-18, will definitely get tired making living all day, (2) they do not have no one to push them to study (most of them have their parents in villages).

So, I went to meet one of the only private organizations* (Masoom) recently started to help such schools in Mumbai and what I found was nothing less than startling.

150 schools in Mumbai alone with more than 15,000 children studying in them!

Wheew! And the first thing I wanted to do was to share these numbers with all of you and through you share it with even more people. There are 15,000 children in Mumbai alone, who work in day time and regularly visit these night schools to study. I think we all remember our school time 🙂 . My parents, especially my mother, spent most of their time thinking about how to instil the importance of education in me. Had it not been for my mother sitting there with her stick, I would never ever have done my homework in time (not that I always did).

And here there are 15,000 children, many of who work till 6PM or 7PM and then gather themselves to study. As I write this, I still wonder if this really happens?

*The private organization, Masoom, was started in 2006 and was founded by Nikita Ketkar, a civil servant who quit her job to start this. In 2001, during one of her visit to Mumbai, Nikita came across these night schools. What she observed was that these schools, run by govt., do not house basic facilities that a school ought to have, facilities like libraries, laboratories. Nikita observed that in most of these schools children were taught chemical reactions only on blackboards. Masoom, primarily was started as an initiative to provide support the night schools started by govt. and is doing a great job. They believe that with so many children willing to study, the number 15,000 can be scaled to a much higher figure by improving the condition of these schools and spreading awareness about them.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. March 27, 2010 07:19

    Reiterates the fact about how we take things for granted!


    • Consty permalink*
      March 27, 2010 17:41

      Yeah I think it helps in differentiating between education and training… only those who strive to get it, become educated in the end..


  2. March 28, 2010 01:59

    These kids are the best inspiration for the entire country… after working for the entire day in an airconditioned office, people find it difficult to come home and cook for themselves or do any work… and here are the children who do physical, tiresome work during the day and then actually put effort to go to school and study…I cant even imagine the zeal in these kids to study..


    • Consty permalink*
      May 15, 2010 15:54

      an inspiration for all of us i believe


  3. omoza permalink
    March 28, 2010 03:43

    Nice post !
    Hats off to these students… hope their hard work achieves wonders for India some day.
    And Cheeto is right , pity those white collar jobs who have it so easy in life and still find so many reasons to complain …


  4. Consty permalink*
    March 28, 2010 12:59

    @ Cheeto and Om – ha ha, yeah well we can pity us. I was looking at statistics, there are over 20 million child laborers in India (largest in world)… Only 20,000 today are getting opportunity to read at night…


  5. March 29, 2010 14:42

    Nice post.

    Ever considered taking up the civil services?


    • Consty permalink*
      March 29, 2010 14:50

      thanks! yeah did once upon a time.. but dropped the idea in 2nd year.. 🙂 i saw its difficult to bring a change being in civil services. people who want to generally drop out of it and do…


  6. Mahe permalink
    March 29, 2010 17:54

    kya baat hai dost machaye hua hai likh likh kar 😉
    thanks rahega yeh sab insights ke liye…


    • Consty permalink*
      March 29, 2010 18:29

      ha ha… tumhari insight ke liye hi to hai ye sab fight 😉


  7. Anahita permalink
    December 5, 2010 01:17

    Good blog, Amit. These kids are real inspiration.


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