After why, what - that is the question.. almost a Shakespearian one..
Six years down the line we have successfully proved that with a little effort and local resources, drop out rates can be contained and children can pass their Boards. True that we have some students who cross the 70 and even 80 % line, but they are the exception; most of them hover around 50 and some even dip lower..
This is the time of the year when the famed or ill famed cut off marks are out. One stares with despair at the 92 and 93 % marks you need to enter a good college and wonders where does that leave children of lesser gods..
Evening colleges, correspondence courses, open universities... Most again leaving the students idle for part of the day, bearing the brunt of parental pressure urging them to work..
This has been disturbing us as school education in India is totally devoid of technical options. In many countries, weaker students are urged to take a technical stream that ensures that they leave school with a certificate and a skill. In France there is even a stream called bac en alternance where the student spends three days in school and the other three learning a trade: working as a sales person in a shop, training in a kitchen, working with a carpenter and so on...
After much thought we have decided to start evening and week end classes in plumbing, electrical works, air conditioning repair, computer repair, carpentry, tailoring, accupressure and naturopathy, beautician etc using local talent. If we are able to do so we would even think of launching - call pwhy - whereby we would offer these skills in a well organised way to friends and others.
Another option that we plan to start, and one where our special section can also play an important role is providing packed lunches and diners to offices and young people living alone. This would also provide work to handicapped people with tricycles as they would be able to deliver them and thereby earn a dignified living.
These are but a few options we have thought of, the mainstay being that children would acquire a skill that would come handy in their lives. We are looking for other ideas, but given our past errors, when we jumped and made things and did not find outlets, we only want to launch a new idea if there is a market to support it.
One must realise that a simple education is not enough; we are duty bound to give our children the required skills to be able to survive..
The myth of government jobs has to be destroyed, and children taught that nothing comes easy.. But if you have the will then the way is there as young Sanjiv has proved. He chose to learn yoga, accupressure, shiatsu and other massage and many alternative forms of healing while doing his studies (week end classes at Gandhi smriti) even if his peer group made fun of him and today earns a whopping 7 to 8 K and has a motorcycle. He is learning English with us and we hope to get him clients from the expat community.. Sanjiv did much more than survive just because he chose to walk an unknown path that a kind soul showed him with his head held high..
Can we convince others to do the same becomes the next existential question.