an impossible dream or perhaps not....

In the wake of the reservation issue and keeping in mind the abysmal state in which education for the less privileged is, many questions come to mind. Today's paper published a report on India's capital city which states that over 100 000 children in the age group 6 to 10 do not go to school. These are kids for which doors closed before they could open.

Then the question one could ask is who is the reservation for, when no one seems bothered about a huge section of the children of India.

Instead of thinking of basic education, the powers that be are busy placing quotas in institutes of high learning.

I am convinced that each one of these 100 000 kids is a potential entrant to the best institution, if given a chance no matter what label our divisive society choses to stick on his face. Force majeure made us find a boarding school for Utpal whose labels are quite fuzzy. His alcoholic mom hit rock bottom and had to be sent for a detox programme, and his 'father' just vanished.

Utpal goes to a boarding school where he shares his dorm with children coming from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. He has integrated and learns happily with his little mates, rides a horse, plays games, sings along and does what kids his age should do. All doors are opened for him and as years pass he will walk through the ones he choses and could become anything from a rocket scientist to a choreographer!

My impossible dream is to take 10 underprivileged kids age 4, belonging to various deprived groups , castes and creed and put them in school and watch what happens when they sit for their class XII. Unfortunately I do not have the funds to do so as it would cost around 4000 rs a month for each child - not a huge amount when you see what it gives and one compares it to what one spends on a child in a city like Delhi.

One needs a corporate of philanthropist to set aside the corpus that would revert back at the end of the education cycle. The common school is a pipe dream because of bizarre misconceptions, or rather because of a warped status symbol syndrome. The young principal of Utpal's school was initially a little hesitant, but a short week after Utpal's admission he was the one to send me a message telling what a great kid he was!

It is time someone thought of giving underprivileged children all the support they need in schools till the day we can have the elusive common school. The children of India have waited 60 years or 3 generations in the hope that something will happen. How much longer will they have to wait.

One has to understand that is is not separate schools, or parallel education programmes that will solve the issue, India will find its identity when children of all walks of life learn to live together, respect each other and learn from one another.

Children have a great way of adapting to situation and imbibing new ways.. it is our duty to give them that opportunity, till date we have failed to do so.. how many more generations will have to wait for us to see the light.

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