Education – A national priority

If you have ever made a journey to somewhere by the Indian railway, you would have definitely come across them.

Who “them”?

Just look out through the railed window. Amidst the beautiful scenery, acting a treat to the eyes, there will be these innocent little kids, semi-naked, whose wide infectious smile will catch onto you.

What are they doing there?

They probably belong to the families that live in temporary shacks near the railway lines. When a train passes by, they run along with it and wave at it with utmost glee such that you will be urged to wave back at them, though they’ll be visible just for a fleeting glance. They would do the same when they see an airplane in the sky too.
In a few moments you snap back to the reality when your mind asks. “If waving is all that they do throughout the day, when do they go to school?” Ah! Do they?

Right then, when your smile has just faded you would come across another pair of them to grieve you further. They are two ragged and dirty kids, probably siblings, hardly of 4-5 years of age begging you for however little money/food you can bless them with. They are struck with poverty, fight for food and shelter, and certainly no education!

These are just small instances of the many issues our country is suffering from right now. There are thousands of children around our nation who are somehow deprived of such an important amenity – basic primary education. And they say children are the future of our country. Isn’t it required that these delicate seeds of our future be groomed with as much privileges as can be gathered for them to avail instead of being thrown cruelly to be a part of the mad rat chase for bread and grain from such a tender age. Upon realizing this, we’ll feel lucky to be blessed with the life that we are leading and a helplessness wondering how we could at least do our bit and participate in the massive social growth in terms of education that India badly needs right now.
We have read a lot about the illiteracy ratios of our country and yet more about the reasons for it. Despite a lot of policies by the government in order to promote education, the benefits somehow fail to reach the deprived. The real need of the hour is not to sit back and complain about the system but “Be the part of the change you want to witness in the society”. It is high time we think of ways we can reach out to the people and be of help.
These are some of the steps that we as aware citizens can take to help in the literacy growth of our society:-
• We cannot help the poor if we ourselves have nothing with us. In the same way, to help unprivileged people move towards education, firstly we should consolidate our knowledge base. Only then will we be wise and able enough, in a position to help others.
• The most evident problem is lack of awareness. Many people who have not been exposed to the world of education consider it to be insignificant as compared to working and earning money for survival. They would prefer their children to give a hand and reduce their burden of labor than take a little more pain with patience for a few more years till the child is wise and literate enough to provide them with a better life style. Such issues can be addressed with campaigns – radio and television commercials, street plays or such other ways. Talking to them personally and addressing their woes patiently can be an effective way too.
• Each one of us, however good a lifestyle we may lead, is surrounded by a child who is under privileged as compared to us. Be it the child of the Shanti mausi who comes to do our households or the apprentice of our newspaper guy or the chai wala chhotu who wakes us up from boredom every day. Why not take up at least one child our self and help them in their studies, if not financially then at least with the moral support that they never got. There are a lot of schools aided by the government that provide free education. Setting them up to go to a school will only take some amount of persuasion. The quality of education might be compromised but at least it is better than not having primary education at all! Each one with one on their side would gradually reach everyone.
• Spread it! Knowledge shared is knowledge increased. Help others out if you find them stuck, be it your friends or someone you know or be it anyone. Lost interest is one of the major reasons to bring about a stop to student life. We would find little kids complaining to go to school when they are not able to cope up. The real poor ones at once stop going to school if anything as such happens. There- the end! So help people out, as much as you can.
It is high time that we came together hand in hand to be a part of this small educational revolution. Because, quoting Henry Steele Commager, “Education is essential to change, for education creates both new wants and the ability to satisfy them”.

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