The Ultimate Game-changer for the Persevering Souls
After being blessed with a second girl-child, when my mother held me in her arms as a new-born, all she thought of was that the biggest tool she could gift me to fight the odds of life was a decent education. Little did she know that this was going to be a herculean task. I was sent to an English convent school along with my elder sister for my primary education. I was in the second grade when communal violence erupted in our region. My worried father applied for our admission to a local school with poorest teaching standards near our home. By then, the riots had abated and the region was limping back to the normal. But my father’s rigid stance was hard to break. This left my mother crestfallen who was reliving her dream of education through her girls. She kept on coaxing my father to rethink over his decision. Finally he yielded and we were shuffled back to the old convent. During my high-school years, I started disliking the current school due to the scarcity of good teachers and deteriorating academic environment. “I am through with this school. The syllabus, the faculty suffocates me,” I blurted out to my parents. The endless toil I used to put into my study hours after school, slogging under the dim light of oil-lamp surrounded by swarm of mosquitoes made them buy my point-of-view.
For the first fifteen years of my life I had lived with my family in a town where supply of electricity was pathetic. All these years it never occurred to me that kids in this world have access to bright light on dark evenings.
A better school meant family-relocation. We were aiming at one of the best school of Eastern India and getting there was tough. Being not a local applicant made it tougher. It took two years and countless parents’ visits to the school head-office that I was finally called in for the written test. By grace of Almighty, I cracked it and got admitted. This school took brilliant care of my studies till I graduated from the senior high-school. Hailing from a conservative background, it took quite some time to convince my father and his family to allow me to move to New Delhi for my higher studies. This was financially and emotionally taxing decision for my parents. For her peace of mind concerning security, my mother moved along with me to see me through. Had not been for her sacrifices, higher education wouldn’t be possible for me.
Calling education a fundamental right is one thing and exercising this very right as a girl in developing country is another, as one has to overcome many hurdles one after another. Despite of coming from a well-educated family, I had to fight battles at home turf to assert my right to good education. How hard it must be for my other counterparts belonging to the underprivileged sections.
At school, we did a literacy survey of the rural population exploring the reasons for the abysmally low attendance rates of female students in government schools. “My daughters are the natural nannies of the babies in the family and take care of the domestic chores. Who will vouch for their safety as they commute to and fro from the school?,” retorted one of the women during the survey. Many were of the opinion that education would pollute their daughters and make them disobedient. These responses reflect the regressive mindset that hasn’t changed much even after years later. Female education in rural India remains a distant dream for many and so does the women empowerment. Impediments in achieving an absolute female literacy are many.
i.) High population growth leads to unequal distribution of scarce resources among sons and daughters in
ii.) Cultural sanctions imposed on females keep them confined within the domestic boundaries
iii.) With rise in gender-based crimes, safety concerns keep many girls away from attending school
iv.) Absence of motivation and guidance from family and community
To micro-manage the dire need of education among the downtrodden women, my school’s initiative of each one teach one has proved effective. Here, each educated individual takes the responsibility of educating an illiterate female besides contributing in cash/kind to an education fund dedicated to providing them with other utilities.
The first and foremost war that a female fights on route to her education is in her mind. To overcome the “ifs” and “buts” that society places on her head is not easy. To endure the insecurity of people around her about her declaration of attaining intellectual freedom demands perseverance of highest degree. Once these mental barriers are crossed, the physical ones appear scalable. “Where’s the will, there will be a way”.