I’ve always asked myself, how does change happen? How can you possibly change the mindset of a whole generation? I’ve always had this realization that I come from a very privileged background. I’ve been handed everything on a plate. Of course, I have worked hard for it, but I’ve never had to fight for it.
Coming from a place like Kerala, where the literacy rate is higher than in all the other states in India, I’ve never had to have the awareness that ‘education is of utmost importance. My parents were always keen on both me and my brother studying and always gave that kind of importance to our studies. I went to a private school where we were given a good education and good opportunities. Currently, I’m pursuing History Honours from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University which is again a place where I’m provided with the best opportunities and where I’m allowed to thrive. I’ve always had the liberty to be able to choose whatever I wanted to do because my parents are super supportive of my choices. I’ve always had this liberty to aim for the moon because I’ve never known what it’s like to not have a meal for a day; I’ve never known what it’s like to not have a school to go to every day; I’ve never known what it’s like to never have to worry about having enough money to spend for my education; I’ve never had to live in poverty. My future is so bright. But, what about people who are not this privileged?
Recently, I went to Bihar as part of an internship I’m doing with Ed Justice Foundation and it completely changed my life. I went along with another volunteer to actually see and understand the situation of the Government schools in Katihar, Bihar. So, we boarded a train from Delhi on the 21st of September. We reached Katihar on the very next day and started our journey of visiting schools and colleges in the vicinity. Our first visit was to the Hari Shankar Nayak middle school. Here, we talked to the faculty and conducted a small session with the students to build a rapport with them. Later on, we roamed around the school to check out the infrastructure and amenities they have. What I was really amazed about by this school and its people was the spirit of enthusiasm that they carried. Even though the infrastructure was not up to the mark, they tried to make the best of the resources that they had. This was the only school that we visited where the principal and the faculty were super excited about us being there.
Soon, after visiting many other schools, I realized that not everybody is of the same attitude. Our visit to Mahila College is what really opened my eyes. The state of this college is so pathetic that I don’t think even if a child really wants to study that they will be able to study. The environment, both infrastructural and in terms of the environment created by the principal was truly saddening. The floors are broken, the roofs are breaking down, the benches and the desks are in a very poor state, there is no ample light in any of the rooms, the toilets are completely flooded and totally not usable, there are labs but they are in a very bad condition and looks like they haven’t been used in years. We talked to a few students over there and understood that students do not come to college at all. What we understood was that there is a communication gap between the teachers and the students; the teachers told us that the students don’t turn up when they take classes and the students told us that the teachers don’t take classes so they don’t come to college. This was a really devastating experience for me.
Going to Bihar not only made me realize the kind of privilege that I have, but it also gave me more motivation to work hard to bring changes to this society. It instilled in me a fire to give back to society with the privilege that I have. It made me understand the value that good education and a good environment hold in the lives of people. I alone may not be able to move mountains but together, I believe, we can do it. Therefore, I urge all of you to do whatever you can with the privilege that you have. I urge you to work with us in building a future for these students. Every child has the right to get educated and it is our duty as a society to make sure that they get the best education possible. Let us create a space for them where they are able to fly.
Dreams, should they only be for the privileged?