When a young mother approached with a request to help her daughter, it appeared to be a very simple task. But the more we tried to help her, the more it got entangled. It is a case of a small young girl with the kind of problem which is very common in this post-corona phase. Her parents have a strained relationship so her mother sought the help of her parents. She now stays with her parents and is separated from her husband for some time now.
The son is enrolled in a school nearby and is really happy going to school and following the majority of online classes. But the girl felt uprooted and was not ready to stay with her mother. She almost completed the fifth-grade classes when the first lockdown changed the entire picture. Her mother joined her parents taking the first opportunity when all were allowed to move with some restrictions. But the girl couldn't adjust to this new situation. Finding the first opportunity she went to her father. There was no facility to attend the online classes and father too is an alcoholic. Grandmother looked after the child for some time but gradually she realized that it was difficult to take care of the child, so the grandmother sent the girl to her aunt who lived in a small village. Now there was no facility for online classes, and neither was the girl interested in it. Time passed and the aunty again brought her back to her mother.
Now started mother's efforts to enroll her in some school as she doesn't want her to be almost illiterate like her. Mother is working in a house help but certainly wants her daughter to complete her school education. With this started a series of difficulties.
The child had lost touch with school for almost two academic years and probably has lost all the scholastic skills. Her mother thought she should be enrolled in the sixth standard, so she would be able to learn and cope well. But her age was suitable for the eighth standard. Her earlier school recommended she be enrolled in the eighth standard. The new school too couldn't help with this issue.
The problem persisted. As per government norms, admission to the school is to be given as per the age of the child. With ADHAR card attached, age-appropriate admission is mandatory.
There are many such cases where the children missed the school for last two years, many are like new entrants. Most of them lost all interest in the scholastic activities. How could they be expected to abridge the gap? Schools are suggested to focus on this and help children to cover the concepts. But bridging the gap of two years can't be done in a couple of months even with the maturity of age.
Would this girl be able to match the eighth standard syllabus covering two years' gap? Can some other pattern be developed? The major problem is of loosing interest in the academic activities? May be she would be declared fail in the nineth standard. May be she would be given an opportunity to appear for the tenth exam. Would it provide her the set of skills she is supposed to acquire?
Whether she gets through the exam or not, she has to develop some skills to support herself to earn her livelihood. Should something not be designed for such students? The education department is working onthis point. But these children need to be encouraged to be a part of our formal education system too. Creating awareness and motivating students to face the challenge is equally essential.
Of course, school education is absolutely essential. But there is a broad band of people who have different abilities. They do not follow the path of academics. Neither do they have the strength to invest a long time in professional degrees. The number may be really huge. They are building blocks of our society. They need to have meaningful roles , so they ought to be trained in a number of ways. Their energy is to be chanellised to be able to develop livelihood. This would render stability to society and many needs of society would be fulfilled appropriately. We need to create awareness that no skills are superior or inferior. We ought to have an inclusive system which will provide a role to everyone , a society is like an organism where all have interdependent roles to play.
This reminds me of a cooperative store manager who was an eighth standard pass smart woman with a small stature but exceptionally sharp mind and a person of high moral values. She managed the rice sale for a month where the sale of rice used to be more than a lac per day some 25 years ago. Now it runs in crores. Now she manages the purchase of the entire store in the wholesale market. One finds many people who work very efficiently but are not trained for the particular role. A society requires a variety of people for many types of roles which are very essential in a Social set up. One hardly finds formal training for many types of jobs. Employers identify candidates with some qualities and train them on job or through proper training. Industries need to invest in training the employees too. They should be in a position to ask for the trained personnel.
Any system works like a pyramid where the base is broader to it's top. Many smaller systems work as a foundation to a bigger system so that it functions smoothly and doesn't collapse.
At present, the educational system doesn't provide such opportunities. Maybe the new educational policy would help to build such structure. These working hands and creative minds can't be ignored. Rather a system that accomodates all in a positive way has to be built which would provide a solid foundation to our nation.