Twenty-seven children from the slums in Navi Mumbai, who were admitted to a civic school in Vashi about four months ago with the help of an NGO, have been working hard to change their destiny. In just four months, they have managed to complete their syllabus, which other students take an academic year to complete.
The efforts of the class teacher, who rigorously worked hard these four months to ensure these children get to learn together with other school children, is admirable.
It is recalled that the civic school in Vashi gaon had initially refused to take them admitted in the school fearing they will stop coming. But these slum children have not only proved them wrong but also learnt a lot in very short period. Initially, the school had segregated these slum children from other students and subsequently shifted to ETC centre and arranged a separate classroom for them. The school had given reason behind shifting them was the children were very week and needed separate attention. At that time, even a few education officials claimed that they would leave the school in midway. But these slum children showed a great enthusiasm and continued to come. However, a few children among them do not come to school regularly.
Subdha Shirke, the class teacher says about the students that many of them are good in Mathematics and do calculation very fast while a few of them persuade her to teach them something new. "They have learnt a lot in very short time and and showing a great enthusiasm to learn more," said Shirke.
The journey of these children began with the August Kranti, a non-profit volunteer teachers group that works among underprivileged children, who first taught them the basics alphabets and calculation. However, the NGO had objected of shifting children to ETC centre, saying that it is a violation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, that legislates against segregation. But the continued to teach them at the ETC building in Vashi.
Now, the NGO believes that the children should be shifted to normal school where they can get education with other school children. "The civic schools need to a few steps to ensure that these children should continue to come as few of them have stopped coming," said Kaval Katiza, founder member of August Kranti.
Katiza also fears that summer vacation might not prove spoiler for these children. "The summer vacation is a long period and if these children do not come to school for such a long period, they may stop coming once the school will reopen after vacation," says Katiza. She wants an alternate arrangement for these children so that the continuity of their coming to school should be not stopped. "I want that the education department needs to continue their schooling even during summer vacation and also try to cover up maximum part of the syllabus so that in the next academic year, they can sit in regular school with other children," added Katiza.