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School Education in India: Where Is The Light?

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By Rohit Kapoor:

14 years, approximately 240 days per year and an average of 5 hours per day, that’s an astronomical 16,800 hours that each individual commits to the school premises for the cause of his education. The numbers only allude to the bigger picture that during these 14 years, the child and family’s lives revolve singularly around this theme. Indeed, for many couples, family planning is preceded by financial planning to ensure that they have the requisite resources to provide their kids with the best education.

Waking up at 5:00 am, awakening the little angels, bathing them, feeding them and getting them dressed up to be dropped off to the school with an affectionate kiss. This is the regimen followed cheerfully by mothers in the hope that their child will gain the pearls of wisdom and that education will open up new vistas for him to make a mark in life.

Alas, the life in the hallowed school premises is not so rosy. The child soldiers goes on through the classes, guided by the overtone, “If you study well in school, get good marks then your future is bright”. He revels in the company of friends who are his compatriots through the mental and emotional grind. His innate curiosity occasionally flickers to produce tiny marvels of creative expression until eventually the overtone consumes his mind and he exchanges the cold comfort of treading the elders’ path in favor of reasoned questioning. His voice silenced by a crass remark from the teacher or her indifference.

By standard 8th, his imagination is rekindled with an illusion of career options and available streams such as commerce, engineering, medicine or arts but sadly, the choice has already been made. He is carefully steered into a “safe” career choice which typically means engineering or medicine. What follows are four to six years of brutal competition aided by mushrooming coaching institutes which makes you wonder if these teenagers are undergoing military training. The scars of battle are many and the wounds sometimes so deep that a few recourse to giving up on life, unable to handle the burgeoning pressure of school, coaching and competitive exams.

For the survivor, it hardly matters which institution he lands up with and what course he pursues for it is solace enough that he made it into college. How would it have made a difference when the biggest choice of his life was not of his choosing? Perhaps more pertinently, when he was never equipped with the free thinking required to experiment, to flounder and then discover his passions.

The next task at hand is to land a good job by getting the magic combination of good academics and extra-curricular activities. Hobbies and interests are frantically cultivated to primp up the curriculum vitae. People hoard certificates and participate in a mad rush culminating to the coveted job. A few years down the line, on a lazy Sunday evening he reminisces and asks — “Was it the best education after all?” The question lingers on until it is rendered inaudible by the humdrum of daily life.

“Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man” – Swami Vivekananda had said.

Let us explore the possibility that one day our education systems shall evolve to help each child discover and actualize his innate potential. That the sparks of curiosity will not be extinguished by the perpetual pressure to succeed. That the prevalent rat race to nowhere shall be superseded by a memorable journey unfolding the wonders of the world. Let us hope!


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  1. Mohita

    Agree with the author here… very less is the child given a chance to steer his own life.. the course is decided at an early stage itself.. not to be surprised if parents announce that just after his birth :P.. and the poor innocent soul is put into the wild steeplechase before he is even aware of the world around him..

    Every child is special in his/her own way and it is important that this is understood and the potential properly channelised..

  2. manoj kumar,BHU

    Their’s no doubt that status of primary educatuion is so worst in india.firsttly we decide to what do we want quality or quantitity???on the one side primary education is the the backbone of higher education. as prominent personality says that education is the backbone of any countries economic the same time according to report MHRD finds that approximately43TH out of 5LKH in the TET examination conducted by CBSE.what it means ???the answer i.e they ‘re not perfect on the teaching norms.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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