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Lessons Of The Real World And How They Got Me Marked Absent In Class: My Fight For Education

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By Spoorthi Pema:

As we grow up we are told about amazing ideas like freedom, democracy and equality, and as we mature, we are taught to expect these things from society, if not then we are to fight for it, no matter what. Today I am in that stage of my life, where I have to choose between fighting for these ideals or letting go of my principles for the sake of what society expects of me.

learning form real worldThe fact is that I have shortage of one day from the required attendance criteria of my university, and hence am required to repeat a year in order to be eligible for examinations. But, the question is whether wasting a year is just, for the sake of a rule that has long become irrelevant today, and whether the fact that I missed one class means I have lost my right to earn a degree for myself.

We still talk of traditional classrooms and education systems today, as a basic requirement to lead a decent living in the society. At the same time we also talk of how our country is in need of a mammoth change, without which all of society’s evils are going to be unheard, or rather heard and ignored. All historical changes that humanity has witnessed, has always come with fights and sacrifices.

I strongly believe that the change is to brought in into our education system, where the freedom to think, the right to question and the creative mind is not crushed in order to produce citizens ready to follow orders just for the sake of a monthly incentive called a salary. The fight against this train of thought has been my fight for the past three years in my college.

The time spent outside the traditional classroom, for which I have a shortage of attendance, has certainly been an unforgettable learning experience for me. The people that I have met have taught me tremendously, sharing real-life experiences and life lessons, rather than unrelated passages from an old rusty book. The time spent volunteering at the animal shelter and teaching at a local school has given me much more satisfaction and joy, even though it is of no value in the eyes of my college authorities. The examinations taken for the foreign languages I learn outside curriculum, the interviews I attend for fellowships with NGOs and the travels I endeavour in order to truly comprehend the real world, is all disregarded by the very education system that claims it creates ideal citizens with a potential to excel.

I have no degree in my hand now, yet I can confidently state that I am more educated and aware than those who have dutifully followed the norms of the university. I do not intend to look down upon all those who have unfaltering faith in a system, just because it has survived all this time, but I wish to voice out that all those old systems and beliefs need to be questioned and changed to fulfil today’s needs.

Instances of unfair treatment of women, corruption, bias based on caste, unfair public humiliation of students, misuse of power of the authority figures and bias based on status and bank balance, are all not uncommon to the everyday functioning of the college environment. I have stood up, most times alone, and voiced my disagreement for which not only have I been silenced but also slandered as a mere rebel and a ‘bad student’. The fact that I was alone most times is not because the students of the college don’t see what is wrong in the system, but it is because the system instils a fear in them that refrains them from exercising their freedom of speech.

I wish my grievances were tainted with motives of personal vengeance, but my fight is far greater than mere personal gains. The fight against a system whose priorities are misguided and in need of a complete transformation. If this fight means I lose a battle to earn a degree, then would it be right to let go of all my principles for the sake of a piece of paper stating the approval of the very system that I fight against.

It is most unfortunate that today the worth of a man is bluntly judged on the paper he owns, paper with either a university seal on it or with the picture of the Mahatma on it. The values, skills and the true education of a man is entirely disregarded. And to imagine how many great souls we must have disregarded, only for the simple reason that our system is faulty.

A system that feeds young minds with the idea that defeat of others is the success of the self. A student who competes for decades in the name of education, to be better than the rest of the class, and frowns upon those who ‘fail’, would obviously not be educated to be a part of a community that lays its foundations on mutual harmony. It is therefore not surprising that the students of this system are expected to confine themselves inside the four walls of the classroom, and those striving to contribute to the society are marked absent from class.

The very people who I trusted would impart knowledge and teach me all those tools I needed to be a part of the globalised world, are those who blindly feed this system. If I am rejected from this system, though I am to feel panic that I don’t hold a degree, I somehow hold the satisfaction that I have not become anything like the system.

You must be to comment.
  1. Neha Jha

    Absolutely right! My experience also says its all useless. Our education system doesn’t help us in the real world coz it is not connected with the real world. Go ahead with what you are doing..your fellow students will be surprised to see ur depth. That exposure helps..not grades or how good u were at school/college/university.

  2. puneet batra

    after years I’ve come across an article and a thought process of yours that i can so much relate myself to.
    I’d definately like tp follow up more of your works through available platforms. I couldnt agree more with your viewpoint. 🙂

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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