At my home place, there is an aunty who has been working in our house for so many years that I don’t even remember when she actually started. Aunty cleans our house, washes our dishes and also cooks when my mom falls ill, or is otherwise unavailable. Even though she is just a paid worker, I have always been inspired by her. Her husband was a driver (as far as I remember) in the army and he died on duty. Aunty was really young at that time and had three girls and a 2-year-old boy to take care of.
She took on complete responsibility of feeding four children, knowing clearly well that survival wouldn’t be possible on a small pension from the government. She did not have any skills and thus, started working in other’s homes.
Now, after around 14-15 years, all her three daughters are well educated. The oldest of them is helping her husband in managing his shop, the middle one is a teacher and the youngest one is a trainer at a computer centre.
One day, while talking to me, she told me how everybody around her had forced her to get her daughters to do the same job as hers. People would tell her that if her daughters started working in homes and stopped studying, they could earn and save more money. But, being the brave-heart that she is, she turned a deaf ear to everyone and encouraged her daughters to get an education. Also, she was lucky enough to get be supported by all the households that she worked at.
But, the problem is that, not all parents are strong enough!
I see a common perception that the son of a doctor becomes a doctor, daughters of house workers become house-workers.
And in the process, many young students drop-out from their studies and start financially supporting their families at a young age. Government statistics, however, state that school dropout rates at primary levels have reduced from 5.6% in 2012-13 to 4.3% in 2014-15. A United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) report clearly mentions that there are still 47 million youths in India that drop-out by 10th class. And this eventually affects the enrolment at graduation level and for higher education. We need to understand that this is not a problem that is specific to rural areas, but is prevalent in urban areas as well.
I talked to several students who dropped out (I belong to a family of several government teachers). One of them had started working in the fields as a labourer along with his father. Another student dropped-out because his minimum qualification, of passing 10th class for a government job, had been cleared. Apart from these, some students simply didn’t have any motivation to study and their parents also wanted them to start earning money as early as possible. After talking to those students I understoof their side of the story, their own reasons.
However, another question rose in my mind. What if these students had done their graduation? Would they have been in a better position career-wise?
As common people, the least we can do is not belittle any parent’s efforts to support their children’s education. Even if we can’t afford to help them monetarily, we as educated people can provide them career guidance and tell them about the importance of education while making them feel positive about their efforts.
Students are easily influenced by their surroundings. If they are moulded in the right direction, they can definitely achieve greater heights in their lives. They need to be told about their future prospects. Apart from this, students can be told about the government schemes and loan availabilities. If the students are positively motiivated, a large number of them can prove to be valuable assets to the country.
I don’t urge anybody to donate money for others’ education. The government has already made plans for this, but yes, I will ask all the educated people to nurture an environment where people with lower incomes, or those working for them can be motivated towards their children’s education.