By Ishrath Parveen:
Growing up, I belonged to a family that is considered ‘completely economically backward’. My father was a seasonal employee, and providing for the household and paying for my education was a big challenge for him. At times I had to stand outside the class and was not even allowed to appear for my exams. Getting an education in private schools was a big deal, and my parents were struggling to provide me with proper education.
It was a huge struggle for me to get into school. Even after months of training and studying in a household I could not get any support from my relatives and neighbours and they kept on saying to my parents “why do you take such a risk of educating a girl?” But, I was motivated towards changing the situation of my family. This has motivated me to continue my education despite facing different problems. I gave the Kendriya Vidyala entrance exam and qualified. As a girl and a single child to my parents, my education was free of cost. By and by, overcoming several challenges along the way, I managed to complete my graduation in the humanities field.
It was during this time that I learned about the Nehru Yuva Kendra, working to help young people complete their education and forge career pathways for themselves. Through the organisation, I was chosen as one among twelve young candidates for the National Youth Parliament conducted by UN Volunteers and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. This is an experience that has opened my eyes to diverse perspectives, and the myriad issues that the Indian society faces today.
I had already chosen to build a future working towards improving the rate of education, and access to healthcare. As someone who had faced so many challenges while growing up, it was and will always be a passion point.
Spreading awareness about education, I have done many programs under the National Service Scheme and Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, telling people the value of education specially educating girls. I believe that man’s education can only improve or develop his own personality, but a girl’s education can change and develop the whole family.
I also worked as a volunteer under the International Association for Religious Freedom–Human Rights Resource Centre, India to spread awareness regarding education.
While I was volunteering in a village, I came across a family where only the male children were educated. When I raised this issue with them, the family said, they did not have a strong enough economic background to educate both children, so they choose the boy over the girl.
Working in this field, two critical challenges always present themselves to me:
One, in India, there is a clear gender inequality when it comes to education. Parents in many localities continue to ignore the educational needs of their daughters and marry them off as soon as they cross 18 years of age, and, compelled by her parents, to stop her education. Even if the daughters of the family want to become a doctor or an engineer, their parents do not agree with their future goals.
Two, higher education is such a privilege that most children belonging to economically backward backgrounds are unable to pursue it. I had to complete my graduation in a small private college instead of some college with a big repute, just because my parents could not afford it. After my graduation, I wanted to take civil services coaching, but I could not afford it as institutes demand huge amounts. I got to know about the Minorities Welfare Department which provides free civil service coaching, and after a successful attempt, I qualified for the exam and got funded for the coaching. Still, I face various financial problems, but I’ll work hard till I fulfil my dream.
These challenges resonate doubly with me because of the difficulty I myself faced in completing my education due to a lack of money. And, government scholarships are not enough to overcome the heightened economic requirements that are presented in a climate of inflation.
For me, the best way ahead to meet and overturn these challenges was to push ahead in my own studies and work hard to become an IAS Officer, which is what I’m devoting my time to, currently. That would be my message to others like myself too: work hard and meet the goals you set for yourself because that is the only way forward. Do you agree?
Ishrath Parveen belongs to the Khammam district of Telangana state. She is 20 years of age and has completed her graduation in Social Science. Right now, Ishrath is preparing for civil services and aims to become an Indian Administrative Services Officer. Last year, she was one among ten shortlisted candidates for the National Youth Parliament 2018 organised by UN Volunteers and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.