Thursday, May 26, 2011

Education is not cowardliness | It is courage | To take charge and act

Please watch the video before you read

"Congratulations Mrs. Goel, your twins have won the scholarship for the third time", said the old lady who knew almost everything about almost everything happening in her neighborhood.

Mrs. Goel did not express her surprise and offered sweets to her,"congratulations to you too."

"You have brilliant kids, they will make this country proud one day. They will do 'something' for this country for sure", said the old lady.

"Well, everyone does something for his/her country according to his/her capacity, I just pray to God that my kids remain sane and honest all their lives, honest to themselves", exclaimed the proud mother.

The state board used to award scholarships to brilliant students, few hundred students from the state who had performed well in their academics in the board exams. A cash prize of INR 10, 000 was given to brilliant students. The basic idea behind the scholarship program was to promote the hard working students to do well, study well and pay back to the state when they are in a condition to pay back. After all, we invest in government for our good, government invests in us for collective good. And for a small, limited-budget state like Himachal, giving away INR 10,000 per year for four years is not an easy thing, the state government must have had very high expectations.

For the twins and hundreds of other students like them , cash prize of INR 10,000 meant a new cycle, brand new Campus shoes and for the less privileged, it meant school fee and household expenditure for the next few months. Money was spent carefully and by the time next board exams were over, they managed to earn another scholarship of INR 10,000. Things were going great, government was promoting the young talent and the young talent too was willing to serve the nation, the state, one day.

The schools were over and it was time to get into the colleges, choice was never a choice so they both ended up in good engineering colleges, the ones which are next to IITs. Most of the others who availed INR 10,000 for four years also landed in similar colleges, some of them even managed to get into IITs. They enjoyed scholarships in their engineering colleges too, however the amount was not as great as it used to be, but whatever it was, it kept coming. Finally they got a job, a good, nice job in a big nice city. They had to move because that was the best offered to them. The state had nothing to offer, so they had to leave their state. And not to forget, the others who got those scholarships also did the same, they also moved out. They started earning, however they did not love their job, well most of them did not. They wanted to make decisions, gain control, to make an impact, to make a change. After all, they were not normal students, they were brilliant students once and brilliance does not settle for anything less than brilliance or perfection [or probably nowadays they do settle for easy things, easily.]

In the free time, they would talk about the differences in the education system of their state and other states. How Delhi's ninth grader is smarter than a Himachal's graduate. How they would have not become an engineer, had they been born in some X Y Z state because they would have had better exposure. And some even came from Bihar, UP, Jharkhand and other 'mineral rich' states of the country, For most of them, every thing looked new, almost every thing. They were fluent in Hindi but they felt learning English is more important than speaking near perfect Hindi. Well, learning is never bad but at the cost of forgetting your best skill, it is a questionable act for sure.

After working for a while as Software Engineers, both the twins felt that they should move ahead and the only thing that looked attractive to them was MBA because their high paying jobs were not good enough for them to earn respect, both social and self respect. Their brilliance was soon overpowered by fear and they could not understand what they actually wanted to do. And interestingly they did not know what did they fear.  As they were brilliant, they managed to get into IIMs which would make them best managers of the country. Even there they kept feeling that their education system has betrayed them. Had it been nice, they would have become something else but not engineers and not even managers.

Back in their state, 11long years, the poor state government was still giving INR 10, 000 as scholarships to the brilliant students, so that they will serve the nation and the state of course, one day.

Both the twins would go back to their hometown, sit with their parents, who were still proud but would stay alone in their big house. They were happy that their kids were doing great, they wanted them to settle in their respective cities because their cities were 'advance' and had better scope for them. One fine day, both the twins went to their old school, just to meet their teachers. They found out that their school had developed, better classrooms, a big computer lab, a nice playground and many other things that were not available at their time.

And then they met their old friend in their school, who had become a TGT Chemistry lecturer in the school. He was just an average guy when he was studying with them, even today he was an average guy. He would speak of nothing but money and cars and mobile phones. He blamed the students for not studying, and he also told them that how he does not like his job and he wanted to be an engineer. The twins felt pity for the students, how they were at the mercy of an incompetent asshole who was just not motivating enough for himself, let alone the students. He did his BSc, then MSc, then BEd and then ended up in the job after availing the reservation facility bestowed upon him some 63 years ago.They concluded that nothing has changed here, the teachers were still the same.

But then he was not a brilliant guy.
He never got a 10,000 scholarship for four straight years.
He never went to any engineering college, which was next to IIT
He did not understand why school level education was important, why it is important to have a very strong and motivated school education because that is what makes young blood actually blood.

He did not understand anything.

They both knew what was needed.
They both knew that entry level education needed to change.
But they had to catch a flight next day as they were granted only three day leave by their bosses and go back to the 'city' which they never loved. However, they would always miss their hometown back in the 'city'.

While coming back from their school they met an old teacher who used to run a small library. He had this huge collection of books, fictional, non-fiction, philosophy, poetry and what not. He was still a primary school teacher but he was a happy man, as he used to be happy when both of them were studying in the school. He had a small room and interested students would come to his library, read books, listen to his stories, share his experience and feel good about life. Life which he had been living for the last 65 years.

They entered into his small library and saw him working with his books. They both sat with him and he tried to remember them. He recognized them instantly because they were the ones who gave him hope once.

And the first thing they asked him,"Sir, how do you manage all this even today?"

He said,"I don't manage son. I just try to live, to find joy in what I do."
'It looks the same, nothing has changed here. Why did you not change it? I does not look good aesthetically.' said one of them.
"I like it better this way, and those who care will change it someday, I am hopeful that someone will come back for sure, for once, someone will definitely come back."
Nobody spoke a word, they looked at each other and the sound of deep breathing of young ones sitting in the library was the only thing indicating that life existed inside that room.

They soon left the place, next year the library was renovated.
The twins had decided to take break twice every year. They had found joy, a cause in their lives. They had a piece of land which their father had bought to sell-off some day to earn 'more cash'. Both of them convinced their father that cash is never 'more'. The library was better now, more and more people joined them, the ones who had once regretted their birth in the town. the forgotten brilliant kids who claimed everyday that their life is worth nothing and in the race of being known they had started not recognizing their own selves.

"All we need to find a cause, something that makes us excited when we get up in the morning and happy when we sleep. We are not yet all lost, we were given scholarships because they had faith in us. Now it is time that we have faith in ourselves", said one of the guys who had just quit his job because he had understood that education is never a curse, it is always a boon, which [must] gives you strength to stand tall and make bold decisions, about yourselves and everything else.
Education [learning] must not be restricted to schools. Those who crib or cribbed about bad education system must understand and accept that there are still thousands of students who want to go to school and learn but they never get a chance. Those who get a chance are busy finding mistakes. There are thousands of things we can do to make a change, we just need to have faith in our self. 

I have this dream of having a huge library one day where not only books but vision is also shared.


Anonymous said...

Thoughful|Superb|Simple- as usual:)

Gaurav Vashist said...


Ajit Singh Taimur said...

congrats ....written very well .....its the same story everywhere ....not only in the govt schools of bihar or up .....i have seen duffers teaching in pg colleges lovely professional university having 26000 students which charges 2 to 3 lacs for a course .......i have seen duffers teaching in b ed colleges.....i dont know what is the scene in these pvt engineering colleges .......
you know why ....bcoz these days ppl dont bcom teachers bcoz they live teaching bcom teachers bcoz inke pass karne ke liye aur koi option hi nahi tha .....
india must change this situation .....we ought to have the best ppl to bcom teachers .....
thanx for such a thoughtful post .....

Ankesh at Talk said...

I have a dream to start a sports university where a sports loving kid does not have to give up his sports to get a engineering degree... Where he does not have to worry for a living... Some day I will full my dream :)

Nishit said...

Keep up the good work n i wish u will achieve wht u dezire- a library :)