The problems faced by students

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114

Priyanka | 10
Madargate, Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh
(Dropped out of school after her mother passed away)

Photo: Vijay Pandey
Photo: Vijay Pandey

When I was little, Ma had to haul me out of bed every day to send me to school. But as time went by, I started waking up myself. We used to play, learn to dance and they served delicious food! I loved drawing and writing with a sketch pen. I had friends and teachers I could talk to. I had dreams; I wanted to study and go to the city. But all my dreams were shattered when Ma passed away. I haven’t been to school for two years. I had to quit school because there was nobody to cook and take care of the house. My father works as a cobbler and is out for work most of the day. I have stashed away all my books, because seeing them made me miss school. But every once in a while, I sit by the river and go over my drawing book. I love feeling the texture of crayons.

My father keeps telling me that he will send me to school soon, but my aunt doesn’t seem like she wants me to. She thinks that sending girls to school will “spoil” them. Her 14-year-old daughter never went to school either and helps me around the house some days, but I dread ending up like her. She sits with the elderly women and gossips all day. If that is the definition of a “good” girl, I don’t want to be one! All I wish for is to go back to school, learn something new every day. Grow up, get a job and earn for my father. And when I do, I want to take him with me to the city and give him all the comforts in life.

As told to Nupur Sonar 


Saloni Debbarma | 10
Baramura, West Tripura district, Tripura
(Class V, Amar Jyoti Upper Primary School)

I would like to become a teacher because education is the key to success. My parents are not educated; thus they toil every day, cultivating lands on the hilly terrain, earning a meagre sum as wages.

I’m the youngest of three sisters. I study at Amar Jyoti Upper Primary School. Every day, I walk for 2 km to reach my school. Though walking is painful, the desire to get educated keeps me going. What draws me further are the mid-day meals. We get eggs, vegetables, soyabean and, at times, even sweets. The food is not always properly cooked, but it is difficult to get even this at home.

My school has better infrastructure than other government schools in the area, which don’t usually have toilets, benches or even electricity.

We get books for free. My parents somehow manage to buy copies, pencils and uniforms. I wish the government would pay more attention to schools in tribal belts because for many students studying further becomes difficult due to lack of financial support.

One major problem is that often the teacher who is supposed to teach us never shows up. They appoint a ‘proxy’ teacher, someone who has usually studied up to Class X or XII. A proxy teacher is not skilled enough to teach, and often commits mistakes. This affects our results in the final examinations.

As told to Ratnadip Choudhury 


Photo: Vijay Pandey
Photo: Vijay Pandey

Prabhu Ram | 13
kharchi village, marwar, Rajasthan
(Class VII, Government Primary School)

I’m 13 years old and studying in Class VII at the government primary school in Kharchi village in Marwar, Rajasthan. I want my school to have fans in the classrooms. We also need tables and chairs. In our school, people from outside come in after class hours and piss in the corner. They are often people who sit and drink and then write abuses on the classroom walls. They walk in because the windows, doors and the school gate are broken. I want this to stop. I want the school gate to be repaired.

Still, there are a few good things in my school. Our principal is good. And the food we get to eat is good. Tuesday is the best day for food. We get dal chawal. When I grow up, I want to be a police inspector.

 As told to Revati Laul


Krishna | 6
New Delhi
(Class II, Government School, Malviya Nagar)

Every time I see an aeroplane whiz past in the sky, I want to be on it. I want to be the one flying it. I love going to school because my mother tells me that it is the only way I can become a pilot. But I don’t know if I will ever be able to become one. I can’t even recite the table of 7. My teacher tells me that I’m no good every time I fumble when she asks me to recite the table of 7. A few days ago, she even hit me with a stick on my back. I have told her that I don’t understand multiplication but she keeps asking me to simply go home and memorise it. Didi, do you think I will ever be able to become a pilot?

As told to Nupur Sonar


Jyoti Reddy | 20
Mumbai
(Sociology Student at St Xavier’s College)

Initially, I studied at a municipal school. The teachers would let us play all day, gossiping in a corner, scolding us if we disturbed them. When I was six, volunteers from Akanksha set up a centre near our home. I began to go there after school. They were shocked to learn that none of us, even the 12-yearolds, didn’t know the alphabet. Anjali didi began to teach us everything. I stopped going to school and went to the centre.

One day, my father died of tuberculosis. For months, I refused to go to school. Finally, I told Anjali didi that I had decided to quit studying and find a job, but she dissuaded me. I stuck through school, uncertain at first, but just happy to be around people who cared. I realise now what they meant. I will be able to help my mother much more when I graduate from Xavier’s next year, than I could have as a 12-year-old.

As told to Nishita Jha


Shivam | 10
New Delhi
(Class IV, Government School, Malviya Nagar)

I never liked the food they served at school. It is bland, tasteless and has no salt. The dal is watery; the rice often has stones in it. I have been especially scared to eat at school ever since one of my classmates found two baby rats in his food. Ever since, my mother packs me tiffin. The other day, I was playing with my friends and when one of the boys fell down, our teacher hit all of us with a stick. Every day, someone or the other gets beaten up. I’m petrified of my teacher.

As told to Nupur Sonar


Sushil Goala | 11
Letekoojan tea Estate, Jorhat, Assam
(Class V, Shankardev Upper Primary School)

I’m a first-generation learner in my family. I have a younger sister who goes to an anganwadi. My mother, Moni Goala, and father, Suresh Goala, work in the tea garden as causal labourers. Since their service is not regularised, they don’t get regular work throughout the week. The day they work, they get Rs 100.

We are a very poor family, but my parents are desperate to educate us. Most of the time, they skip meals to save food and money, so that they can send me to school. Although education is free, they have to bear some expenses.

Talking about my school, it is satisfactory. In fact, for very poor students like me, anything that educates is satisfactory. But the teachers tend to look down upon us — the tea tribe community students. But I don’t mind it as long as I can study.

The lessons we get are not good enough. I have no one back home to help me with my lessons, and no money to engage a private tutor, so I failed once in Class IV. For students like us, can’t the government arrange for special tutorial classes, maybe after school? I don’t know for how long I’d be able to pursue my education; it is almost next to impossible with no tutor. The teachers hardly bother if the student is developing his knowledge or not.

As told to Ratnadip Choudhury


Poonam Prajapati | 12
Kharchi village, Marwar, Rajasthan
(Class VII, Government Primary School)

Photo: Vijay Pandey
Photo: Vijay Pandey

Every morning, I leave home at 6 am and walk 3 km to get to school. It takes me an hour. I feel scared on the way because some people hurl abuses while I’m walking to school. Once I get to school, the first thing we do is to sing Vande Mataram. I find maths the most difficult subject in class. Our class doesn’t have a fan or doors and windows. I want a fan, doors, windows, tables and chairs and computers for our class. But, most of all, I wish all of us kids could be given bicycles to ride to school.

As told to Revati Laul


Dheeraj Kumar | 18
New Delhi
(Electrical Engineering Student, National Institute of Technology)

I owe my success to my tuition teachers. In school, we could never depend upon our teachers to learn. Weeks would go by without the sign of a teacher. Whenever we complained to the principal, he gave us false reassurances. Our homework went unchecked, we never got feedback. Whether we studied or not, we breezed through exams. In Class IX, I realised how weak my basic concepts were. It was only after I joined Aarohan, an ngo that conducts free extra classes for underprivileged students, that I started clearing my concepts. I had to work really hard.

As told to Nupur Sonar


Zoya Ikramuddin | 9
New Delhi
(Class V, private school in Jafrabad)

Photo: Vijay Pandey
Photo: Vijay Pandey

Compared to the other kids in my neighbourhood, I know that I go to a school that is bigger and better. I’m really lucky that my school is close by and I can walk to it. But if I were the principal of my school, there are many things I’d like to change about it. I wish we had better teachers. I wish we had a huge playground, but first things first, I wish we had better toilets. I wish they were cleaned regularly, not once in a while like they are at present. The stench is so intolerable that I avoid using the bathroom as much as I can. My favourite teacher, Farzana, tell us that it isn’t healthy to go on through the day like that. We have complained to her several times but the authorities don’t take any action despite her complaints.

I wish we had more teachers like her — caring, patient and always ready to listen. She is the reason I love studying Hindi. She knows how to make learning fun. If more teachers were like her, I think I’d be able to learn better. My maths teacher, for instance, speaks too fast. Half the students don’t understand what he is teaching. Although he is always around in the library and I go to him regularly to sort my doubts, not all my classmates do so. Most are inhibited, scared of being branded “dumb”. And gradually, they lose interest and start falling behind others in class.

Although I don’t like going to school much, I know it is necessary. I know that I need to go if I want to do well for myself, but something needs to be done about the way things are taught at school. So I put in extra hours, attend tuition, do whatever I must to do well at school.

When I grow up, I want to be a teacher just like Farzana. I want to make sure that other kids don’t suffer like we sometimes do when things aren’t taught well.

As told to Nupur Sonar


Himanshu | 10
New Delhi
(Class III, Government School in Malviya Nagar)

My teacher doesn’t come to school for two days a week. And on days when the teachers are around, they skip the last class. We aren’t allowed to leave early. Teachers sit in the staff room, drinking tea and chatting. We are given a lot of homework, but they never check it. A lot of students don’t even bother finishing their homework. I get mine checked at tuition.

As told to Nupur Sonar


Anjali Chaurasia | 10
Lucknow
(Class II, Nav Srijan School)

I like my school and my teachers. Our teachers never hit us, and even when we don’t do our homework, they only scold us. Every day, we are given bananas to eat. My favourite subject is Hindi, though I like other subjects too. Sometimes, my elder brother helps me with my homework.

As told to Aradhna Wal 


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