Ichchedana, the event conceived and conducted by CRY and Civilian Welfare Foundation (CWF) was a success not for the organizers but for whom we have arranged it, yes the kids were happy and thus were we. To me the event stood out not because of the hues that the children showed through their drawings, smiles and spirit but every component of the event had its own meaning, a motto! A message!
The name was Ichchedana (wings of desire). The event gave the children a platform to feel special unlike us whose school days have been spent in participating various competitions where we wanted to win a medal for our school. These children wanted to be part of it first. It again raises the questions â€“ why these schools that have been somehow segregated on the basis of socio-cultural lineage that these children have, never get exposure to such extra-curricular events? Sit-and-draw competition. The message was simple; play with colors no competitions no fears. On a serious note many schools don’t even have drawing classes as we used to have? Does the RTE act cater to this lack?
The magic show beyond entertainment taught the children some tricks, to be focused to be skilled and to be above all imaginative dare to dream and its yours because imagination and dreams really don’t have boundaries. ‘Bawra maan dekne chala ek sapna’– Sramona’s (a friend of a volunteer) dance performance really said it all “dare to dream and its yours”.
In the RTE quiz the questions were asked to know how knowledgeable the teachers were about the act itself. They all knew it well and even located the problems of the act. The problem is two folded- the new system where examination has been called off has taken its toll. Students don’t turn up, they are reluctant to study and the teachers have really no way out. The rising number of coaching centers for kids belonging from slums is also a vital problem because it affects the connection between school teachers and students. No punishment system, no exam for the teachers there is no way that they can make a child study. Itâ€™s the mid-day meals that the children still hold on to. One senior teacher, who has been in this profession for 35 years, rightly said that just a strict RTE act cannot bring change because the healthcare and proper nutrition is also attached with proper education. The act does not entitle medical test for children in any school. Most teachers said that though itâ€™s been implemented its execution isn’t easy.
Child labor, child sexual harassment, early marriage of girls, female feticide- these issues were touched upon by a group of drama enthusiasts named: ‘M.A.D- Mad for drama’. The story of a bunch of students sitting in the classroom of Hridaypur Public School said it all. The lack of awareness and knowledge are the main reason why such criminal offences happen.
There even much more to say under the title “Making of Ichchedana”. While we tried to include all government and government aided schools near and around Peyarabagan slum, we viewed some strange things. The condition of some schools has worsened since last month. The school doesn’t run properly but the school building has been a premise for other successful commercial ventures. The school headmistress was on a leave and the teachers were all sitting in the reception and told us “No, we won’t be participating for sure, students hardly come to school, and how you can expect they will come for the event!”. There seemed no initiative on the part of the teachers to run the school successfully. On the other hand, another school has changed a lot not only in its decor but in its attitude, for our event they had put up a notice on the school board to attend our event and on the day we went to give the formal visiting cards, they gave us the name, class and number of students coming.
Things are changing- a bit for the better, a bit for the worse. Education can seriously reach children if two heads think likewise, the head of the child’s family and the head of the school both need to realize the importance of education. and yes, we, all of us who aren’t one of these need to teach some lessons to ourselves as well, that is not to allow any kid as a servant in our house, office, hotel.
“Wings of Desire” we all have it and we all desire to fly high. These kids aren’t any exception, so don’t make them such. It’s our responsibility as well.