RTE GIVES ‘RIGHT to issue FAKE CERTIFICATES’
I was surprised to see a lady lawyer bringing a boy to ‘Spandana’ – office of Kaliyuva Mane. It seems she had visited Kaliyuva Mane earlier. She was a volunteer of Pratham also. The boy was from a broken family. His mother was working as a domestic help in Bengaluru. His father had deserted the family. The boy’s mother was an illiterate. It seems the boy was going to a Government school in Sheshadripuram, Bengaluru. As per records, he had completed 5th standard and was in 6th standard. He was 12 years old.
I wanted to check his academic level. He could not identify Kannada alphabets even. I asked his age. His answer was funny: 6 or 7 or 12 or 15. Lawyer’s statement is reproduced below.
I asked him the question: ‘Were you going to school regularly?’ The boy was frank and honest! His reply was: ‘Nan beedhi suttha idde’. [‘I was roaming on the streets] This boy is technically not an orphan. His parents are alive. He is technically not a school dropout either. As per records he has passed age appropriate 5th standard. He is a victim of RTE Act, which compels the teachers, to issue fake certificates. It forces teachers to be loyal to the rule book than to their conscience and to the children.
The advocate wanted admission for this boy as a resident scholar. We have our own limitations. Chances of getting sponsorship for a boy-child are very bleak. But we have stubborn faith in Swami Vivekananda’s words: ’Feel from the bottom of your heart. Take up an issue. Find the solution. Put your hands to the wheels of the work. Men will come, Money will come and God’s Grace will come.” Kaliyuva Mane is yet to get formal recognition as a ‘School’ in spite of education minister’s instructions to the commissioner to take necessary steps to grant recognition. The commissioner, Department of Public Instructions, Bengaluru is exploring whether there are any such recognized non-formal schools since 16 months. He is yet to take right action.
Some thoughts crossed my mind. ‘What is the future for this boy? Will he not become an anti social element? Where is the school for this boy to learn?” About a fortnight ago, this boy joined Kaliyuva Mane family as a resident scholar. But the next day morning, our children saw him running away from Kaliyuva Mane. One staff member started the scooter and brought him back. Once more the same thing happened. [We will be vigilant, whenever a new boy joins Kaliyuva Mane.]
Initially, he refused to have food. I took him to kitchen. I told the boy, “If you feel like, you need not attend any classes. You can play around.” He was surprised. He found another boy of similar nature. They were happily roaming around in Kaliyuva Mane. After few days, I took him to our computer laboratory and made him play some games. His face lit up. He started trusting me. I asked him, “When you grow old, do you want to buy a motor cycle? Do you want to take care of your mother?” The boy nodded his head in affirmative. ‘How do you earn money? Do you want to steal? Or do you want to beg? Or do you want to become a monk in a Mutt?’ The boy started nodding his head negatively and smiled. I told him, ‘Look, you have two options here: one to study, get a job and earn; or you can work here. We will pay you.’ He replied, “I want to work”. Then I sent him to Jayaramu. The boy was with Jayaramu for 2-3 days.
A couple of days later, I was a bit anxious not to find him anywhere in the campus. But to my delight, the boy was sitting in Geetha’s class, sticking dry leaves on a drawing paper! I felt, he had finally arrived!
Now the boy is happy. He uses vulgar words. First we have to transform him; then teach him teaching life skills; then make him learn 10 years of textual content within 4 years; then make him pass 10th standard examinations; then build his future. A herculean task indeed! Greatest hurdle comes from the Policies of the Government. Our prevalent education system considers all children as machines who can learn a predetermined textual content within a predetermined time interval, in a predetermined way. Children’s learning depends on several factors: environment at home, parents’ education, child’s inherent capacity to learn, child’s emotional quotient, peer group, teachers, school, education system, etc. It is wrong to label the child as ‘failed’. But it is equally wrong to issue fake certificates. 50% of rural school children suffer from an academic lag of 3 years. This is where Kaliyuva mane’s non-formal education system gains relevance. I hope Mr. Tanveer Sait, our new education minister from Mysore visits Kaliyuva Mane soon. To know more about the school, please download the document, ‘About School’ from our website.