When you enter the primary school in Mandiralvalasa village in Vizianagaram district, you will be greeted with a hearty ‘Good morning’ from a group of 1st Grade and 2nd Grade children sitting in one shared classroom. The most surprising part of this interaction is the confidence in those smiling faces.
In remote rural villages, children have few real/role models to look up to. Praislin, a young girl from Thirunindravur, Tamil Nadu, was forced to drop her educational aspirations as her father, the sole provider in the family, battled health issues. She was passionate about the English language and wanted to become an English professor.
These young migrant children wandered around the brick kilns, and were being exposed to serious safety hazards. Slowly, yet surely they were also being forced into child labor in the brick kilns. Tamil Nadu is a land of 3,000 brick kilns where 90% of the 300,000 workers are seasonal migrants from within and outside the state.
Second PU results came out last week. One of the girls, Pragati , supported by ILP scored 71%. Everyone at ILP was extremely happy at the achievement. Even NDTV came over to cover her as part of their series on education. Surprised? And wondering why a girl, who scored 71% marks, became this significant, when the first rank student in Karnataka probably scored 98% or more.
I remember him as a boy with a perpetually serious expression. Purushotham stood out from the rest of his group because of his fluency in English and his conversational skills. He was only thirteen years old at the time when he first became associated with ILP. In 2005, Purushotham was selected by ILP under its scholarship initiative, the Puraskara scheme. At that time, he was studying in the 8th standard, at a government aided school in Bengaluru's Yeshwantpura suburb.