Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Parents of economically weaker section kids go the extra mile to fund tuitions

Parents of economically weaker section kids go the extra mile to fund tuitions

Shreya Roy Chowdhury, TNN Oct 9, 2012, 01.01AM IST

NEW DELHI: This lot is not being raised to be backbenchers. Parents of kids admitted through economically weaker section (EWS) reservation into private schools, are spending money they barely have on tuitions. They can't help with the homework - especially for lessons taught in "hi-fi English" - but they can make help available even if it means parting with an entire day's income or, as is the case with many mothers, taking up jobs.
Firoz, a rickshaw-puller, spends a day's income - Rs 150 - on his daughter's tuitions. Mehak is two, has just started at a local private school and, simultaneously, in a tuition class. "Kabhi-kabhi itna bhi bhar nahin patey ," says Firoz. The family — he has five kids - occupies a single room in New Seemapuri with its close rooms, air thick with flies and the stench of open drains and rotting garbage. Mehak is seen as the family's only ticket out of the place. "I have to spend a lot on her," continues Firoz - the Rs 600 allowed by government doesn't cover all expenses - but he'll still pay for the tuitions. "If she studies and does well," he says, "She'll make something of her life."

New Seemapuri - indeed all of Delhi - is teeming with EWS-kids on whom the hopes of entire families are pinned. "About 100 kids from here (Seemapuri) have been admitted through EWS reservation in local private schools," says Rajiv Kumar, founder of NGO Pardarshita, "And most of them go for tuition." At Rajeev Camp, Jhilmil, he says, there are about 150—200, including a few 11th and 12th graders. The fee rises with classes.
For teaching nursery-level, Azra, 23, charges Rs100. "Till Class 5, it's Rs100 for government-school kids. For private ones, the fee increases Class 1-onwards," she explains. "What you'd teach a government school kid in Class 1, you have to teach a private schooler in nursery," she explains. Azra, employed at a local library at Seemapuri, teaches about 15 kids. For higher classes, there are coaching centres that even general category students attend. They charge Rs 300 per subject from Class IX and for high school, it's Rs 500. "At Rajeev Camp, high-school kids pay as much as Rs1,000—Rs 1,200 for two subjects," says Kumar.
Rates are higher in south Delhi. Suneet Kohli's second-grader daughter Bhoovi, goes for tuitions in Malviya Nagar. He pays Rs 700 per month. "Her school supports us, organized extra-classes too," says Kohli, an electronics repairman. Sonpal Singh's boys are in Class III and kindergarten in Vasant Kunj. Their tuition claims Rs1,300 of the Rs 8,000 he makes a month. "They are taught along with a few other EWS kids. In school, they sometimes have trouble understanding lessons in English. With extra help, they can understand better."
They can't help with homework - many parents are illiterate - but they can get jobs. Aamla Siddiqui, mother of three, all in private schools and coaching classes, started working in an NGO to supplement the family income. Her eldest, Arib, 14, is in Class IX. He and his brother go to a coaching centre and pay Rs 1,100. "Many mothers are working to make ends meet," says Geeta of Pardarshita, "Aamla joined an NGO, Sitara started cooking in homes. They do odd-jobs within Seemapuri."
"It's a positive sign. It shows people are doing their best," says Social Jurist, Ashok Agarwal, "They have learnt how to survive in the system."

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