In the run up to the Independence day, as part of the regular activities of the Chennai chapter of Bharat Uday Mission, I came into contact with over 100 students who belonged to the lower socio-economic strata from two government run schools in Chennai. Half the students belonged to a school on G.N.Chetty road, T.Nagar and the rest to a school in Chintadripet.
We put a three questions to them
- India's Independence day with the year
- India's Republic day with year
- The colours of the Indian National flag, in order.
It was a terribly disappointing experience for me and my fellow members, who share an emergent dream for the country, to see the complete ignorance of the young minds, about such basic facts about India. Hardly 5-6 from those 100+ students belonging to classes 5-8 knew the answer to all three questions!
If this was bad what came next was worse, a group of girls of class 8 did not know, that the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu was the city they live in!! Some students of class 7-9 did not know all the English alphabets properly!!!
As dark clouds of gloom descended on our dreams and aspirations, there was a silver lining too, in the form of privately managed welfare school in Beasant Nagar. The Olcott Memorial High School, which for over a hundred years has been giving free education to the children of domestic workers, labourers and fishermen. The children there came up with a slogan that I now use with pride on my Email signature "India at 59, better than yesterday, But not as good as tomorrow!"
There is only one difference between the first two schools and the Olcott school - Good dedicated teachers. It's for these kind of teachers and those teachers who made me, who I am, I say from the bottom of my heart, HAPPY TEACHERS' DAY!
Cross posted from Chennaiist.com