It was during the time that I was working as an Academic Vice Principal in one of the leading CBSE Plus Two Schools in Patna, responsible for drafting curriculum, mapping strategies to make teachers more productive and students better learners and overall charting projects to promote the quality of education in a bid to create a name for the Private school I was engaged with, in those days. It was a blissful phase. I was involved in a profession which fuelled my passion to promote education, kept me in daily touch with something I cared about and provided a much needed impetus to my career drive inthis competitive set-up.
Big dreams, fuelled by bigger ambitions were dreaming of big projects when out of nowhere, like all other private schools catering to the upper echelons of the society, we were jolted out of our joie-de-vivre as all private schools were brought under the purview of the Right to Education Act of 2009, in the year 2010. The Act ensures Free and Compulsory Education to be provided to all children between the ages of 6 to 14 years under Article 21A of the Indian Constitution.
So far, so good this was a noble measure, long due. The problem was with its implementation which stated that hence onwards all Private school are bound to admit 25% children from the weaker and under-privileged section in their Induction Class, each year. Conceptually it was a path-breaking initiative, determined to break across the walls of class and strata and make the move towards a more cohesive society possible.
However, it was easier said than done. Parents of that section were wary of approaching big schools on their own. As a result, the Act played big time in the hands of politicians and agents and was liable to be grossly misused.
But the practical problem that we faced in the school was related to its efficacy, post-admission. The graph of learning outcome for these students was far lower than other children. Integrating these children and bringing some sort of parity between different levels of education and exposure seemed a mammoth task, seemingly improbable.
But a look at those faces, eager to learn, anxious to assimilate, make friends made me in conjunction with few other friends start my first charity venture. We pledged to raise the academic and non-academic benchmarks of these young pupils, beyond the purview of government dictates and make them worthy contenders in the classrooms.
The school provided us with a spare classroom, after- school hours and on a rotational basis with some other friends we geared to provide them Spoken English and subject related tutorials, aiming to make their integration with the mainstream, relatively seamless.
The project showed its benefits within two months of inception as the feeling of inclusion was affected as soon as academic benchmarks were attained.The project then went on to enroll, year after year new batches beyond the purview of the school I was working on, to cater to children of neighborhood slums, by providing them with language proficiency and subject guidance, so that marginalized children get a decent shot at education and are fully equipped to avail the benefits of the Government’s landmark Act.