What I have realised is that the right to education IS possible but only if citizens participate.. For instance, Masoom for education, run by Nikita Ketkar, is one such endeavour.
Nikita Ketkar did a project through a PUKAR fellowship in 2006-2007, when she was working in a regular job in DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation). This research project revealed that since night school students are mostly those who work during the day, they have a deep personal thirst for education that brings them to these schools. But the lack of infrastructure and resources proves an impediment in the learning process.
“How difficult it is for these children to continue studying. I don’t know if I could have done it,” Nikita kept thinking. Her anguish at the conditions there remained. Issues of nutrition, counselling and motivation were starkly obvious. She had laid them all out painstakingly. But was that enough? Who would take it forward, she thought. The admiration at the heroic efforts of the children, who overcome all odds to continue studying, coupled with her distress at the conditions kept gnawing at her. She never could feel the project was complete though her report was submitted. She kept thinking, “There is no use of this report if it is going to just be filed as an academic project.”
With this, came the next step. After all, who could be better at taking the concrete steps that were required than her?
When I take leave of Nikita, I realize that we as a nation can succeed by understanding the whole issue and working with the government, ensuring transparency and interacting with others who care about the country to improve the nation. India has leaped forward in so many areas. Surely, we can achieve success in this area too, with people like Nikita. The minimum we can do is to understand her travails and give her as much support as we can. Nikita’s dream now is to reach all night schools in Mumbai. Knowing her grit and record of accomplishment, it would not be long before this would happen.