Amol, our CC from Mumbai was refused admission in school for non-existent reasons.
In 2006, Amol Lalzare, a 9th grade student of Prerna Night School, Deonar, Mumbai who worked odd jobs at day and went to school after, had to drop out due to severe financial constraints. The responsibility of supporting his family had shifted onto his young shoulders. For the next five years he worked hard hoping to find a semblance of stability for himself and his loved ones. All through, he associated himself with several organizations and became a community leader in his slum and a community media activist. In 2011, he decided to resume his interrupted education once again.
“So I went back to my school only for the principal to turn me away saying that the rules prohibit a student from taking a re-admission after a period of five years,” says Amol,” So I went to some other schools and when I asked them about it, they assured me that there was no such rule like that. They were more than willing to take me in.”
Amol went back to his school and this time with his camera. He walked into the principal’s office and asked for an interview. “He went white,” says Amol,” and asked me to turn the camera off at once. So I decided to hide the camera and steal the footage.” Smuggling his camera into the bag and walking into the college the third time, Amol finally captured the footage he wanted, the one that he now intends to show the principal.
Meanwhile he has resumed his education is yet another school but one that is far from the slum he lives in. “There are many like me. I’m lucky I found a school and I have the time to make the daily commute but others may not,” he says,” Nobody chooses to be illiterate, they are kept that way by a system which doesn’t care.”
The inherent irony that marks the Indian Educational System is advertised on the walls of Prerna Night School which by sports the logo for the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (Right to Education Act) and a colourful banner graciously welcoming students from poor and marginalized backgrounds by promising concessions, scholarships and other sops. According to a 2004 study, 8.1 million children between the ages of 6 to 14 are out of school. The quality of education fluctuates greatly across class divides with the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and other government schemes faring rather poorly. Furthering this systemic discrimination is principals, trustees and teachers who run their institutions like fiefdoms.
“What made me angry was the way he just made up a non-existent rule and tried to keep me out. He was probably expecting me to put up a little resistance before shrugging my shoulders and walking away like all who came before me. Once he finds out how wrong he was, I’d like to hear his thoughts on the video.”