This incident was about 3-4 days back. That morning I got delayed for my morning stroll with Teio. Stroll because Teio ambles along. No walk and definitely not brisk at all. After doing her morning routine, we headed to the park. This is Teio’s favourite place. No idea, why it is so, but she loves it. I saw a young boy of 13/14 years sitting on the bench, neatly dressed in washed blue uniform. Hair neatly oiled and combed, obviously from the nearby municipal school. Not hard to guess that he was bunking school. I first ignored then thought I must try and talk to him.
His name was Vikas Jadhav. I confronted him with an open question of why he was bunking school. He said he hadn’t completed his home work. Upon prodding further, he told me that he couldn’t manage English, can read but doesn’t understand it. He was embarrassed that when he read aloud all kids laughed at him. Teachers didn’t help much as they were not very good at teaching. In fact they often asked for Gutka/tobacco from students. I nearly fainted. I am not sure of that but I am aware that most municipal schools really lack good teachers. I offered to help but asked him not to bunk school as his parents must be working really hard to send him to school. I made him realise that he was their future. He came from lower middle class. Dad was a tailor at garment factory. He opened a chapter towards the end of the book. I made him read and I explained meanings and the story. He wrote them alongside his text book. He was a bright kid but lack of understanding and ridicule made him shut off. I realised that State board has many mistakes in the book and don’t know if there was any correction from teacher’s side. I had spent 40 minutes explaining the chapter, meanings already. He then bought out his Maths book and asked me if I could do the same. Now this was a googly. I can’t teach Maths and that too in Marathi!!! No way! I said I was sorry, he really couldn’t understand that if I spoke Marathi, why I couldn’t explain Math. I offered to tutor him for English free and asked him what the date for the exams was. This was my second shock -he said four days later. Then I realised he was giving his board exam and the poor chap didn’t know anything. I was appalled at his knowledge. This was definitely not enough to get him through the boards. So asked him what his plan was given the level of preparation. He said he plans to copy. I for once in my life time said he should do so.
I could believe I said that. I haven’t ever copied in my life but I guess in my forties I have relaxed this principal. The system of not failing the child, the poor standard of teaching, and the child’s over all learning capabilities, his background- everything was responsible this mess. And I didn’t see any solution except copying and getting out. At least a 10th pass certificate will get him into some vocational course like ITI etc. And help him earn his livelihood. I was left wondering how many Vikas' out there needed help and what happens to their future. Strange cioncidence the kid's name meant progress.