Most of us talk about MAD on a daily basis. We campaign for MAD, try our best to explain to others exactly what we do and how MAD manages to really make a difference in our kid’s lives.
But how many of us are truly aware of how significant an impact we can have on their lives? I didn’t fully scale the magnitude of that impact until last week, when an incident made me realize that we do after all have the ability to steer the course of our children’s future.
For those of you who didn’t know, a few weeks back we got a wonderful offer from a school called SBOA. Mrs Daphne, the principal of SBOA, generously offered to provide one of our kids with a seat in their school.
SBOA is one of the top CBSE schools in the city. To have one of our 10 std kids study there would have provided them with a head start few of our kids could have dreamed of.
Thulasi, one of our 10th passouts, was our natural choice. She had after all secured the best marks of all our kids in her board exams. Also, she lived just a few kms away from the school. The sister told us she had always dreamed of having one of their kids study at SBOA. We couldn’t have been more prouder of ourselves than we did that day.
Thulasi, a highly ambitious kid, was also very excited about getting to study in a high quality private school. Her excitement was infectious, but so were her apprehensions and fear.
Her biggest fear was that she wouldn’t be able to cope with the language problem. It wasn’t just the English used by the teachers. But also the fact that the kids would be conversing in English as well, which Thulasi said she might not be able to adjust to.
But the Principal was very supportive. She guaranteed Thulasi all kinds of support from their end, even after school classes if Thulasi needed them. The principal asked her for her opinion. She told Thulasi that if she was confident about being able to handle it, she would most certainly find a seat for herself in the school.
When Thulasi found herself unable to make a decision, Mrs Daphne came up with a fair assessment to help her decide. She gave her three 10th standard Model question papers. She was asked to take her own time and go through the papers to try and see if she could solve them so as to decide whether she could handle it or not.
Sadly, Thulasi said the level of English, in which the questions were written, was simply too difficult for her to cope with. In the sister’s words, she couldn’t even understand the questions, because they were in English.
It was heart breaking for us to see her having to throw away a prized education because of a language problem. The same barrier that we had promised to tear down!
If MAD had stepped into her life a little earlier, she could have perhaps gotten into SBOA and naturally taken a different course from where she would go now. Now that she has got into a state syllabus school, its back to the same vicious cycle. She will find herself facing the same monster when she goes to college, because college level education will naturally be English Medium, causing her to be disheartened and drop out in the process.
I hope every MAD Volunteer remembers this incident before he/she starts taking class this year. We should never forget just how capable we are of changing the course of their lives. We need to remind ourselves of the real purpose behind our two hour classes every week.
Even though Thulasi will be going into a vernacular school we are positive her hard work and ambition will get her through all the barriers. And lets hope for the same as well.
Meanwhile, we as MAD volunteers should make sure this never happens again. No kid shall ever pass out of a MAD course and complain about not being able to cope with language problems. Lets all take an oath to put in every ounce of our efforts to get them on par with their counterparts, so that the next time fortune knocks on their doorsteps they wouldn’t have to throw it away. Lets break down that barrier!
On a more positive note, since Thulasi chose not to study in SBOA, their offer to sponsor a child with a seat in their school is still standing. Mrs Daphne will be visiting one of our centers next month and she will choose one of the younger kids to study in her school!! What a great note to kick start the new year on!