Tag Archives: education

To Kausra

Dear Kausra

We met the other day at your school and spending those ten minutes with you changed a lot for me. I felt I owe you an apology and hence I write to you.

Before landing in Srinagar – J&K, I like most other people from India came with my baggage about what I thought of “Kashmir”. I was also excited about the Dal lake, shikaras, phirnis and unabashedly voyeuristic about wanting to know more about the conflict. When I exited the airport, I saw a sign reading “Welcome to Paradise on Earth” and right under that was a soldier with a gun. I was uncomfortable to see the army presence, I was even more uncomfortable to acknowledge that the fundamental right of freedom of movement is curtailed and most importantly I was acutely aware of how different my India is and how I had no business discussing how this part of the world should be “India” as well.

I am embarrassed to tell you that reading a couple of books and editorials I thought I understood what your daily life looks like.  Nothing prepared me Kausra, to live sharing the surroundings you grow up with each day. Waking up listening to gunshots of the army doing target practice or being stopped for checking in the middle of the road or even that flurry of panic, thinking of sudden firing that is happening 1 km away from where we stood – Kausra, I do not know how you do it.

Your school teachers tell me how girls in your village are not confident, very quiet and not participative in class. Your school principal congenially told me about how girls are generally reticent. The boys in your class overcompensated for your silence. You looked down with your head bowed when I asked you a question. I accepted your silence for your shyness. But when you stood up and shared what you thought in a shaky yet confident voice, I saw some bit of myself in you.

I do not think you are shy or “under-confident” or reticent. I do not want to make any more assumptions on your behalf. But if my three days can leave me without words to describe what I am feeling, I empathise how speechless you must feel seeing what you see day in and day out. If I were you, I would bow my head down too. It is just easier to find answers within than look outside to spell it out for everyone else.

I am sorry Kausra for being one of those many strangers who trapeze into your life thinking you should open up and start “sharing” your life story.  It is again the same mistake of thinking that you are waiting for this amazing miracle from outside to save you.  It is absolute bullshit and you caught me on that one. You owe me nothing.

I hope you and I can become friends some day. I think we would hit it off quite well – I saw you snigger about my haircut to the girl beside you. I would have done the exact same thing! 🙂

Till then,

Much love

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Lack of choice between government and private schooling in India

The Indian education system like its society is heavily stratified. While, the standard segments remain government schools and private schools  – with private schools further segmented into government aided or unaided, with the proliferation of unrecognized low cost private schooling there are more fuzzy lines creating differential access for varied socio-economic groups.

As per the ASER 2012 report,  at the All India level private school enrollment has been rising steadily since 2006. The demand for private schools comes from the perception that the governments schools do not deliver on providing an acceptable quality of education to children which would in future provide access to different pathways of opportunities. This perception is so engrained that a parent says “My child goes to a private school” with a sense of pride of being a good parent and making the right choices for his or her kids. Parents choose to send their children to even unrecognized private schools, often at a considerable financial sacrifice.

The all India enrollment data by ASER 2012 says that in the age group of (6-14 years) for both boys and girls put together the private enrollment is at 28.3%. But if we break it down to age groups and gender there is a clear pattern emerging. In the 7-10 age group 31.7% of boys are enrolled in private schools as compared to the 25.3% of girls in the same age group. In the 11-14 age group, 31.3% of boys are enrolled in private schools as compared to 24.8% of the girls. This indicates that with the increased trend of private enrollment, there is an over representation of girl children in the government schools. This is because with the rising costs of education, the parents are making a choice of sending the boys to a private school (perceived to be of better quality and providing higher opportunities) and the girls to a government school (perceived to be of lesser quality) to ease the cost pressure. Simply put, which child would you bet your money on – metric being ROI and the girl child being seen as  “paraya dhan” (someone else’s wealth – reference to girls having to be given away to another family in marriage) gets the raw deal.

When one compares learning levels, there is a steady decline across arithmetic and reading in government schools and the rate of decline (though persistent) is lower in private schools. This is not to say private schools are doing much better, but socio-economic-educational background of children’s families, parental aspirations and additional support for learning contribute majorly to their better performance. Yet, fact remains that the learning gap between government and private school children is widening. This widening gap may make the private schools look better, but in an absolute sense it is important to note that less than 40% of Std 5 children in private schools could solve a simple division sum in 2012.

While all this time we were talking about the low cost private schooling options, there exists also a middle level of private schooling in which have entry exams for admitting students, interviews for parents to see if they meet the unspoken criteria of social level of the school and the school fees around 2000-8000 rupees a month. There are also additional costs of school uniforms, trips, coaching classes or individual tuitions. At the top end of this spectrum is a small section of elite, global Indians whose children also go to private schools but with PTR closer to 15 instead of 30, swimming pool and horse riding facilities, international field trips, personal laptops for each student and teachers who are trained from across the world.

The clear sorting of schools on basis of social and economic class has led to distinct groups of students in each kind of school as opposed to a socially mixed institution. Also, for the elite it is not just a choice based on frustration with quality of government schools. There is an inherent ambition to be exclusive and maintain that level of social distance to ensure one’s place in the top of the pyramid of the hierarchy of classes.

When the Supreme Court ruling upheld the Right to Education Act which makes education free and compulsory for all children between the ages of 6 and 14, and requires schools, including private ones that don’t receive any public funding, to set aside places for children from low-income families, there was an outcry from parents as well as private schools which felt burdened by having to share the responsibility of educating less privileged children alongside other privileged children.

It is very well to say that government needs to get its act together instead of passing the buck, this is just a small percentage which does not make any impact in the larger schemes of things, children from “those” backgrounds face a lot more psychological issues when put in middle and upper middle class schools and a child’s schooling needs to be aligned to his or her social needs.

The conversation on choice and quality is always seen synergistically but the minute you throw equity into the equation, quality comes in question. Why is that? Why is equity seen to detract from quality? Aren’t we just hiding under the cloak of “quality” to continue to remain insulated from social reality and exclusive?

The choice really isn’t a choice when it is known that certain schools are barely able to deliver what we would believe to be education.

References:

  1. Manabi Majumdar, and Jos E Mooij, 2011: Education and Inequality In India: Classroom View 
  2. Pratham Foundation, 2012: Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) – http://img.asercentre.org/docs/Publications/ASER%20Reports/ASER_2012/fullaser2012report.pdf
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Sexual assault – banana leaves and thorns

With the media being cacophonous over the recent gang rape of a young photojournalist in Mumbai it is hard to not just beg for numbness just to escape their empty indignation. Every time such an incident occurs there are debates on fast-track courts, police conduct and consequences in the form of castration or even the death penalty. There are candle light vigils, a few silent protests and then we all go back to our lives making sure the women we know text us the taxi number they get into late night or stay on the phone till our friend reaches back home from the airport.

While it easier to fix the externalities and pretend to solve issues, it seems to be much harder to get people to acknowledge the deep seating misogyny and inequity that lies embedded in our psyche. Of course when one is talking to the press or the media at large or for the sake of an ideological debate the question of “why was that woman in that place after dark anyway?” or “when we know such things happen, the women should just try and keep themselves safe?” would be blasphemous. But walk into a home with daughters and you will hear “Do not go to that place by yourself, its better to be safe than sorry” or “you wear a skirt like that you are asking for trouble” or worse “If someone is staring at you or says something lewd, look away and walk fast to a crowded place. Do not engage in a fight. You do not need to prove anything to a stranger. We all know you are a strong woman.” When I hit puberty, my grandmother told me a pretty graphic story of how if a banana leaf fell over a thorn or a thorn fell over a banana leaf, it is the banana leaf which would tear. Her basic point was to tell me to stay away from boys because whatever happens I am the banana leaf and I would be damaged goods either way.

Yes, I know parents are only trying to protect their daughters and wish for a life without the pain and fear of being molested or assaulted. But what is the message that we are sending out to our children at large. The answers lie below.

The Quality Education Study was commissioned by Wipro Foundation and Education Initiatives first in 2006 and then again in 2011. It was conducted in urban schools considered to be good quality education institutions. In terms of values on equity, diversity and sensitivity, it was observed that there is a deep rooted bias against the girl child even in students from families which probably belong to the educated and higher socio economic strata of the society. This was exhibited by nearly 43% of children in elementary school expressing that if there was a choice to be made, then it is better to educate the boy over the girl because educating the girl in the long run could only be a waste of resources. Also, 15% of girls in 8th standard felt that ‘girls are burdensome to their parents’. Though 15% may seem like a small number, what we need to remember is that this survey was conducted in the better quality urban schools identified for better and sensitive learning environments. This can only lend a perspective on how deeply this bias is ingrained in our social structure itself.

And this, is in urban metropolises like Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and not a small gaon in the northern part of India as stereotypically assumed when discussing steep gaps in gender equity. If we go a step before schooling, right at conception and birth of a child we all know the trend of euphemistically “missing girls of India”.

So where are we heading. We are soon going to have a population of 250 million young adults (as per UN population division prediction for 2025) who will be unemployable. One can only understate the kind of social unrest and issues it would be bring.  There is a statistic which says in 90% of the cases of sexual assault the perpetrator is known to the victim. I believe in the coming years that will change simply because I believe that sexual assault is an assertion of power and dominance. I am not glossing over child sexual abuse or women assaulted in their homes or even assaults that happen to women at work places. But I definitely do see an impending social crisis of “educated” (with enrollment being high and dropouts declining over a period of time, there will be more people who complete the so called schooling experience and believe themselves to be educated and entitled to a job) men who grow up believing and seeing women being treated as second-class citizens, not being employed and feeling the need to compensate their sense of masculine power. This I believe will result in assaults on any woman who is seen to be “overstepping her boundaries” – known or unknown.

The only resolution I see to this is a complete overhaul of the way we project the very idea of man and woman. This needs to begin in schools, in media, in popular cinema and lastly our homes. The reason I put homes at last is because I strongly feel that the ingrained notion of inequity between male and female which has existed for years will not change on its own accord within homes unless represented and explained from the outside.

We need:

  1. A structured program to teach about gender equity in schools which means our teachers need to be trained on this as well. No longer just about health and nutrition and micro financing for girls but about being equal in homes, society and the rights over one’s body. No longer just for girls but for boys also. Not just a passing reference in a Social Studies lesson but structured modules with contextually relevant content and a participatory methodology to implement. We cannot have a male teacher scoffing at the content and chuckling while talking about the idea of women being equal nor can we afford to have a female teacher sighing saying all these are meant for books.
  2. Conscious development of content portraying women as equals which does not mean a woman has to be portrayed like a man to prove the point.
  3. Moving away from gender stereotypes in popular cinema will go a long way in shaping future ideas. This would include removal of lines like “asli mard hai to maar ke dikha” (if you are a real man hit me) or even ideas like “ladkiyan aise hi hoti hain, na ka matlab haan”  ( girls are always like this, when they say no they mean yes) or random acts of the male protagonist slapping the female protagonist to get her to see his point (more on this later)

These changes will not yield results tomorrow or in the next year (for that we need to fix our judicial system, police and enforce consequences) but it is about time we consciously start building the future minds and thought processes not gender neutrally but with appreciation and acceptance of diversity and equality.

P.S: I am not saying all the men in India do not value women or all families are plagued with the differential treatment of boys and girls. I am positive that there are homes where things aren’t this way, there are men who value women and respect them. But I am sorry to say that the scale of the issue sadly does not accommodate for these aberrations.

 

 

 

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Space, seating and schools

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When I think back on the classrooms I studied in – the seating arrangement was in rows facing the single blackboard right ahead of the class, in front of the class was a desk and a chair for the teacher, a small cupboard on the right or left of the door and the walls had charts made my us students on different subjects. The classroom was lit by daylight but we did have a tubelight and 2 ceiling fans.

I read a few articles on how a classroom layout should be when I was preparing to set up my own class in low-income schools in Mumbai and Chennai. I was struck by how much emphasis was placed on clear well-defined spaces in classrooms, designated corners for independent work or cool off space where kids can take time off and “have a space to call their own”. The idea of space, I believe is rooted in culture. Ask a typical lower-middle class family in India about their notions on private versus shared space and the answers may surprise a conventional western influenced/educated individual. This is simply because when you grow up in a studio apartment with nearly seven members of family then the idea of having “your own” space does not really strike home.

In classrooms where I taught, space was a luxury. I taught 42 kids in a classroom of almost 300 square feet and I also taught 27 kids in a less than 100 square feet room. In both these cases, I did not have the luxury of having designated areas in my classroom or private corners for my students to let off steam. Like in any conventional Indian classroom, my class too had rows of benches with kids packed like sardines facing the blackboard. I did not get to experiment much with group share like seating arrangements where students sat in groups emulating an adult discussion to exchange ideas. I did however try removing all the benches once to create a more comfortable seating arrangement on the floor and had parents come to me the next day complaining about how they pay fees so that their children could sit on benches and learn instead of simply sitting on the floor. Until then, I had neither viewed sitting on benches a value addition nor sitting on the floor as lessening one’s status. I googled for “sitting on the floor school” and I found articles professing shock over how bad some school in Nigeria is that the kids had to sit on the floor to learn or how no longer do kids in East Timor need to sit on the floor since some organization from the US gave them benches. Clearly, as per western norms sitting on benches in school is a step in social advancement.

I went back to reading to see what I could do to make the best of my situation. I plastered the walls of my classroom with reading material and activities to ensure that even if the students aren’t paying attention to me, there is some learning happening by looking at the walls. But the bigger problem was of course seating arrangement.

It was then I began questioning why is it that students need to sit down in lines to learn something. Can the same learning not happen standing? Of course, if a student is tired he or she could sit down but why was it not a choice? Why was it that when I think back to most classrooms I had been in I remember the teacher telling a standing student to sit down and to punish a student would make him or her stand? What was so great about sitting and that too sitting on the benches?

I asked the teachers in my school about why students had to sit? And here are some of the responses I got:

  • They are easier to control when they are sitting
  • I can see all of them at once to check if they are paying attention
  • I get distracted if I see some children standing so I get them to sit
  • It is disrespectful to stand or lie down when I am teaching
  • When they go to colleges, offices where everyone is sitting and doing work they won’t have the practice of sitting for so long hence its better to get them into the habit right away.

I found the first four reasons pretty self-serving for the teachers and more like a Chinese assembly line supervisor response. The last one caught me by surprise and led me to question why cannot we stand in colleges or offices, why can’t we walk or even lie down and discuss business or argue ideologies, approaches and differences.

I began to impose no restrictions on sitting or standing or even lying down in class as long as we are not in someone’s way and the results were awesome! I did not have an unruly class as one would expect, there wasn’t any pandemonium or a whoop of glee or any such thing. Kids stood if they wanted to, sat if they wanted to, lied down on the floor if they wanted to; in fact by the end of the term, after I introduced new content in class students were allowed to talk a mini walk outside the classroom to absorb the idea and then join the class for discussion. I believe it was all very mature. I am not in a position to correlate student achievement with sitting or standing in class to say that because of these lack of restrictions my students did well or they could have done better if we were all seated at all times. But what I can definitely say is the small space no longer felt confining or stifling. A simple freedom in movement or posture led to a much more relaxed classroom vibe without taking away from the sense of urgency of learning.

I hear walking meetings are a rage now and some even say that stand-up meetings from World War I are making it back in vogue. But there are still very strong notions of propriety, formality and creativity associated with postures at workplace.I once was sitting cross legged on a chair while typing on my laptop in my office and my colleague remarked “you should be working in an advertising agency, that’s where people sit like this”.

All I am saying is that we need to move away from the industrialization notions of sitting or standing for productivity and creativity and just be good at whatever it is we are doing.

The only thing that would do is put authors of books like “How to sit powerfully” or “Stand your way to success” out of business, which may not be such a bad thing after all 🙂

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Change in teacher education

The importance of quality teacher training cannot be emphasized enough. As a facilitator of the learning process in the classroom, the role of the teacher when defined to an ideal scale is nothing short of an omniscient and omnipotent individual who is willing to be a martyr to serve the country by shaping its future.

But the reality is far from the ideal and we all have experienced it in the form of a ‘bad teacher’ at some point in our lives. With the introduction of RTE (Right to Education) bill stating the need for PTR (Pupil-Teacher Ratio) to be 30:1, the known shortage of teachers has been clearly quantified. As per recent estimates, there is a shortage of nearly 14 lakh trained teachers in India and India’s largest state Uttar Pradesh needs 3 lakh teachers immediately to fill its classrooms.

These numbers speak of the number of new trained teachers needed to achieve the PTR target. But what about the existing teachers within the system, their development and training to be social transformation agents as envisioned in the NCF (National Curriculum Framework) documents? Any mention of the NCF only brings the refrain of how it is an idealistic dream which does not reflect the reality on ground. But the question is without an ideal can we work towards change?

I look at teacher training to be built by 4 components shown below:

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Investing school leadership in the importance of teaching and teachers:  The school leadership defines the culture, expectations and the environment in which a teacher performs. If the school leadership does not believe in the importance of teaching – meaning sees it merely as a reproduction of curriculum and oral transmission of defined knowledge instead of shaping minds of tomorrow, then it becomes very difficult for the teacher to deliver her best. Also, structurally schools can be difficult for a new teacher since it ‘keeps teachers separated from one another, reinforcing their isolation and sense of autonomy. Without easy access to one another, teachers may feel reluctant to share problems or ask for help, believing that good teachers figure things out on their own. Even if teachers do get together, they may not know how to engage in productive talk about teaching and learning’ (Sharon Feimen-Nemser, What new teachers need to learn. May 2003, Vol 6). An invested school leadership can help reverse this problem by creating a culture of mentorship, peer review and effective feedback.

Curriculum re-development basis current and future needs: The current teacher training curriculum while having a bit of everything does not really focus on how to truly deal with a classroom where learning levels are low, differentiated needs, disinvested families and changing social reality. The curriculum needs to be re-developed to include not just relevant content in different subject areas but also very specific skills in managing varied learning styles, using student assessment data to inform teaching decisions well defined content and clear steps to build notions of equity and diversity within students.

Teacher training: Our teachers come from the same school system that we are trying to change. Hence mere instruction on revised content does little to bring about the change in the classrooms or empower each teacher to work as a social transformation agent. The teacher training needs to be:

  • Reflective: focusing on questions leading to self awareness like “why do I want to be a   teacher?”, “what are my strengths and weaknesses?”, “what are the changes I would like to see around me?”, “why do I want to see change at all?”, “how can I bring about change?”
  • Participatory: Since the training is to develop skills, attitudes and values to influence others, participatory teaching methodology is important. Giving the teacher real case studies of students where the teacher identifies a problem,describes,analyses,interprets and appreciates the problem and then makes a decision to solve it will only help the learning process be inclusive and diversified at the same time making the future teachers stronger in capacity to act and solve problems.

This also means that along with building relevant content knowledge and grasp of language for delivery, the teacher education can no longer be restricted to 2 or 3 years of training but be a rigorous 4 or 5 year advanced degree programme.

Monitoring and Mentoring of teachers:  This is the area I believe to be the most crucial and game changing of all. I believe monitoring and mentoring of both beginning teachers and in-service teachers is crucial to provide that continued support in skill development as well as confidence building. The monitoring and mentoring can be done by creating structures for experienced teachers to help beginning teachers  as well as having qualified teacher educators review experienced teachers to help with new techniques for the best possible outcomes for the child. Most training programmes across sectors fall short in the area of following up after the knowledge transfer has occurred to ensure continuous improvement in effectiveness as well as going back to the drawing board to focus on key skills. Creating a parallel structure with qualified teacher educators, experienced teachers and involving students is a great way to help build the culture of mentoring and coaching.

In conclusion while I do understand the urgency of providing so many trained teachers I strongly feel the need to change teacher education on above mentioned parameters for sustainable long term change to be a reality.

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Independence Day

I have honestly never understood the idea of a nation or appreciated the sentimentality that it begets. Even though I grew up outside India and it is expected that my identity is defined by the country I was born in or from which my parents belong; I merely saw India as my grandparents’ home then.  I have many a time wondered how is it possible that 1.2 billion people with different dialects, backgrounds and stories feel kinship to an idea called India. There have been days when I have simply summed up the situation as the triumph of economic need to belong to a larger state over the need to carve out an own identity.

This is not to tell you that I have had a change of heart simply because of Independence dayand a few episodes of Satyameva Jayate. But I am beginning to see a kinship with the hope called India with every passing day. Yes, there are issues – not one, not two but innumerable. Inflation, currency de-valuation, illegal migration, corruption, unheard protests, foeticide, education, healthcare, nutrition, environment, caste based discrimination, safety of women –there is not a single news channel that at 9 p.m. talks about something good that transpired that day. It is about all the wrongs done by all those who could not escape the prying eyes of the camera. Of course the media should be vigilant, of course people should be pulled up for trying to hush up a rape case or pocketing 2500 crores meant for the healthcare of the state –but does it have to be only about the bad? This is not rhetoric – its something that I worry about. Is it true that there is absolutely no good happening which is why nothing makes it to the papers or TV? Or is it our choice to only see the wrong simply because the indignation compensates for our inaction in the day.

But even if I do consider the violent opposition of every action or inaction that occurs and the sceptic look that follows the announcement of any intention I cannot help but hope that it stems from a desire to simply see a system working better for its people.

This gooey optimism may not agree with most of you…I would be annoyed too if I made the kind of money you did and then pay the taxes you do! But I guess my optimism is also an occupational hazard. Everyday when I walk into class I see hope, dreams and the joy to make something new. I find it extremely hard to not believe that these kids will not have a chance to realise their potential and live the lives they want. I see them shaping their future one task at a time and incisively moving towards a goal they set for themselves. And something tells me if a bunch of 8 year olds can, then I am sure 1.2 billion across age groups, smarts and wherewithal can figure something out.

I do not relate to the chaos that is pouring out on the streets to resolve issues endemic to the system. But I do see the adrenalin for some form of change and that to me resembles hope – for if there was no hope, we would see indifference and not angst.

I am aware that there are elements who are striving to maintain the status quo to feed their source of power. But I believe that these elements too are now beginning to see the power of the collective.

Yes, there is a lot to be done. Of course you may not tell me but I am sure you think me teaching 30 kids, is not going to change anything for better. But let me tell you something, it is happening – things are changing and the future is looking up. It is for you to smell the wet earth. Like someone once said, some feel the rain while others simply get wet.

I still do not understand what holds all of us together. But I do see the shared past and glimmering future in the eyes of my kids and I feel like I belong to something that is larger than me – maybe it is the idea or hope that someone once called India.

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Foolishly surprised

Sometimes you are surprised. Surprised by the depth of conversation, by the impassiveness with which the truth is spoken or by the naivety you hold thinking of yourself as the protector.

Along with our regular curriculum, I began conversations on Gender Equity in my class. It has been less than a week and I am surprised by own students. Today we discussed the difficult topic of female infanticide. I was very worried about how I am going to explain this to my students. How do I tell my 8 year olds that such a barbaric practice exists or the fact that there are people who do not value all children equally? These were the questions in my mind on my bus ride to school.

I began the conversation by saying that there are homes and families where a girl child is not welcome. There is sadness and no joy for she is seen as a burden and not hope. There was sudden murmuring and I saw a lot of raised hands. I could not fathom what all these students have to say at the same time. And that is how the stories began to pour.

Malini was the first to speak on how her mother laments and curses her every day about how having two daughters and no sons. Then Aravind spoke of how his father was very sad when his sister was born and would come home drunk everyday to squarely blame the mother for this misfortune. Stunned by the openness of these students, I shared the sex ratio in India of 933 females per 1000 males and asked where are the remaining girl children. Tippu quietly said “They dead, Miss”. Roshan and Karan spoke of their villages where the new born baby girls are buried in the farm the reason in their words being “girls so much money give marriage, too much tension father mother do not want”. Santosh said in his village an old lady sees the stomach of the woman to tell the sex of the child and even grinds some leaves to give the mother if it “feels” like it is going to be a baby girl. Divyadarshini spoke of how even if the child is not killed, the parents and extended family continue to express discontent. She knows this because when her brother was born her grandmother gave so many gold chains and rings to her mother but when she was born her mother got nothing because she did not deserve a prize for after all giving birth to a girl child. And every birthday, Divyadarshini’s mother is told how she could have done better.

When I was 8, I had the luxury of not knowing. It saddens me that my children have experienced the pain of feeling unwanted firsthand. It hurts to see such all knowing 8 year old eyes. It makes me so angry to think of those parents who willingly, unwillingly, knowingly or unknowingly make their children question the value of their very existence.

When we ended our conversation today with how girls and boys both need to be loved and cared for and how it is not a mother’s wrongdoing for giving birth to a girl child Jayarani, one of the quietest girls in my class raised her hand to ask “Miss, mother also girl then why miss mother no fight for her girl child?”. I had no answer to give her other than telling her that she needs to be much stronger than those mothers and fight for what she believes in.

Devika, Divya, Fathima, Thulasi, Malini, Jayarani, Meenakshi, Thrisha, Nandhini, Srija and millions of other children deserve better. We need the change to happen. We cannot wait for times to change. It has to happen NOW and I see its beginning in 26 pairs of resolute eyes.

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