You can hear the school before you see it. From around one hundred yards away, the shouts of kids running about excitedly emanates. In this school in Dharavi there are 2500 students in the morning and 2500 in the afternoon. Each class has anywhere from 20 to 70 kids in it. There is no air conditioning and there are few desks. In some rooms, all of the kids sit on the floor, staring at the solitary blackboard.At first, this school is thoroughly depressing. But today, I spent several hours with a Teach for India fellow, Amit, and saw just how much can be done when passion is applied with energy. There are 40 kids in Amit's class and each day there are more. In fact, while I was there, a parent brought in her son who barely speaks English. For Amit, it's just one of the countless challenges that he faces every day. But somehow, both Amit and his students are enthusiastic and ready to learn. Just before one, thousands of kids stream into the school, running with smiles on their faces. Once in the classroom, at least in Amit's classroom, they are engaged as willing participants in their own education. Not all of them are reading or doing math at grade level. In fact, very few of them are. Yet they all have a burning desire to learn. This, coupled with Amit's unbridled enthusiasm for what he does, makes for a unique atmosphere.
What we saw today was nothing more than a snippet. We are yet to get to know the kids well, but we will over the coming days. I suppose, in some ways, challenges are easy to see. Indeed, we've come to understand, to some degree, the challenges in a very short period of time. In this school, we can see and hear the challenges. Solutions, though, are a bit harder to come by. But over the next few days, I'm confident that we will begin to see, however gradually, solutions. Because if anyone can improve education for India's poor, it would be the passionate youth like Amit.
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